A man arrested in connection with a bank robbery after leading police on a five-mile chase in northeast Las Vegas Monday morning might be linked to seven other valley robberies over the past five days, including the Saturday afternoon heist at a North Las Vegas casino, authorities said.
The suspect also has raised the interest of authorities in Illinois, who consider him to be on the "short list" of tips coming in about an assailant who fatally shot five women inside a Lane Bryant store in a shopping center in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, according to WBBM-TV in Chicago.
Surveillance photos of the Nevada robber are being compared to a sketch of the killer. Photos and fingerprints of the suspect are on their way to authorities in Illinois, WBBM reported.
But though there are similarities that have caught the interest of authorities, there are differences, too, one of which is the race of the suspects in both cases. The Tinley Park assailant is believed to be black, and the Las Vegas suspect is Hispanic, authorities said. Also, there are different accounts of whether the respective suspects are right- or left-handed, the TV station reported.
Tinley Park Police Chief Mike O’Connell calls the Las Vegas case another of the many tips they’ve investigated and perhaps not even the most promising, the station reported.
In Las Vegas, FBI spokesman Joseph Dickey said 34-year-old Enrique J. Hurtado probably will face federal charges stemming from Monday’s robbery of the Nevada Federal Credit Union at 1264 South Nellis Blvd., near Charleston Boulevard.
Investigators believe Hurtado also might be responsible for the robbery of a 7-Eleven convenience store at Stewart Avenue and Lamb Boulevard before the credit union heist Monday morning and the robbery of a Bank of America on Silverado Ranch Boulevard and Bermuda Road on Wednesday, Dickey said.
Police were first called to the credit union at 10:35 a.m. with reports of a robbery.
Sgt. Chris Tomaino of the Metropolitan Police Department’s robbery section said the robber never showed a gun but had threatened people in the bank enough that he was able to escape with an undisclosed amount of cash.
"He was verbally aggressive. He demanded money. He said things like, ‘I’m gonna kill you’ and ‘Get down on the floor,’ " Tomaino said.
The robber soon fled in a white four-door Cadillac with California license plates. No one in the bank was hurt.
Patrol officers spotted the suspect vehicle and the chase was on. Within 10 minutes, at about 10:45 a.m., the pursuit ended in a crash.
The Cadillac flipped over and slammed into a palm tree after spike strips that police had set up on Eastern Avenue, south of Washington Avenue, blew out the right front tire.
Las Vegas firefighters had to extract the driver of the Cadillac.
"He was pretty lucky," Tomaino said. "The wreck looked a lot worse than what happened to him."
The man was rushed to University Medical Center and later was released with minor injuries and booked into the Clark County Detention Center on several felony charges.
One of the charges was robbery, Tomaino said.
North Las Vegas police spokesman Mark Hoyt said detectives believe the man arrested Monday was the same man who shot up the Opera House Casino, on North Las Vegas Boulevard and Carey Avenue, during a brazen Saturday afternoon robbery.
Hoyt said a man matching the description of the credit union robber is believed to have fired at an Opera House Casino cashier before forcing his way through the small opening in the cage and grabbing an undisclosed amount of cash from an open register. The robber fired a shot as he exited the casino, Hoyt said.
The robber was seen leaving the casino in a four-door white vehicle with California plates, Hoyt said.
Tomaino said law enforcement agencies are coordinating their efforts in the investigation.
The credit union remained closed Monday and was expected to reopen today. There was no other damage to vehicles or property, other than to the palm tree, during the chase with police.