Bank robbery and manhunt in Santa Clara County causes shutdown of Highway 17


Claire Chang

POST UPDATE: The over 30 hour manhunt for the robbery suspect has ended Friday with the arrest of three people. Based on early evidence, Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies are confident that one of the three people in custody is the main suspect of the Bank of America robbery that occurred late Thursday morning.

six-mile stretch of Highway 17 connecting Santa Cruz to the Bay Area was closed late Thursday morning as Scotts Valley and Santa Clara police officers engaged in a manhunt for an alleged bank-robbery suspect.

At around 10 a.m., there was an alleged bank-robbery of a Bank of America in Scotts Valley, and police officers there chased the suspect into Santa Clara County. As they were pursuing the suspect, a Scotts Valley police officer fired shots at the suspect near Redwood Estates. It is not known yet how many shots were fired or if the police officer hit or injured the suspect. No police officers were hurt in the exchange.

As the manhunt continued, the suspect’s vehicle crashed onto an adjacent road next to Highway 17, causing the suspect to abandon the vehicle and a pedestrian foot-chase to begin. The suspect later found shelter in the Redwood Estates near Highway 17.

This caused the shutdown of the entirety of Highway 17, as police officers and crime-scene investigators processed the suspect’s car for evidence. Both the southbound and northbound lanes of Highway 17 were reopened around 8:20 p.m.

The bank-robbery and the ensuing shutdown of Highway 17 was especially alarming to some teachers at MVHS, who lived in the area and used that freeway to go home.

Spanish teacher Joyce Fortune was one of the first teachers to find out, and she quickly alerted the rest of the staff by sending out a mass email, detailing when and why the highway was shut down. She had found out through an appointment she had made with someone living in Santa Cruz – he had cancelled their appointment because of the Highway 17 closure.

Other teachers who lived in the Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz area were affected as well. Spanish teacher Norma Abarca lived there, and detailed how her regular route through Los Gatos would have to be altered as a result of the closure.

“It might take three hours to get to Los Gatos, because everyone is trying to go to Highway 17 and they might not know it was closed,” Abarca said. “It’s not that bad of a drive but if anything goes wrong, you’re stuck. It’s much more difficult to get home.”

While Highway 17 is slowly clearing up, the county-wide manhunt is still underway for the bank-robbery suspect. Check back on this story for updates.