TV station helicopter helps nab bank robber after police chase

TV station helicopter helps nab bank robber after police chase »Play Video
KATU's news helicopter Jet Ranger 2 was in the air and following the suspect as he wound through North Portland. The helicopter's signal was broadcast live and police used it to track down the suspect and arrest him. (Click the "Play Video" button to watch the raw TV coverage)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Police, aided by KATU's Jet 2 helicopter, arrested a suspected bank robber Wednesday afternoon after a high-speed chase that started in Washington and ended in Oregon.

Police arrested Brent J. Woodall, who turned 29 on Wednesday, after an exciting chase broadcast live on KATU television.

According to the Clark County Sheriff's Office, Woodall robbed the Riverview Savings bank at 1220 N.E. 88th Street in Hazel Dell, Wash. at about 3 p.m. Police say Woodall left the bank with an unknown amount of money in a black Toyota Sequoia SUV.

A police chase ensued that wound through parts of Southwest Washington. At one point, Woodall swtiched cars, stealing a black Ford Focus at East 15th Street and D Street, according to Vancouver Police. The suspect then led officers across the Interstate Bridge and into Oregon.

Portland Police then joined the chase and KATU’s helicopter kept track of the suspect's car from the air and broadcast its location live on television and the web.

At one point, police lost sight of the car and called off the pursuit because of public safety concerns. But they were able to reacquire its location by watching KATU’s live signal and communicating with the station’s assignment desk as to the location of its helicopter and the suspect.

Police then caught up with Woodall at North Kellogg Street and Burlington Avenue at about 4:30 near the St. Johns Bridge. Moments before he had gotten out of the Focus and was on foot. He then ran toward a green minivan and appeared to try to carjack that vehicle. A Portland police car then rushed up from behind him and pinned him between the minivan and the police car.  About four or five officers surrounded him with their guns drawn, ordered him to the ground and took him into custody.

That green minivan contained a family of five. Felipe Trejo and his four sons were on their way to a basketball game. Trejo said when the suspect approached his van he noticed that he appeared to have a Taser in his hand.

"My mind just said this guy's trying to take my car and my kids are in here so ... I went," he said.

He said the van's windows were down and because they roll up slowly, he wanted to drive away quickly to prevent the suspect from getting inside.

"My main thing was not to let him get in the car," he said.

Before anything else could happen, however, police had pinned Woodall against the van with a patrol car.

"We are genuinely grateful to KATU News for your live coverage of this," said Portland police spokesman Lt. Robert King, referring to how the station's live coverage enabled police to capture the suspect.

At the scene of the arrest police recovered a bag of money. At the bank, the security dye pack went off in another bag and the suspect dropped it.

In the end, all the money that police say Woodall stole was recovered, according to bank officials who declined to say how much money was involved.

Woodall had no real criminal history before Wednesday – just a minor drug conviction four years ago.

But one family member said there was trouble at home and that Woodall had recently taken a large amount of money from his wife, Aimee. She wouldn't say how much, however.

A family friend said Woodall's wife is distraught and trying to care for her kids.

Woodall faces charges of robbery in the second degree and attempting to elude police. He's being held in the Multnomah County Jail on $255,000 bail.

He is due in court on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

KATU News reporter Thom Jensen contributed to this report.

Watch KATU's 11 p.m. recap of the bank robbery and chase:

 

Watch KATU's 6 p.m. recap of the bank robbery and chase: