Victim of Carjack and Shooting Found to be Involved in Bank Robbery

Update to Los Angeles Times Story “Carjacking Victim Was Actually Accomplice in Bank Robbery, Police Say” by Ruben Vives


Victim of Carjack and Shooting Found to be Involved in Bank Robbery

            A woman found inside the minivan of the bank robber in Corona last week who supposedly was carjacked has been arrested under suspicion of being an accomplice to the crime, police said.

The bank robbery took place at Pacific Premier Bank at 102 E. 6th St. in the city of Corona on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Hemet man Paul Johnson, 59, held up the bank at gunpoint and forced the employees into the vault, Corona police said.

Johnson took extensive amounts of cash from the bank’s vault and threatened to kill employees if they called the police, witnesses told investigators. Johnson was carrying a device that seemed to be a scanner or walkie-talkie and unknowingly took a tracking mechanism that enabled police to follow him.

Police chased Johnson’s minivan for 11 miles until Johnson stopped the van long enough for a woman to quickly exit the vehicle at San Antonia and Bickmore Avenue in Chino, police said. The chase was shortly ended when Johnson crashed his vehicle.

Police shot Johnson and he was pronounced dead at the scene. A handun, a large amount of cash, and other evidence was found inside Johnson’s minivan, police said.

The woman who escaped Johnson’s vehicle was identified as Patricia Smith, 26, who told officers she had been carjacked by Johnson, authorities said. Smith eventually told investigators that Johnson was her stepfather. Investigators have searched a home that Smith and Johnson shared in Hemet and have accused Smith of being involved in the crime. She has been arrested and booked under suspicion of robbery, police said.