(AURORA, Colo.) — Police in Aurora, Colo., searching for suspected bank robbers stopped every car at an intersection, handcuffed all the adults and searched the cars, one of which they believed was carrying the suspect.
Police said they had received what they called a “reliable” tip that the culprit in an armed robbery at a Wells Fargo bank committed earlier was stopped at the red light.
“We didn’t have a description, didn’t know race or gender or anything, so a split-second decision was made to stop all the cars at that intersection, and search for the armed robber,” Aurora police Officer Frank Fania told ABC News.
Officers barricaded the area, halting 19 cars.
“Cops came in from every direction and just threw their car in front of my car,” Sonya Romero, one of the drivers who was handcuffed, told ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver.
From there, the police went from car to car, removing the passengers and handcuffing the adults.
“Most of the adults were handcuffed, then were told what was going on and were asked for permission to search the car,” Fania said. “They all granted permission, and once nothing was found in their cars, they were un-handcuffed.”
The search lasted between an hour and a half and two hours, and it wasn’t until the final car was searched that police apprehended the suspect.
“Once officers got to his car, they found evidence that he was who they were looking for,” Fania said. “When they searched the car, they found two loaded firearms.”
The actions of the police have been met with some criticism, but Fania said this was a unique situation that required an unusual response.
“It’s hard to say what normal is in a situation like this when you haven’t dealt with a situation like this,” Fania said. “The result of the whole ordeal is that it paid off. We have arrested and charged a suspect.”
The other people who had been held at the intersection were allowed to leave once the suspect was apprehended.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Tahman Bradley, WGN
Lisa France, CNN