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Armored Car Holdup Leaves One Dead, Two Wounded

September 7, 1989

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Two masked men trying to hold up an armored car opened fire inside Bank of America’s world headquarters Thursday, killing one guard and wounding two other men before fleeing on 10-speed bicycles.

An intensive search of the city’s crowded financial district, involving police, FBI agents, transit police and the California Highway Patrol, was launched for the pair, dressed in blue jeans and baseball caps.

Brink’s Inc. offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the suspects, described as white males in their 30s, said the armored car company’s corporate vice-president, Buck Crebs.

An empty Brink’s bag was found at the scene and some envelopes, their contents unknown, were missing, said officer David Ambrose. Neither authorities nor the bank would immediately release details on what might have been stolen.

″It looks like a well-planned, well-orchestrated robbery,″ said Deputy Chief Larry Gurnett.

Ambrose said the ski-masked bandits apparently entered the 52-story building shortly before 10 a.m. through a sidewalk-level door on California Street, while the Brink’s guards entered on Pine Street, a parallel street on the opposite side of the building.

The four apparently met near the rear indoor entrance to the city’s main Bank of America branch. The robbers opened fire, hitting both guards, said Ambrose.

Robert Gee, 57, of San Francisco, apparently tried to intervene and also was shot, said Ambrose.

Brink’s identified the dead guard as Joseph San Arriola, 53, of Vallejo, Calif. The father of six children, Arriola was a five-year veteran of the company. He suffered gunshot wounds to the face and the back of the head.

The other wounded guard was identified as Clifford Spencer, 24, a part-time Brink’s employee who started working for the company 2 months ago.

Spencer underwent surgery to remove a bullet that entered above the left eyebrow, ricocheted off the skull and entered the upper spine, hospital officials said. He was in serious condition with paralysis on his left side before surgery, hospital spokeswoman Gloria Rodriguez said.

Gee was wounded in the mouth, she said. He was listed in fair condition.

Judy Adami, owner of The Smoke Shop, on the same floor but out of sight of the bank entrance, said Gee collapsed at her stand, but was conscious and asked for help.

″He said, ‘There’s been a robbery. I’ve been shot. I’m hurt,’ and his teeth were all out,″ she said. Gee gave Adami, and later police, a description of the robbers before he was taken for medical treatment.

Bank of America is a subsidiary of BankAmerica Corp., one of the nation’s largest banking concerns. The building is the city’s largest in terms of square feet.

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