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Bank Robber Was Trying to Keep Family Off Welfare, Brother Says

January 2, 1992

PLACENTIA, Calif. (AP) _ A former missionary who killed himself during a bank-robbery getaway was trying to keep his family off welfare and had held up a bank before, his brother said.

Meanwhile, a bank customer who talked to police on the phone for several hours and wandered around the bank during the standoff - raising suspicions that he was an accomplice - said he was just trying to help.

Jaime Sabogal, 38, of Redlands, shot himself in the head when police closed in after the Tuesday afternoon holdup, the FBI said Wednesday.

Before he died, Sabogal said he had left a satchel with plastic explosives in the Bank of America branch and suggested he had an accomplice, which prevented police from rescuing the 29 people inside for 6 1/2 hours, said Lt. Chuck Babcock.

No bomb was found.

The 20 bank employees and nine customers were unharmed. Hundreds of spectators, friends and family members cheered and yelled ,″Happy New Year 3/8″ as the group was released at about 10:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve.

Sabogal’s brother, Hernando Sabogal of Rialto, said his brother had a wife and six children and had trouble keeping a job since being convicted of bank robbery about five years ago. He served time in a California prison.

″He didn’t want a welfare family and wanted the best for his kids,″ Hernando Sabogal said.

A native of Bogota, Colombia, Sabogal once served as a Christian missionary in Central and South America.

He entered the bank at about 4 p.m., displayed a gun and said he had a bomb, the FBI said.

Police responding to a silent alarm watched as Sabogal walked out with two women hostages, both bank employees. He stopped a passing car, ordered a woman and her 13-year-old son out, and drove away with the hostages.

Police chased the car, which collided with three others and got stuck in traffic. Sabogal told the hostages to get out. ″Our officers had him at gunpoint, and he shot himself,″ Babcock said.

One hostage suffered minor injuries in the traffic accident.

Authorities would not say how much money was taken, but all was recovered.

Back at the bank, the hostages were released about 1 1/2 hours after a Los Angeles man who initially was believed to be an accomplice surrendered.

Police concluded that the man, Gregory Robert Rambo, also known as Robert Charles Gregory, 30, wasn’t involved in the robbery. But he was jailed on larceny charges filed in Dade County, Fla.

Rambo was cashing a check when Sabogal entered the bank, Babcock said. After Sabogal fled, Rambo confused FBI agents and police with his phone calls, delaying attempts to search for explosives and free those inside.

Rambo told the Los Angeles Times that he had tried to let the police know everything was OK.

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