'Wired vest' on bank robbery suspect a hoax, police say

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Correction: A previous version of this story reported that the man fled arrest. That is incorrect; he fled the bank and later resisted arrest. SALT LAKE CITY — For more than three hours Thursday, Salt Lake police blocked off an area surrounding a suspected bank robber who was wearing what officers said appeared to be an explosive vest.

Officers ordered the handcuffed man to lie flat on the ground near 975 W. 2100 South while they backed away because of safety concerns and instead brought in a robot to evaluate the seriousness of the threat. The man was finally back in police custody about 1:30 p.m. after a bomb squad robot removed the vest from his body.

Joshua Anthony Silva, 24, was arrested for investigation of aggravated robbery, resisting arrest and having a hoax incendiary device.

Silva is suspected of robbing a nearby Zions Bank, 910 W. 2100 South, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Heiden.

About 10 a.m., a man wearing black gloves and a motorcycle helmet with a cloth draped over it demanded money from a bank teller and then fled. Dispatchers said the robber had reportedly threatened bank employees with a gun or an explosive device.

Robbery detectives who were in the area spotted a man suspected of committing the robbery about a block away. Heiden said the man struggled with detectives as they tried to arrest him.

Bomb techs play important role in incident involving 'wired vest'
by Andrew Adams
SALT LAKE CITY — A situation where a man is wearing what appears to be a vest wired with explosives is a rare call for bomb techs, a detective with Salt Lake City Police Department's bomb squad said after Thursday's encounter with a bank robbery suspect.

As it turned out, police said the vest worn by 24-year-old Joshua Anthony Silva proved to be a fake. Still, it resulted in a very tense situation on the city's west side near 1000 West and 2100 South.

"He's considered to be a deadly threat at this point," Sgt. Robin Heiden said during the ordeal. "If that is a device on him, he could injure several people."

Police said wires were sticking out of the vest worn by Silva, and they had to approach the man with a bomb squad robot.

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"That's when they noticed he has on maybe what looks like an explosive vest, but it has some wires coming out of it," she said. "So at that point they backed off, instructed him to stay there and stay still."

The Hazardous Device Unit, or bomb squad, was called and a robot was sent to search the man. Heiden said officers were able to communicate with him through the robot as it inspected the device to determine what kind of threat it posed.

Police snipers were on top of a nearby building watching the man in case he attempted to stand up and run, Heiden said. Officers evacuated a two-block area while the man remained prostrate on the ground.

Sometime after 1 p.m., the robot removed the vest from the man. The vest remained on the ground while the man followed instructions from police officers. He eventually sat up, then stood and walked toward a bomb technician in a protective suit who carefully patted him down.

Silva then walked toward other officers who arrested him without further incident.

"We wanted to separate him from that vest and then take him into custody and get him out of the area, and then deal with the vest afterward," Heiden said.

The "explosive vest" was later determined to be a hoax.

Silva has a very minor state criminal history in Utah, according to court records.

Contributing: Nicole Vowell, Natalie Crofts


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