RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA (CNS) - A man suspected of being the so-called Leatherface Bandit led authorities on a chase today that ended with a crash in Rancho Santa Margarita, where a standoff ensued until the man was found dead inside the vehicle.
FBI Special Agent Chris Gicking said the suspect robbed a Pacific Western Bank branch at 34180 Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point about 3:40 p.m., prompting a pursuit.
Deputies lost sight of the suspect during the chase somewhere in Dana Point, but deputies picked up the trail in Mission Viejo. The pursuit ended when the suspect crashed the white pickup truck he was driving at Banderas and Empresa in Rancho Santa Margarita, said Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
The suspect refused to come out of the vehicle, and a large contingent of law enforcement officers gathered at the scene. Investigators later determined the suspect was dead, although it has not been determined how he died, Braun said.
Investigators suspect he may have taken his own life, authorities said.
Investigators believe the suspect was the Leatherface Bandit, who got the moniker because he wears a mask during heists. They suspect was linked to holdups in Yorba Linda in April 9 and two more on March 8 and 9 in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, Gicking said.