RIGA - Two men narrowly escaped by car after robbing a bank in Riga's Plavnieki residential area Nov. 14. In their attempt to apprehend the fleeing criminals, police officers opened fire and wounded three people; one suspect and two bystanders.
The State Police's Internal Security Bureau has launched an official investigation into the matter.
According to police information and eyewitness accounts, the Mitsubishi that police were pursuing caused several minor collisions near the intersection of Saharova and Keldisa streets.
After police opened fire on the car, the criminals tried to run a red light and smashed into an Opel, the Leta news agency reported.
The collision sent both cars reeling out of control, as a result of which the Opel exploded and the Mitsubishi landed on its roof.
A teenage pedestrian crossing the street was hit by a car, witnesses said.
One of the criminals was shot and wounded by police, officials reported. However both men - Aleksandrs Kolisniceko and Igors Vasiljevs - managed to escape the scene.
Minutes later, the two stole a Mazda 323 and drove off, Leta reported.
The stolen Mazda was discovered in a Riga district on Nov. 15, but both suspects, wanted for robbing the Kekava District branch of Latvijas Krajbanka (Latvian Savings Bank) on Nov. 10, have yet to be found.
The woman driving the Opel that caught fire was taken to a Riga hospital's intensive care unit. There have been no reports on her condition.
The 17-year-old girl that was struck by one of the cars was taken to the Children's Clinical University Hospital. She has suffered several fractures and contusions, but her life is not in danger. A criminal case was launched on the accident.
Taking these casualties into account, State Police Chief Janis Zascirinskis ordered the Internal Security Bureau to probe the police officers' conduct, Sintija Kajina, senior inspector at the State Police's Press and Public Relations Bureau, told Leta.
Every officer's actions and professionalism in trying to detain the two suspects will be assessed, Jaundzeikars said.
Three men reportedly entered a branch of Latvijas Krajbanka in Kekava shortly before 10 a.m. on Nov. 10, fired one shot into the ceiling, and took about 500 lats (719 euros). Police have so far managed to detain one of the robbers.