Bizarre Pizza Delivery
Bank Heist Gets More Puzzling

The Straits Times - Singapore

One of the strangest cases in the annals of crime - a pizza delivery man who robbed a bank by making threats with a bomb locked to his neck - is getting more bizarre with each new twist.
FBI agents now say that the bomb which killed Brian Douglas Wells, 46, in Erie, Pennsylvania, is unusual in the United States, and that they have found a second weapon connected to the plot.
FBI spokesman Bill Crowley said the device was of a kind he had heard of only once, in Bogota, Colombia. It was attached to Wells with a metal collar and lock that FBI officials did not believe was manufactured commercially.
Mr Crowley also said that the second weapon found was 'unique', while refusing to describe it further.
Investigators were still trying to determine whether Wells was a willing participant in the bank robbery on Aug 28.p> The robbery began when an anonymous caller ordered two small pizzas from Mama Mia's, the pizza shop where he had worked for the past several years.
Wells drove the food out in his car. The address turned out to be a desolate, fenced hill near a television transmitter.
An hour later, at 2.40pm, Wells appeared at a nearby bank demanding money and claiming to have a bomb around his neck.
He gave two handwritten notes, nine pages in all, to a teller. One contained threats to the bank. The second was addressed to the robber.
After the teller gave Wells an undisclosed amount, he retreated to his car and drove off with the cash. Minutes later, Pennsylvania state police arrested him.
When he was surrounded and handcuffed, Wells told police that he had a bomb strapped to him and that someone - he apparently did not say who - had started a timer on the bomb and forced him to rob the bank.
Television cameras caught him sitting cross-legged in front of a squad car, shouting to police.
'I'm not lying,' he wailed. 'Did you call my boss?' he asked, adding later: 'I'm not doing this. This isn't me. I'm not doing this.'
While waiting for a bomb squad to arrive, the device exploded. The shock of the blast caused lethal damage to Wells' heart, leaving a stamp-sized impression on his chest.
Federal agents and police detectives have canvassed dozens of businesses in the industrial sections of this north-west Pennsylvania factory town since then, trying to find a machine shop capable of rigging up the collar.
A police search of Wells' rented shack turned up no drill bits, metal parts or other suspicious material.
Earlier this summer, rebels in Colombia were accused of using such a necklace bomb to try to extort money from a Venezuelan rancher.
The man's attackers threatened to detonate it in 72 hours unless they received the equivalent of US$187,500 (S$313,000), but Colombian and Venezuelan secret police were able to disarm the bomb.
A similar bomb killed two in Bogota, Colombia, in 2000.
The suspect
In the transient fraternity of pizza delivery men in Erie, Pennsylvania, Brian Douglas Wells was a lifer.
The quiet, seemingly contented man had spent years tooling through blue-collar neighbourhoods with the back seat of his car piled high with pizza boxes. He had worked at several shops, unfurrowed by ambition or stress.
'Brian was happy with what he had,' said former co-worker Jim Sadowski. 'This is something he could never have dreamed up.'
Neighbour Barry Porsh said: 'A guy who lived like that couldn't hurt a flea.'
The bomb
Pennsylvania police described it as a crude device similar to a pipe bomb. It hung over Wells' chest from a plate-metal collar that was fastened around his neck with four locks.
Investigators said the collar looked custom-made.
The uniqueness of the devices suggests that those associated with them were 'pretty skilled', one told CNN.
The weapon
FBI agent Kenneth McCabe told ABC TV that the second weapon found in connection with the bank robbery was 'a sort of a gun'.
Other authorities described it as 'unusual', saying it appeared to have been homemade or custom-made in a machine shop.
One official said it was shaped like a walking cane.
Investigators declined to say whether the gun-like weapon was concealed on Wells' body or was inside his car at the time of his arrest.
- Compiled from AP, New York Times and Los Angeles Times reports
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