Banker helps collar robbery suspect
Outraged when he realized that someone was attempting to rob his bank for a second time in 10 days, a Lower Mills bank president reacted by dropping his phone and running out of his office to give chase last Friday afternoon. And with the help of a Boston cop in his cruiser in a nearby parking lot, the collar was made.
The incident took place mid-day last Friday. Meetinghouse Cooperative Bank President Tony Paciulli was in his office at the bank on Dorchester Avenue at the corner of Richmond Street, when he realized that a man was attempting to pass a note demanding cash.
Employees recognized the man - later identified as 30 year-old Thomas Gerald Anderson of Braintree - as the same person who robbed the bank just last month.
"It happened about 12:30 Friday afternoon. There was not a soul in the bank," Paciulli told the Reporter this week. "He must have stood outside and waited until there was no one here. He held a note up to the teller window, and the two women behind the teller line recognized him so they stepped away from the window. He started rapping on the window for attention. He caught on that everybody was on to him, so he turned around and ran out of the bank."
Paciulli said one of his staff yelled out, and he jumped up from his phone conversation to find out what was happening: "They said that's the robber from last week. He was running flat out up Richmond Street and I took off after him. He had a pretty good head start because I couldn't make the (traffic) light and he did. I chased him down Richmond, past the CVS and down by the construction project."
Now in full pursuit, the banker flagged a Boston police car in the CVS lot for assistance, telling him of the attempted robbery. The cop called for assistance, and joined the chase, his siren wailing and his blue lights flashing.
"He went by me just as I rounded the corner (at Washington Street,)" Paciulli said. The suspect stopped running when the police car headed him off.
"I told the officer we believe that's the man who robbed the bank a week ago, and he tried to do it again, and we recognized him and I just took chase.
"The first incident took place on Aug. 28, when a man walked in and passed a note saying 'Give me the money or I'll kill you,' or something to that effect," Paciulli said. "She gave him the cash, and he turned around and just casually walked out of the bank."
It was the first bank robbery in memory at the Lower Mills bank, and Paciulli said it had a profound effect on the staff there. "They have been decimated by this, they are very, very upset. Several people came by and said they knew [Anderson] and they knew where he lived. They recognized him from being around, and they were very nervous that they would see him again when they went out for coffee or a sandwich at lunchtime. They knew they would have to testify against him," Paciulli said, and they were troubled that they might run into him on the streets.
"It was really a morale issue for the staff here. There's a certain element of fear that was created with the staff. It takes a real toll, because when you think it's just a random bank robber who lives two towns away, you don't think you're going to run into him again.
But everyone says he hangs out in the pub, and that's what made it worse."
What was going through Paciulli's mind when he took chase after the alleged bank robber?
"I was thinking of that movie 'Network,' where he said he's mad as hell and not going to take it anymore," the bank president said this week. "Seeing the women being terrified over the last week and a half, and the sense of being held hostage, for the sake of the neighborhood this young man needed to be caught. And that's all I was thinking when I went after him, to get him out of this neighborhood. This is a good neighborhood."
But what would he have done if he had caught up with him without the police?
"I grew up in the city, and no one takes anything away from you," he said. " I knew he would end up subdued and on the ground."
Jake Wark, a spokesperson for District Attorney Daniel Conley said Anderson was arraigned in Dorchester District Court Monday on the armed and unarmed charges for the two incidents. He was held on $25,000 cash bail for last Friday's failed attempt and an additional $100,000 on the successful one, for a total of $125,000.
Wark said that Anderson was on bail out of Norfolk County on a Quincy robbery, and that has been revoked.