A 60-year-old man who attempted back-to-back robberies at a bank and liquor store in Southgate Plaza was quickly apprehended Wednesday afternoon, thanks to passers-by, Fort Wayne police said.
Officer Scott Tegtmeyer, a city police spokesman, said the man entered the Chase bank at 204. E. Pettit Ave. and gave a note to a teller. The note stated that the man was robbing the bank and wanted large bills.
"The teller refused to comply with the note, and the man left the bank," Tegtmeyer said.
The man immediately went two doors down to Belmont Beverage, 134 E. Pettit Ave., and approached a clerk, who had just finished a transaction and still had her cash drawer open. He punched the clerk several times in the chest and took an undetermined amount of cash, Tegtmeyer said.
The robber then fled from the liquor store and ran north toward the Salvation Army thrift store, which is also in Southgate Plaza.
Jessica Rosales, an assistant manager at the Salvation Army, described the robber's pace as a "pretty fast jog." She said he was on the sidewalk as he passed the storefront.
A second clerk from the liquor store chased the man, yelling, "We've been robbed!" Tegtmeyer said. That clerk, when police arrived, gave them a description of the robber.
"She told them he was wearing a baseball hat, a blue jacket," Rosales said. The police "took off that way and caught him on the corner of Blockbuster, and that was it."
Tegtmeyer said two young men walking nearby heard the clerk yelling and stopped the robber.
"They snatch the guy up and hold him on the ground until the police arrived, which was almost immediately," he said.
Police officers, who were dispatched to the scene about 1:45 p.m., identified the alleged robber as James A. Howell of Fort Wayne.
Tegtmeyer said Howell did not display a weapon or suggest he had one while in the bank or the liquor store. No weapons were found on him when he was caught, Tegtmeyer said.
Howell was held at the Allen County Lockup on preliminary charges of robbery, attempted robbery and battery. His bail was set at $20,750.