Citizens chase down, hold bank robbery suspect 07-29-03

PHONE: 961-2251
JULY 29, 2003

Barry Brenton Powers

…nabbed by citizens


Police arrested a 25-year-old man for bank robbery Tuesday (July 29, 2003) after the fleeing suspect was chased down and captured by bank employees, bank customers and passers-by.

The suspect was identified as Barry Brenton Powers, 25, of no permanent address. Powers is being held in the Hilo police cellblock pending investigation by Hilo Criminal Investigation Section detectives.

Responding to a 9:30 a.m. call, Hilo patrol officers determined that a masked male suspect entered the Waiakea branch of the Bank of Hawaii on East Kawili Street.

Wearing a kerchief over the lower part of his face, the suspect approached a bank teller, pretended to have a handgun in his jacket pocket and demanded money. After receiving an undisclosed amount of cash, the robber fled the scene on foot.

A female bank employee and a male customer gave chase as the suspect ran toward Banyan Drive on Kanoelehua Avenue.

While chasing the suspect, a passing motorist stopped and picked up the pursuing bank customer, and the two continued the pursuit in the car.

The suspect then ran across Kanoelehua Avenue and continued running toward the rubbish dump on Leilani Street. As they approached the suspect, the bank customer jumped out of the car and tackled the suspect. With the help of another passing motorist who stopped to help, he managed to restrain the suspect until a nearby off-duty police officer arrived to handcuff the suspect. Police then recovered an undisclosed amount of cash and arrested the suspect.

Police Chief Lawrence K. Mahuna praised the four persons who chased the suspect and held him until the officers arrived, calling them “outstanding citizens for their actions in apprehending a fleeing suspect.”

Although he noted that police usually advise residents to call, but not apprehend suspects, Mahuna thanked the four for their “courage and civic mindedness.”

Tuesday’s robbery marked the third time in a little more than a month that a bank had been the scene of a robbery or attempted robbery — and the second time the Waiakea branch had been hit.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 24, 2003, a masked man wearing a hat, a long-sleeved shirt and dark-colored pants entered the Waiakea branch, brandished a machete and approached a teller. He then climbed over the counter, opened a cash drawer and grabbed money from the drawer. He then approached a second teller, opened a second cash drawer and grabbed more cash.

The suspect then left the bank and was last seen fleeing on a bicycle west on Lanikaula Street with an undetermined amount of cash.

On the previous Tuesday, an attempted robbery occurred at the Home Street Bank in Hilo.

In that robbery attempt, a lone male walked into the bank shortly after 1 p.m. wearing a cloth over his head, a respirator covering his nose and mouth, dark-colored pants and a long-sleeved shirt.

The suspect brandished a knife and demanded money several times from the tellers. When the tellers ignored him, he climbed over the counter and tried to open locked drawers. Unable to obtain any money, the suspect climbed back over the counter and into the lobby area, where he again demanded money. When he failed to obtain any money, he threw his knife down and ran out of the bank.

The suspect was last seen riding a dark-colored bicycle toward Kilauea Avenue and traveling in the Puna direction.

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