Bank's Surveillance Images Still Leave Question about Robber Who Died

Robber in images was a man who indicated that the bomb was locked to his neck by someone else


ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Recently released images from a bank robbery in which the robber was later killed when a bomb attached to his neck exploded indicate he was unaware he would soon die, according to the FBI.

Two years after the death of Brian Wells, authorities have made no arrests and are unable to say whether the pizza deliveryman was a willing participant, or victim.

The bank surveillance photographs show Wells, 46, of Erie, sucking on a lollipop in the PNC Bank at Summit Towne Centre on Aug. 28, 2003, the day of the robbery.

Wells arrived at the bank about 40 minutes before he robbed it and then, appearing calm, left with an undisclosed amount of cash in a plastic grocery bag. The bomb was under his T-shirt and he also carried a cane-shaped firearm, but used it only as a cane.

State police stopped Wells moments after the robbery. He was sitting handcuffed in a parking lot surrounded by police, who kept their distance while waiting for a bomb squad to arrive, when the device exploded 22 minutes after he left the bank. Wells told the officers that somebody locked the bomb onto him.

"Brian's demeanor inside the PNC Bank on that fateful day depicts a man who did not know he would soon die as a result of an explosive device strapped to his body," the FBI in Erie said in a statement released with the images.

The release coincided with Saturday's scheduled broadcast of Fox's "America's Most Wanted" episode on the case. The FBI is also hoping that anyone with information about the case will come forward.

In the statement, the FBI described Wells as "a quiet, somewhat shy and reserved man" who "lived alone, with his cats, and enjoyed an uncomplicated life."

"Investigators believe that if the public had a better understanding of who Brian Wells was, they would be motivated to come forward with information to help resolve this case," the statement said.

"Brian was a human being who died because he may have trusted people he should not have trusted and he possibly misjudged the purpose for his being at the bank that day."

Andrew Wilson, the head of the FBI office in Erie, said investigators are "getting closer and closer."

"We are still looking for the missing piece. We know significantly more now than we did in August 2003," Wilson said.

© 2005 Associated Press