CLEARWATER — Police say a daring buffoon botched a dramatic bank robbery in spectacular fashion recently in Clearwater, the escapade ending with erupting paint bombs and a car chase by police.
According to police, Anquan Walters, 37, entered the Hancock Bank branch in the late afternoon in an elaborate disguise, with glasses, a phony beard and a makeshift pantyhose mask. Unlike many latter-day bank robbers who simply make quiet demands for money of the tellers, Walters leaped over the counter brandishing a handgun and ordered everyone to the ground.
The witless thief demanded money and fled with what he could grab, heading north on U.S. Highway 19 in that most-desirable of getaway vehicles, a 1998 Toyota Camry.
It was at that approximate point that the bank’s dye packs exploded on the stolen cash. The novel solution Walters devised for this problem was to begin hurling the stacks of marked bills onto the highway.
Pinellas County deputies pursuing Walters could only look on in wonder as the frantic would-be escapee divested himself on his ill-gotten gains while racing away in a vain attempt to find freedom.
A tire-deflation device from deputies eventually brought the vehicular portion of the chase to a close, though not before Walters managed to collide with two cars at the intersection of Countryside Boulevard and Curlew Road. In a moment reminiscent of The Blues Brothers, pursuing officer Phillip Love was unable to stop in time and promptly added his marked car to the collision as well. (The drivers of the other vehicles suffered only minor injuries.)
Walters, now a clownish figure covered in colored dye, fled the scene of the accident on foot and sought refuge in an apartment complex close the to scene. From there, deputies had little trouble apprehending the hapless suspect and carting him off to Pinellas County Jail.
Among Walters’s many charges are counts of armed robbery and fleeing law enforcement, as well as counts related to leaving the scene of the car accident he caused.
All in all, a caper probably not destined for the annals of true crime lore.