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Customer helps thwart bank robbery in Jersey City, authorities say (Downtown)
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By Patrick Villanova | The Jersey Journal
on April 26, 2017 at 6:07 PM, updated April 26, 2017 at 6:44 PM

JERSEY CITY -- A bank robber donning a gas mask and wielding a long metal rod was arrested Tuesday after one brave customer apprehended the man and held him down while police responded to the scene, federal authorities announced today.

Billy Le, 25, of Jersey City, is charged with one count of bank robbery after allegedly robbing a Wells Fargo Bank with a red-tipped metal rod. He made his first appearance on the charge this afternoon in Newark federal court.

According to a complaint filed by the office of Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick, Le entered the bank wearing a black gas mask while holding a black duffel bag in one hand and the apparent weapon in the other hand. He approached a tell teller and yelled, "Give me your money. Give me all your money," prompting another employee to call the police, authorities said.

Still wielding the metal rod, Le climbed onto the teller's counter and threatened the teller with violence. But that's when a bank customer approached Le from behind, pulled him off the counter, and held him down until law enforcement officers arrived minutes later, Fitzpatrick's office said.

Law enforcement officers arrested Le at the scene and recovered the duffel bag and the metal rod, which appeared to be a pipe bomb. The officers evacuated the bank, after which Emergency Service Unit officers examined the device and determined that it was not an explosive, authorities said.

The duffel bag contained, among other things, a large knife, Fitzpatrick's office said.

The bank is located on Hudson Street, near the foot of Montgomery Street and Exchange Place.

The government was represented by assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua L. Haber, while Le was represented by K. Anthony Thomas, assistant federal public defender of Newark.

The bank robbery count carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

Posted on: 4/26 20:26
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