Sept. 7, 2003
ERIE, Pa. -- Delivery driver Brian Wells, killed on Aug. 28 by an explosive device attached to his chest, was a quiet, contented man who'd delivered pizzas for years, friends and colleagues say (see related stories Pizza delivery driver dies in bank robbery, coworker's death may be connected).
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 46-year-old's bizarre death following a bank robbery continues to baffle police investigators. At least one friend believes Wells never intended to rob a bank, only deliver pizzas.
"Brian was happy with what he had," Jim Sadowski, a pizzeria owner and former co-worker, told the Times. "This is something he could never have dreamed up."
On the afternoon of Aug. 28, Wells left Mama Mia's Pizza-Ria, where he had worked for the last several years, to deliver two small pizzas to an address near a remote television transmitter. And though delivery drivers prefer stops at more conspicuous locations, Sadowski said such secluded drop points normally aren't problematic.
"We'd go out all the time to street corners, yards, you name it," Sadowski said. "We never thought twice about it. But we are now."
Investigators aren't certain whether someone at that location strapped an explosive device to Wells' chest and instructed him to rob a nearby bank, or whether the robbery was a crime staged by Wells himself. (According to other press reports, Wells also was carrying another gun-like device, but investigators would not elaborate further on the weapon, nor share any theories on how Wells got it.)
Police said that when they pulled Wells' car over shortly after the robbery and asked him to step out, he didn't mention the device. However, when an officer saw a large bulge beneath Wells' shirt, he then began begging them to help him remove the device, saying it was timed to go off.
The officers backed away and called the bomb squad for help, but the device exploded before the squad got to the scene. According to an autopsy, the device did lethal damage to Wells' heart.
Wells' boss, Tony Ditomo, owner of Mama Mia's, said he could not talk about his friend, adding: "It hurts too much inside."