Pizza delivery driver dies in bank robbery, coworker's death may be connected

 
Sept. 1, 2003

ERIE, Pa. -- A bizarre series of events including a pizza delivery, a bank robbery and the death of two pizzeria coworkers has authorities here baffled.

According to ABCNews.com, on Aug. 28, Mama Mia's Pizza-Ria driver Brian Douglas Wells, 46, left to deliver two pizzas to a remote location near a radio transmission tower. Authorities believe he then traveled to a bank, entered the building and gave a teller a note that demanded cash and claimed he had a bomb strapped to his chest.

Wells then left the bank with the cash, drove a short distance and was stopped by police, pulled from his vehicle and handcuffed.

A New York Times report said Wells told the officers that during the pizza delivery, the customer forced him to wear the bomb and told him to rob the bank. He also told officers the bomb was set to explode and asked for help removing the device.

Believing Wells was telling the truth, officers backed away. Videotape taken at the scene by a photographer from WJET-TV showed Wells saying, "It's going to go off. I'm not lying."

Special Agent Bob Rudge, a supervisor in the F.B.I.'s Erie office, said the state police ordered Wells to sit on the pavement near a police car. They cleared the area around him and called in the Erie Police bomb squad. However, the bomb exploded before the squad arrived, killing Wells.

Rudge said Well's death had not been ruled a homicide.

"There is information that he was forced to don this type of apparatus," Rudge told the Times. "That is what we are investigating. Whether or not that is the case, we just don't know yet."

The tale took a strange turn on Sept. 1, when Robert Pinetti, Wells' friend and co-worker at the pizza shop, died at his parents' home, where he lived.

Though an Associated Press report quoted police saying there was no obvious connection between the two deaths, authorities did send a bomb squad to search the premises where 43-year-old Pinetti lived.

That morning police received a call for medical assistance at Pinetti's home, however he refused their help. A few hours later, authorities were called back to the house when Pinetti's parents found him dead.

"There was nothing overtly obvious as to the cause of his death," Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Mark Zaleski told the Times, "but because there's a relationship between the two individuals, we are over there."

According to ABCNews.com, autopsy results are expected to be released on Sept. 2., and may help establish a link between the coworkers' deaths.

According to a source at Mama Mia's Pizza-Ria, Wells left the shop to make the delivery at about 1:40 p.m. F.B.I. agents believe he did make the delivery because no pies were found in his car.

Wells' landlord told ABCNews.com the man was "impeccably honest."


Topics: Crime , Independent Operation


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