A veteran Lexington police sergeant's premonition, vigilant bank employees and an alleged robber's repetitive behavior combined to thwart a bank heist as it unfolded, police said Friday.
Sgt. Pete Ford, who has been with the department 21 years, had about eight officers inside and outside the American Founders Bank on Walden Drive on Thursday when a man who had been visiting the bank regularly returned to rob the bank, police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.
Ford "decided we needed to be there yesterday," Roberts said. "He had this hunch something bad was going to happen."
About 4:50 p.m. Thursday, Derrius King, 26, was arrested inside the bank with a gun, Roberts said. He was charged with attempted robbery, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm and carrying a concealed weapon.
Evidence uncovered after the arrest indicated that King had intended to rob the bank after days of casing the business, Roberts said.
Police were tipped off by bank employees who were concerned by King's visits over several days. He would act like a customer, filling out an application, asking questions about bank services. The employees took preventative action.
"They saw something wasn't right and they called us," Roberts said.
Bank security officer Donna Collins said bank employees train to help spot patterns of behavior and possibly prevent a robbery.
"The employees out there did a really good job," Collins said.
King realized Thursday that something wasn't right on his return visit — perhaps the presence of more "customers" — and he started to run out of the bank. Investigators nabbed him before he got far.
Roberts said the case should be a warning to would-be criminals. "You never know where police might be lurking," she said.