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Published: Saturday, 10/5/2013 - Updated: 9 months ago

Sylvania man helps police nab alleged bank robber

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Officers investigate a bank robbery after catching the suspect on a bus at North Erie and Madison streets in downtown Toledo. Officers investigate a bank robbery after catching the suspect on a bus at North Erie and Madison streets in downtown Toledo.
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Jeremy Fowler thought it was strange that the man in front of him at the bank was wearing sunglasses inside.

It wasn't even sunny — in fact, it was raining at 2 p.m. Friday.

The man in sunglasses passed a teller at Key Bank, 245 N. Superior St., a note — “I want everything 100’s, 50’s, 20’s, 10’s, and don’t give me any funny money,” police said the note stated.

“I looked over his shoulder, it said, ‘This is a stick up,’ and he had a hand inside his shirt,” Mr. Fowler said. “Super quiet he told the lady, ‘Be quiet.’ As soon as I saw that, and as soon as I saw the note … I took off.”

Mr. Fowler, 26, of Sylvania, stood outside the bank doors, on the phone with 911 operators and motioning to another teller that the bank was being robbed.

“The first instinct in a bank robbery is to avoid it,” Mr. Fowler said. “If someone is going to do a stick up, I don’t want to be inside.”

The alleged bandit left out a different set of doors, and Mr. Fowler followed him.

Mr. Fowler hung back far enough so the suspect, who he thought might have a gun, wouldn’t hear his conversation with a dispatcher, but close enough to not lose sight.

After a couple blocks, the alleged robber stopped to use a portable toilet, Mr. Fowler said.

“The whole time I’m on the phone with the cops saying what he’s dressed in, he has a blue bag of money, he’s stopped in a Port-a-Potty,” Mr. Fowler said.

The suspect then got onto a TARTA bus parked on North Erie Street near Madison Avenue, and sat down.

Mr. Fowler tapped on the windshield, told the bus driver not to go anywhere, and then saw “about 15” police headed toward him.

He flagged down Officer Rick Fisher, from the motorcycle unit, pointing the officer toward bus 715.

Officer Fisher got on the bus and ordered everyone to put their hands in the air.

With the help of Mr. Fowler, police identified the suspected robber as Leon Napier, 59, of 1460 South Ave.

Turned out the suspect didn’t have a gun, but rather an umbrella.

Mr. Napier was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery and taken to the Lucas County jail.

He’s expected to be arraigned Monday in Toledo Municipal Court.

“It wasn’t fun,” Mr. Fowler said. “Not that anything bad happened, but you feel sick to your stomach. It was scary.”

Contact Taylor Dungjen at tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.



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