PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Police said Wednesday they would seek charges against a practical joker who planted phony stickup notes at a bank and set off a chain of events that ended in an innocent man being frisked at gunpoint.
Detective Capt. Anthony J. Pires said the suspect, a Pittsfield man in his 30s whom he would not identify, was playing a joke when he wrote the notes on the backs of two deposit slips at the ComFed Savings Bank then left them for unsuspecting customers to use.
When a customer tried to use one of the slips to deposit part of his Social Security check, a teller emptied her cash drawer in front of him while another notified police.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday in Central Berkshire District Court, where police will try to have the man charged with disturbing the peace, he said.
The suspect confessed to the practical joke Tuesday after reading about the Monday afternoon incident in a newspaper, Pires said.
'I don't think his intent was to steal any money,' Pires said. 'His intent was to pull a joke. But he caused a dangerous situation that disturbed the peace of the customers at the bank.'
According to police, the first of the two bogus notes read 'This is a stickup' and was handed over to a teller, who didn't see it until after the customer had left. She thought the note curious but did not pursue it further.
Another customer, a man in his 60s, handed in the second slip. When the teller read 'I have a gun' on its back, she put the contents of her cash drawer in front of him while others in the bank caught on to what was happening and called police.
The customer explained he did not want the money and walked out, only to be met at his car by two police officers with guns drawn, Pires said. The officers frisked the man but later apologized after realizing a mistake had been made.
'The man was very upset,' Pires said. 'He didn't know what was happening and people were pointing guns at him. The teller started to cry. She was very frustrated by the whole thing.'