Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bristol Township man charged in bank robbery

James Friel also allegedly stole a car and hit two cars while trying to elude police.

Bristol Township man charged in bank robbery

Blog Image
James W. Friel (Bristol Township Police)

A Bristol Township man stole a car, robbed a bank and hit two cars while trying to elude police, Bristol Township police said Thursday.   

James W. Friel, 36, of Aster Lane, was caught after leading police on a car chase on I-95 and had to be subdued with a Taser, police said. He was being held in Bucks County Prison in lieu of $5 million bail on charges of robbery, aggravated asssault, receiving stolen property, fleeing or trying to elude police, accidents involving injury, reckless driving and driving with a suspened license.  

Police gave this account of the alleged robbery of the TD Bank branch on New Falls and Oxford Valley roads and the events surrounding it:

At about 2 a.m. Sunday, David Shellenberger of reported his green 2008 Saturn Vue stolen from the parking lot of the Hurricane Jack Bar on New Falls Road. Shellenberger said his keys had been stolen in the bar.

Just before 1 p.m. Monday, a man handed a teller at the TD Bank branch a note demanding money and saying he had a gun. The teller gave him $337, and the man fled, but the bank’s surveillance cameras captured his image.

At about 3:50 p.m., Philadelphia police officers spotted the Vue heading north on I-95. During  the pursuit, the Vue struck a marked patrol car driven by Officer Joseph Wolk. The Vue got off the highway at Street Road. Near Street Road and Samuel Drive, the driver jumped out of the moving car and ran off as the Vue hit a 2004 Honda driven by Amine Rahmouni.

Police found Friel and used a Taser to arrest him. He was taken to Aria Health Torresdale in Northeast Philadelphia for treatment of wounds from the Taser.  At the hospital, Friel admitted to township detectives that he had stolen the Vue, robbed the TD Bank branch, fled from police and jumped out of the moving car, causing an accident.

Friel was arraigned Thursday before District Judge Robert Wagner.       

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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