ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — The bank robbery suspects accused of leading police on a chase through three communities faced a judge on Tuesday.
James Bennet-Werra, 18, and Deurique Mendes, 31, were arraigned on armed robbery charges. Both pleaded not guilty.
Police said Mendes will also face a long list of traffic charges related to the chase.
Police were called to the Rockland Trust Bank on Route 123 in Attleboro around 2 p.m. Monday for reports of a bank robbery.
In court Tuesday, prosecutors said Bennet-Werra handed the teller a note demanding money. According to court documents, the partially-misspelled noted read:
“ROBBERY 2ND DRAW $50 $20 $100 ONLY!!! NO FUNNYTRICKS OR DIE PACK AND NOBODY DIES TODAY I MEAN IT.”
A dye pack is something used to mark stolen cash during a bank robbery. The teller’s drawer actually had no cash in it, according to the police affidavit. She then pressed an emergency button as the suspect left the bank and got into a car with Mendes.
According to Attleboro Police Chief Kyle Heagney, the suspects took off from the bank in a dark blue sedan with Connecticut plates.
Heagney said he heard the description of the car broadcast over his radio, then saw the vehicle and tried to pull the suspects over. However, he said the driver did not stop – beginning the pursuit that would go through Attleboro, Norton and Taunton.
“He willfully tried to elude the police,” Heagney recalled. “He took numerous lefts and rights through the streets of Norton, didn’t obey one stop sign, one red light.”
The chase covered about 15 miles with speeds reaching over 100 mph as the vehicle sped along various side streets and Route 495. Heagney said the vehicle eventually took Exit 9, where Taunton Police Chief Edward Walsh deployed two stop sticks. With two flat tires, the car slowed.
“It’s extremely rare. I think all the planets had to line up to have this happen,” Heagney said. “When you have a Chief pursuing a bank robbery suspect, and another Chief deploying stop sticks to stop the bank robbery suspects.”
Heaney says he used a maneuver to ram into the car and stop it for good, as it was driving on two rims toward a school bus with children.
He said he hasn’t ever had to use the maneuver before–except for in the Police Academy.
“I don’t usually like to damage my cruiser,” he said.
Heagney said officers found evidence of the bank robbery inside the vehicle. Police took the two men into custody.
In court Tuesday, Mendes’ public defender said he saw the police lights and “panicked,” which is why he didn’t pull over.
In a police affidavit, Bennet-Werra told police he had been held hostage by Mendes for the past three months. Police stated that was impossible, since Mendes had just been released from incarceration.
Mendes’ bail was set at $100,000 and Bennet-Werra’s was set at $50,000, but neither will be released after the judge revoked their bail for two separate, unrelated pending criminal cases.