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Police say St. Petersburg bank robber homeless, wanted to be arrested

St. Petersburg police officers investigate the scene of a Thursday afternoon attempted bank robbery at a Wachovia bank branch at 125 Fifth St. S.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

St. Petersburg police officers investigate the scene of a Thursday afternoon attempted bank robbery at a Wachovia bank branch at 125 Fifth St. S.

ST. PETERSBURG — A homeless man accused of robbing a downtown bank Thursday afternoon said he wanted to be arrested, police said.

About 1 p.m., police said, Lawrence Glen Purson, 53, handed a teller at Wachovia Bank, 125 Fifth St. S, a note that said, "This is a holdup, no one will get hurt, call the police. OK."

Bank employees did just that and police arrived moments later. Purson was arrested as he walked out of the building. He didn't have a weapon and he didn't receive any money from the bank.

Afterward, Purson told detectives he is homeless and wanted to be arrested, police said. He said he was recently evicted from Pinellas Hope and that jail was his best bet.

Police said Purson has no significant criminal history in the area and only a few misdemeanor arrests.

Jonathan Ross, 47, was at the bank setting up a college account for his 4-month-old daughter, Jada. He said he didn't even hear the robbery happening.

"What gets me is it was just quiet," Ross said. "There was no panic in the air."

Afterward, a bank worker walked over to the room where Ross was setting up the account and told him what happened.

"I thought he was joking, man," he said. "I thought it was a Halloween prank."

Police say St. Petersburg bank robber homeless, wanted to be arrested 10/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 29, 2010 12:03am]
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