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Bank robber left his I.D., police say

Moments before demanding money and announcing he had a gun, Freeman Brown offered the bank teller his identification card, according to police.

After hiding briefly in a nearby restaurant, he was caught unarmed within 15 minutes by officers who had his name and a precise description, police said.

They also had the good fortune of being close. The bank is one block from the Clearwater Police Department.

Brown, 39, of 2345 13th St. S in St. Petersburg, was charged with one count of bank robbery and taken to the Pinellas County Jail.

According to police and witnesses:

Brown entered First Florida Bank, 600 Cleveland St., about 2 p.m. and asked to complete a banking transaction. When a teller asked him if he had an account at the bank, Brown said yes and offered his state photo identification card to help confirm it.

Brown demanded an undisclosed amount of cash after the teller determined he did not have an account at the bank. He walked west across a side street to a city parking garage, waited a few minutes, then opened a door off Waterson Avenue.

Brown had entered the kitchen of Ottavio's Place restaurant, 45 N Fort Harrison Ave.

"He just walked in the back door and asked us to call him a taxi," said Luigi Piotti, a manager at the restaurant. "He kept walking back and forth and said, "You didn't call the police, did you?' We said, "Why would we call the police? You asked us to call a taxi.' "

Brown had a roll of $100 bills in his hand, Piotti said. "He was nervous as hell."

Meanwhile, police officers who had been searching the downtown neighborhood came toward the kitchen door, Piotti said. Brown darted through the dining room of the restaurant, where a table of four was finishing a late lunch, he said.

With police closing in, he darted south on Fort Harrison Avenue then west on Laura Street, where he was caught in a parking lot.

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