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Man plows pickup through downtown Synovus bank building, St. Pete police say

Officers used a Taser, pepper spray and a canine to subdue the driver, according to St. Petersburg police.
Police say Christopher Louis Lea, 34, was behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Avalanche with an Arkansas plate when he drove into the front of the Synovus bank, 333 3rd Ave. N., in St. Petersburg early Sunday morning. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]

ST. PETERSBURG — A 34-year-old man who may have been under the influence of drugs drove a pickup truck through the front doors of a downtown bank early Sunday morning, according to St. Petersburg police, and was taken into custody after being shocked, pepper-sprayed and bitten by a police dog.

The crash took place just before 5 a.m. at the Synovus bank building at 333 Third Ave. N.

Christopher Louis Lea was behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Avalanche with an Arkansas plate that he drove into the front of the bank, according to the arrest report.

When officers arrived they tried to get Lea out of the truck, police said, but he resisted. Police said Lea at one point accelerated, pushing the truck farther into the bank as he was holding onto an officer. He also revved the engine and tried to drive away from the bank, the report said.

Officers said they twice shocked Lea using a Taser electroshock device and doused him with pepper spray. What finally got him out of the pickup was a "K9 officer dog bite,” the arrest report said.

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After he was pulled from the truck, police said Lea continued to fight officers with “a high level of physical resistance.”

Officers noted in the arrest reports that Lea appeared to be under the influence of drugs. He was arrested on charges of resisting arrest, leaving the scene of a crash, battery on a police officer and possession of marijuana.

Lea, who police listed as being a transient, was being held Monday in the Pinellas County jail in lieu of $15,550 bail. The front of the building was still boarded up that day.