While waiting for a drive-up ATM to spit out his money late Monday night, the driver of a Chevy Cobalt was startled by an armed man who had snuck up on the driver's-side window, police said.
The robber stuck a handgun in the driver's face, grabbed the cash, and took off, Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum of Northeast Detectives said Tuesday, recounting the 11 p.m. holdup at the Wells Fargo Bank at 7345 Bustleton Ave.
What happened next was a series of events that resulted in police identifying a suspect and the victim, a Portuguese immigrant who has been here about a month, getting his money back.
The driver, who had his wife and their small child in the car, sped off, leaving his debit card in the machine.
"After he leaves," Rosenbaum said, "he decides to go back and look for the debit card."
When he returned to the ATM, he thought, his attacker should be gone.
"He wasn't gone," Rosenbaum said.
The attacker, wearing a hooded sweatshirt pulled tightly around his face and exposing only black sunglasses, popped up again, except this time he had a knife, Rosenbaum said.
The driver drove into the robber, hitting him and tossing him onto Bustleton - but not before he was able to plunge his knife into the windshield.
The driver got out of his car, went through his aggressor's pockets, found his money and debit card, and drove home, Rosenbaum said.
Police found the attacker lying in the road with blood seeping through the top of his hooded sweatshirt around midnight. They also found a large knife nearby, Rosenbaum said.
Police located the Cobalt a quarter-of-a-mile away on Rutland Street near Tyson Avenue, Rosenbaum said, noticed a hole in the windshield, and connected the dots.
The driver, who doesn't speak English, relayed the story to police through an interpreter. Rosenbaum said still images from the bank's surveillance cameras corroborated the immigrant's story.
The attacker, a 49-year-old man, suffered severe head wounds, and will be hospitalized for at least a week, Rosenbaum said. He will be charged with robbery after he's discharged.
And unless additional video evidence shows otherwise, Rosenbaum said, he didn't expect the driver to face charges.
"Seeing as he's the victim of a robbery," Rosenbaum said.