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Police: Chesterfield robbery suspect nabbed after taking coffee break at hotel

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) — A police officer’s four-legged friend is credited with an assist in the arrest of an accused bank robber Thursday, which witnesses say happened because the suspect took a coffee break at a nearby hotel.

Chesterfield Police say James Smith Jr. walked into a Wells Fargo Thursday morning with a note for the teller, demanding money.

Minutes later he was seen running through the parking lot of Meeks Motors across Midlothian Turnpike, and down Research Road.

“He was zigzagging through some of our cars, got to right there and took off running,” said Keri Divia, a manager at Meeks. “It was very wild.”

Police say Smith then stumbled into the lobby of the adjacent Hampton Inn.

Surveillance video shows a man who appears to be Smith, coming into the hotel and approaching the check-in counter. Apparently, he didn’t want a room, though.

“He asked for a taxi company, so I called the taxi company we usually deal with and then he started to say things I didn’t understand,” said manager Mohammed Eissa. Eventually Eissa was able to determine that Smith wanted a cab to Petersburg, and says he noticed Smith was nervous.

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“I told him to please have a seat and grab some coffee while he waited; we are in the hospitality business you know,” he said laughing. “We take care of every guest, I guess, even if you robbed a bank.”

Eissa says Smith fumbled with his pockets, then all of a sudden started to run out of a side entrance towards the Target parking lot where a K-9 unit with other officers raced to him. By the time Eissa got outside, the police dog was on top of Smith and police had him in cuffs.

“I’ve only seen stuff like this in the movies,” said Eissa. “I was like, I’m seeing an action movie here.”

Smith and the officer were treated for minor injuries. And Smith is at the Chesterfield County Jail, spending the long holiday weekend behind bars.

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