Man in custody after he allegedly flings green liquid inside Newton bank; no injuries reported
NEWTON — A Boston man allegedly burst into a small bank in the Waban neighborhood today and flung green liquid from a water bottle at startled employees and customers before jumping on the counter and snatching cash from a drawer, Newton police said.
Some of the liquid landed on a male employee, who later told police the robber threatened to ignite the liquid. “I’ll put you on fire,’’ the thief allegedly told the teller, who was taken to Newton-Wellesley Hospital for decontamination and later released.
Fire department investigators made a preliminary determination that the liquid was organic and nontoxic, but a final determination will be made by a testing laboratory in Jamaica Plain, said Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker, a police spokesman.
The incident occurred at 9 a.m. today, about two hours after The Village Bank at 89 Wyman St., in Waban Village, had opened. There were several clients inside when Lashon Payton, 37, allegedly entered and yelled for everyone to get to the floor, police said.
As the clients and employees complied with the demand, Payton allegedly started flinging the liquid. He then grabbed some cash and ran out of the bank, down Wyman Street. Two police officers on detail saw the suspect running and chased him down Tamworth Road.
Moments later, police found Payton in the rear of a residence in the 800 block of Chestnut Street, squatting behind a gas grill. He was arrested and arraigned today in Newton District Court, where he pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Payton, a resident of Capen Street in Dorchester and the father of two children, was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail pending a dangerousness hearing now set for next Tuesday.
His defense attorney, Robert Menton, said in court that Payton is the victim of a flawed investigation and has been wrongly charged with the crime. Police described the suspect as someone who was 6 feet tall and was wearing dark clothing, but his client is 5-foot-7 and was wearing a white T-shirt, Menton said.
“His only mistake today was coming into Newton,’’ Menton said.
But Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Craig Estes said in court that witnesses identified Payton as the robber and that police have forensic evidence linking him to the crime — some of the $432 in cash found on Payton after his arrest had Village Bank money wrappers on them.
Payton is employed as a claims specialist with Delta Dental, according to the police report.
Before the robbery, several witnesses told police they had observed a “shady looking character’’ standing at the corner of Wyman Street, looking suspicious because he was wearing sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt with the hood over his head, despite the heat and humidity.
The bank closed after the incident and remained shuttered this afternoon, with yellow police tape forming a perimeter around the front entrance. Several people who work in nearby businesses declined to comment about the incident.
“That bank has been robbed three times in recent memory,” Apotheker said. “But that is a very safe neighborhood, with a lot of shops there and the Waban T Station across the street.”
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