Police chase suspect through Missouri, Illinois

Saturday, January 19, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- A would-be bank robber, frightened by a passing fire department car, took a hostage Friday in Jefferson County and ordered her to drive him away in a chase that crossed into Illinois.

The pursuit ended peacefully back in Missouri, but not before the man put a gun to the woman's head, according to a report.

Zachariah Bell, 26, was taken into custody by the FBI. The woman, whose name was not released, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

Bell faces numerous charges, including bank robbery, kidnapping, armed criminal action and interstate flight, said Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver "Glenn" Boyer.

"You have got all kinds of things," Boyer said.

Boyer said Bell entered a Farmers Bank branch in Shady Valley, about 20 miles south of St. Louis, jumped behind the counter and declared he was robbing the bank.

"As he is doing this, a Shady Valley Fire Department vehicle passed the front of the bank and sees everybody with their hands up, so he calls 911," Boyer said. "The individual in the bank sees the Shady Valley fire car and thinks it's a police car. That spooks him, so at that time he takes a patron of the bank hostage."

The suspect forced the woman into her own car. As they pulled out of the bank's parking lot, sheriff's deputies arrived and chased the car for about 40 minutes.

The pursuit went north into Illinois, back into Missouri on the Poplar Street bridge, briefly through downtown St. Louis and onto the city's north side on Interstate 70.

It ended in St. Louis County on I-70 when the car hit a patch of gravel on the shoulder and spun.

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