He didn’t get away with the money, but a Spokane Valley bank robbery suspect enjoyed a few beers before his trip to jail.
Gregory James Bentley, 46, of Chewelah, gave himself up to police Monday afternoon - after being tracked down by a Pizza Hut manager, a bloodhound named “Judge” and several Washington State Patrol speed-enforcement planes.
Soon after Horizon Credit Union was robbed, an exploding dye pack stained the suspect’s clothes and loot bright red.
Even so, he stopped by the Iron Horse Bar and Grill on East Sprague and downed three beers, authorities said. The bartender said she noticed his money was stained, but decided not to question him.
The robbery occurred at 1:30 p.m., when a white man entered the credit union at 12th and Pines and demanded money. He didn’t show a weapon, but held his hand in his pocket as if he had one.
As he left the credit union parking lot, employees at a Pizza Hut across the street saw the dye pack explode. Restaurant manager James Burton jumped into his 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo to pursue the suspect.
Burton didn’t have to drive very fast.
“He never really exceeded the speed limit,” Burton said. “He lit up a cigarette and just drove around.”
After cruising a few miles, the suspect parked his car at an auto parts store just north of Sprague on University. There, he dropped a toy pistol on the ground before heading out on foot.
As the suspect made his way to the bar, Burton called the Sheriff’s Department to report that the robber had ditched his car. Meanwhile, WSP planes searched from above, while “Judge,” using scent from the toy gun, began to track the suspect.
The search didn’t last long.
After drinking at the Iron Horse, the suspect went to Winestein’z restaurant a few doors down and called police.
Deputies and an FBI agent found Bentley there, waiting quietly in the restaurant parking lot. They found the stolen money stuffed in a garbage can in the Iron Horse men’s room.
Bentley was booked into the Spokane County Jail; his Buick was impounded as evidence.
Afterward, Burton said he appreciated the afternoon excitement.
“It’s kind of dull during the days here,” he said. “It was a change in the daily lull.”
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