Bomb victim toted a concealed weapon — (USA Today)

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USA Today

Kevin Johnson

Sept. 3, 2003 12:00 AM

 Finding muddies search for motive
A man who was killed last week when a bomb locked around his neck exploded after he had robbed a bank in Erie, Pa., was carrying a concealed weapon when he died, a law enforcement source involved in the investigation said Tuesday.Authorities declined to describe the weapon found with Brian Wells, 46, a pizza deliveryman whose unusual death Thursday left a trail of unanswered questions. But the law enforcement source, who asked not to be identified, said the finding has complicated authorities’ efforts to determine whether Wells plotted the robbery or whether, as he told police before the bomb detonated, he was forced to wear the device and rob a PNC bank.Meanwhile, federal investigators released photographs of the metal collar used to lock the explosives around Wells’ neck. FBI Agent Bob Rudge said the device was “made uniquely for the incident at hand.”

Investigators believe the collar and a locking mechanism may have been made in a machine or metal shop. One official said that similar locking-collar devices have been used by foreign terrorists.

The odd sequence of events that led to Wells’ death began when he entered the PNC bank Thursday with a lengthy, handwritten note. Part of it demanded cash; another part included instructions for the robber, authorities said. Agents are analyzing the note to try to determine whether Wells wrote it.

While Wells was in the bank, several people there called 911. Wells was surrounded by authorities moments after he left the bank. Wells told state police and FBI agents that a bomb was strapped to his body and that he had been ordered to rob the bank.

“He did not say who” ordered him, the source said. “He never said, ‘Joe Blow did this to me.’ He didn’t appear to be showing panic.”

As is routine in bomb scares, officials cleared the area around Wells and waited for a bomb squad to arrive. Shortly after Wells asked authorities why no one was helping him to remove the bomb, and before explosives specialists were on the scene, the bomb exploded, killing Wells.

The law enforcement official said that authorities are examining several theories about what might have happened in the Wells case. Among them: that Wells acted alone, that he was an unwilling figure in the robbery plot or that he was part of a conspiracy.

Investigators also have looked into the death Sunday of Robert Pinetti, a co-worker of Wells. A preliminary analysis found anti-depressants in Pinetti’s system.

Authorities said that Pinetti had a history of substance abuse and said that they had no evidence suggesting the deaths were related.