EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 18, 2014

Police: Woman wrestles knife from robber

She took weapon when he showed it in customer line, officers say

LAWRENCE — A woman who was a customer at the Santander Bank at 296 Essex St. fought off a man with a knife who tried to rob her yesterday, police said.

The woman grabbed a 12-inch double-edged knife which the man used to threatened her, police said.

She then tossed the knife over the teller window, according to a report filed by Detective David Augusta. The suspect got away from the bank, but Officer Jeffrey Sapienza, acting on information provided by fellow Officer Timothy Rivet, arrested him at an apartment building 362 Essex St.

Stephen Callahan, 55, of 362 Essex St., apartment 309, is charged with two counts of armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of heroin. He was held pending his arraignment in Lawrence District Court this morning.

In the incident that happened shortly before noon, Callahan entered the bank and stood in line while the woman he would soon attack was doing her transaction at the teller window, according to a police report. Callahan rushed at the woman and grabbed her bag, but she resisted, the report said.

When Callahan took out the knife and waved it at the woman, she managed to get it away from him and threw it over the teller window, according to the report. She continued to struggle with Callahan over her bag and took it from him, the report said.

Callahan then proceeded to take money from a teller, and a bank employee came out of his office and intervened, police said. During his struggle with that man, Callahan fell to the floor and suffered a cut to his forehead, according to the police report.

A bank manager told the employee three times to let the suspect go because it is against the bank’s policy to “detain or get involved with such a situation,” the report said. So the employee released Callahan and he fled through a back door.

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