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PIZZA BOMBER Bank Robbery Getting Big Screen Treatment

Movie by Joey Paur

This might sound like the Ruben Fleischer-directed comedy 30 Minutes Or Less, but this true story about a pizza delivery guy that had a bomb strapped to him and forced to rob a bank is the real crazy deal. The FBI called the case Collarbomb.

The movie is based on a book detailing the event called Pizza Bomber: The Untold Story of America’s Most Shocking Bank Robbery, written by former FBI Special Agent Gerald Clark and journo Ed Palattella. The rights to the book were acquired by Mythology Entertainment and Anyway Entertainment. They also secured life rights to several of the participants involved in the case, and as of right now it will be called Collar Bomb Heist. 

The event took place on August 28th, 2003, in the suburbs of Erie, Pennsylvania. A pizza delivery man named Brian Wells received a call to deliver two pizzas to an address a few miles from the pizzeria. It was at this address that several men apprehended him and locked a time bomb around his neck. They then ordered him to rob a bank. After delivering them the money, he would receive clues to help him disarm the bomb. After he was apprehended by the police for robbing a bank, the bomb exploded. The bizarre affair was subject to much attention in the mass media.

While investigating the crime after Wells' death, the FBI discovered that Wells was not, in fact, an innocent victim. He was merely the first co-conspirator to fall in a bizarre trail of death following the crime.

When I saw 30 Minutes or Less, I had no idea it was based around this event. I'm not sure how I missed all of this, but it kind of makes the movie a little bit more morbid, because this tragic event was turned into a comedy.

Do you think this will make for a good film? Do you remember when this happened?  

Here's a detailed breakdown of what happened:

Wells had dropped out of high school in 1973. For nearly 30 years, he had worked as a pizza delivery man and was considered a valued and trusted employee of the Mama Mia Pizzeria in Erie, Pennsylvania. On the afternoon of August 28, 2003, Wells received a call to deliver two pizzas to an address a few miles from the pizzeria. It was later found that the address was that of WSEE-TV's transmission tower at the end of a dirt road.

According to law enforcement reports, Wells was meeting people he thought were his accomplices, including Barnes. Wells participated in the planning for the robbery; he had been told the bomb was going to be fake and he was to claim that three black men forced the bomb on him and he was to tell police he was a hostage.

At the television tower, Wells, for the first time, learned that the device was real. He wrestled with the men (presumably Barnes and William A. Rothstein) and tried to flee, but one of them fired a gun, causing Wells to stop. It was at this time that the collar bomb must have been attached. They gave him a sophisticated homemade shotgun, which looked like an oddly shaped cane, and told him to use it if he found trouble at the bank. Wells then entered a bank with the shotgun and demanded $250,000. When police intervened, Wells claimed that three unnamed people had placed a bomb around his neck, provided him with the shotgun, and told him that he had to commit the robbery and several other tasks, otherwise he would be killed.

At first, the police made no attempt to disarm the device. The bomb squad was finally called at 3:04 PM, at least 30 minutes after the first 9-1-1 call. At 3:18 PM, the bomb detonated, blasting a fist-sized hole in Wells' chest just three minutes before the bomb squad arrived. It is now believed that Wells was killed by Diehl-Armstrong and her conspirators to reduce witnesses against herself and others. The event was also broadcast on television and subsequently the footage found its way to video sharing sites.

A note found on Wells had instructions for him to carry out four tasks—the first of which was the bank robbery—in a set period of time before the bomb went off. Wells would gain extra time with the completion of each task. However, it was later determined that regardless of what had unfolded, Wells would never have had enough time to complete the tasks to get the bomb defused.

Wells was drawn into the plot through Barnes, whom he knew through Diehl-Armstrong, a prostitute who often used Barnes' home as a place to have sex with customers. The plot was hatched to get funds to pay Barnes enough money to kill Diehl-Armstrong's father, so Diehl-Armstrong could get an inheritance, authorities said. However, Wells had stolen only $8,702, far from the $125,000 needed for the killing. Furthermore, the inheritance Diehl-Armstrong coveted was largely spent.

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