Police dog credited for capture of bank-robbery suspect

Affton man charged with robbing bank on Union Road

By Gloria Lloyd

Police are crediting their capture of a man suspected in a south county bank robbery to the police dog that took the man down.

As police from the St. Louis County Police Department’s South County Precinct searched for a man who allegedly robbed the U.S. Bank at 2041 Union Road in Lemay about 4:38 p.m. Wednesday, a police dog from a responding K-9 Unit tracked down the alleged suspect and bit him in the neck.

The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged John Lyons, 52, of the 10000 block of Marble Arch, 63123, with one count of first-degree robbery and one count of resisting arrest by fleeing. The Affton man is currently being held on a $100,000 cash-only bond.

Lyons, wearing a black shirt and camouflage hat, allegedly robbed the bank by threatening a teller that he had a bomb, then left a small, “unknown device” behind, police said. After he fled, the bank teller called 911.

“He says ‘I have a bomb,’ and as he’s making out with the money, he leaves the container behind,” said Sgt. Brian Schellman, a police spokesman.

The bank is at the intersection of Reavis Barracks and Union roads, between Interstate 55 and Bierbaum Elementary School. A police officer responding to the call was driving northbound on Interstate 55 when he noticed a man matching the robbery suspect’s description walking the fence line of the interstate south of Reavis Barracks.

When the police officer got out of his car, the man jumped the interstate fence and ran east, where he hid in heavy brush.

When the officer lost sight of the fleeing suspect, he notified surrounding officers of the sighting and a K-9 officer unleashed his police dog to track the man from the point he was last seen.

When the police dog found the alleged robber, the dog bit the man in the neck.

“The canine apprehends the suspect, and during the apprehension, bites the man in the neck,” Schellman said.

Officers called for an ambulance, and the Mehlville Fire Protection District responded to take the suspect to a hospital. Until the ambulance arrived, officers say they gave first aid to the man, and television helicopters captured video of the police officers holding fabric to the man’s neck to soak up blood.

Back at the U.S. Bank, the bomb and arson unit investigated and found the unknown device was not a bomb. Bank employees and customers were evacuated to the bank’s parking lot during the incident.

“There’s nothing to it. This was just something that he used to say it was an explosive situation,” Schellman said.