A Robotic Mouth Check
A robot was used to check the mouth of Jeffry Leon Lewis Jr. after the Army sergeant presented a note at a Tucson bank saying he had a bomb in his mouth. Lewis was handcuffed to to a fence during the procedure. No explosive device was found.

David L. Teibel and Heidi Rowley, Tucson Citizen, via BoingBoing, reports:

TUCSON - An Army sergeant based at Fort Huachuca walked into a bank Monday, his mouth covered in duct tape, and presented a note saying he had a bomb in his mouth, police said.

Sgt. Jeffry Leon Lewis Jr., 33, was arrested after the 9:30 a.m. incident at a Wells Fargo bank branch in Tucson. Police found no explosives in his mouth, backpack, vehicle or on the grounds around the bank, Tucson police Sgt. Mark Robinson said.

As the drama unfolded, Claudia Martinez, 35, were sitting in the next-door McDonald’s with her husband.

Police rushed in and ordered them to leave.

“They were saying this man was very mad, he had a bomb in his mouth,” Claudia said. “When they said it was a bomb threat I got goose bumps all over.”

Robinson said the man walked into the bank and gave a bank employee a note announcing the robbery.

The bank called police and officers ordered people to leave the bank.

Two women became confused and headed back into the bank, Robinson said.

The two officers followed the women, stopped them from going inside and spotted the suspect, Robinson said.

The officers “rushed the suspect,” took him into custody, walked him to a metal rail fence away from other people, handcuffed him to one of the rails and backed away. They recognized him by the tape on his mouth, Robinson said.

“It was very brave (of the officers) to separate him from the public,” he said. “They really were faced with a situation that they had to take immediate action on and they made the choice to put themselves in harm’s way.”

A bomb squad robot removed the tape. Robinson said once the tape was taken off, Lewis spat out an unidentified object, which was not an explosive device.

Lewis has admitted that the bomb threat was hoax, Officer Dallas Wilson said. He also admitted to a Jan. 22 robbery attempt at the same bank, police said.

Eric Hortin, deputy public affairs officer at Fort Huachuca, said Lewis had been stationed there for two years. Lewis entered the service on Oct. 1, 2001. Hortin said he is an electronics repair specialist and has not been deployed since arriving at Fort Huachuca. He did not know about any previous deployments.

“Truly it’s always difficult when a soldier is in this situation,” Hortin said. “This kind of news hits everybody in the command hard.”

He said the Army is not taking any action concerning Lewis, as the incident happened in the jurisdiction of Tucson police.

Robinson said he did not know why the man launched the bizarre robbery, whether he got into the bank’s vault, whether he got any money or, if so, how much and whether it was recovered.