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Robbery suspect caught after getaway car is caught in school traffic

North Attleborough Police Department/rmooney

A man who allegedly robbed a North Attleborough bank with a powerful handgun was captured within 10 minutes after his getaway driver first got caught in traffic at an elementary school and then decided to stop at a Dunkin’ Donuts 1,500 feet from the bank.

Christopher Castillo allegedly walked into the Bristol County Savings Bank around 3 p.m. Monday, about 15 minutes before dismissal time at the neighboring Falls Elementary School.

Castillo allegedly pulled out a .44 caliber revolver — the pistol Clint Eastwood used in the “Dirty Harry” movies — and demanded cash from a teller, who handed over ten $100 bills, according to Captain Joseph P. DiRenzo of the North Attleborough Police Department.

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The suspect also pointedly told the teller that he would shoot any responding police officers in the face with the large, black pistol, DiRenzo said.

Bank robbery suspect Christopher Castillo (left) and his alleged getaway driver, Shelby Simpson.
Bank robbery suspect Christopher Castillo (left) and his alleged getaway driver, Shelby Simpson. North Attleborough Police

After the robbery, Castillo ran to the right of the bank but allegedly looped back to the Mason Park lot where Shelby Simpson, accused of being the getaway driver, was waiting — along with parents idling in their cars just before school got out.

“I think that helped us, to be honest — the traffic at the school,’’ DiRenzo said.

Bank employees described the robber as a man with earrings, sunglasses, and a black knit cap; that matched the person Officer Benjamin Grasso saw in a car weaving through traffic at Mason Park, DiRenzo said.

Grasso told other officers about the car at the moment that DiRenzo was driving past a Dunkin’ Donuts on Elm Street, about three-tenths of a mile from the bank.

The captain pulled into the parking lot, went toward the car, and saw Castillo as he allegedly tried to stuff a hat and gun under the front seat.

“It was a little scary to see,’’ DiRenzo said of the pistol. He said all of the officers had been told about the robber’s vow to shoot any officer who approached him.

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“So I grabbed his hand to get him to come out, and that’s when he started resisting. He wouldn’t go to the ground,” the captain said.

With the help of Grasso — and after an intense struggle — police took Castillo into custody, DiRenzo said. Once inside the cruiser, Castillo repeatedly banged his head against the divider despite efforts to stop him, he said.

DiRenzo said the pistol was on the floor of the car, and that Castillo was carrying ten $100 bills.

Neither Castillo nor Simpson explained why they chose to stop at a Dunkin’ so close to the bank. Police cruisers with lights flashing were visible to the doughnut shop’s patrons.

“I am not sure why they stopped there. It wasn’t far at all,’’ DiRenzo said. “They didn’t answer that question.’’

Simpson was charged with being an accessory after the fact. She pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance in Attleboro District Court, DiRenzo said. Prosecutors had requested $25,000 bail.

Castillo faces charges of armed robbery, assault and battery on a police officer, and illegal possession of a firearm, among others, DiRenzo said. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and bail was set at $100,000 cash.

“I can’t tell you how proud Chief [John] Reilly and I are of the quick response and bravery of these officers that were involved,’’ DiRenzo wrote in an e-mail. “Their quick thinking, alertness, and professionalism lead to [an] arrest of a very dangerous individual.’’

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John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.