WINTHROP — A Baptist missionary with a football background made a key tackle Thursday afternoon, helping police apprehend a suspect in a foiled Manchester bank robbery.

Trooper Dane Wing saw a young man who had a mask and confronted him in the parking lot before the man entered The Bank of Maine branch at U.S. Route 202 and Pond Road, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The suspect then fled west along U.S. Route 202 in a red 2005 Chevrolet Blazer, leading police on a high-speed chase, which ended on Main Street in Winthrop after the SUV struck a tow truck and a UPS truck there, said Maine State Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance. The Blader driver — identified by state police as Glen Harrington, 28, of Fairfield — then fled on foot.

Perkins-Vance said Harrington’s vehicle hit a purple Ford wrecker — “Barney” — driven by Alfred Parks Sr., 61, of Winthrop, and bounced off it and hit a UPS truck driven by John Linnell, 42, of Auburn. Linnell suffered a minor injury that was not life-threatening, Perkins-Vance said.

Harrington had not been booked at the Kennebec County jail by 5:30 p.m. Thursday. He had been convicted of robbing an Irving Mainway store in Norridgewock in August 2009.

In that case, police said Harrington walked into the convenience store with a shirt over his head and went right to the cash register, telling the cashier to give him the money. He fled with the money in his hand.

The most dramatic scenes Thursday occurred in Winthrop in front of business owners and noontime diners at Pete’s Roast Beef, where heads turned at the sound of squealing tires.

“Within 30 seconds, we saw the vehicle smash into the back of a UPS truck,” said Amber Hinkley, of Winthrop, who was eating lunch there with friends.

“He stopped, opened the door, and evaded police and ran toward the Winthrop Health Center. By the time he got there, he had been taken down.”

Jack Simpson, 19, of Memphis, Tenn., saw the man running down the sidewalk being chased by police.

“Somebody yelled out, ‘Get him,’ so I tackled him so the cops wouldn’t have to keep chasing him,” Simpson said. “I played football for my high school, so I pretty much knew how to take him down.”

Simpson is in Winthrop as a summer missionary with the Maine Baptist Association, through the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

“Our supervisor told us that Maine was one of the safest states in America,” he said. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

He bruised his face, he said, when he ran into a car mirror.

Laurie Tompkins, owner of Becky’s Second Time Around, saw the police chase and ran next door to Pete’s Roast Beef to warn a mother to get her three children out of the car that was parked in front of the store.

The crash occurred within seconds of the children being brought into the store, Tompkins said.
Tompkins herself had to duck into an alcove to get out of the way of the fleeing man. “I thought he was going to run into me,” she said.

She praised Simpson’s actions.

“I saw him tackle this man and throw him to the ground and wrestle with him until the state cops got there,” Tompkins said. “He is really a hero, as far as I’m concerned. We’re really fortunate no one was hurt or killed.”

Parks’ son, Mike Parks, 34, of Readfield, whose garage, Parks Performance, is downtown, said he helped halt the robber as well.

“The kid was running, and I ran across the street and gave him a shoulder stuff right into a white Toyota truck,” Parks said. 

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]