By J. PATRICK PEPPER
HEIGHTS — Police Chief Lee Gavin was the point man Nov. 27 in the arrest of two men for an alleged armed robbery at TCF Bank, 25488 Michigan, just a few hundred feet from the city’s police station.
Police say Detroiter Thomas Carey, 54, used a toy gun to steal $6,300 from the bank while Christopher Frierson, 46, of Farmington Hills, is accused of being the getaway driver. Both men are charged with bank robbery and armed robbery. Carey also is charged with resisting and obstructing a police officer.
On his way home from work, Gavin was pulling onto Michigan Avenue from the police station when he noticed a man with a duffle bag, later identified as Carey, running across the parking lot adjacent to the bank. Gavin radioed to dispatch, thinking that maybe a purse had been stolen, and made a turnaround to begin following Carey.
Carey, a career criminal with multiple bank robbery convictions, turned onto Orchard, where he entered a maroon 2006 Ford van with Frierson allegedly at the wheel. After following them for a short time in his unmarked car, Gavin received word from dispatch that a bank robbery had, in fact, just occurred and that backup was en route.
By that time, the chief said, the men realized they were being tailed, and a game of cat and mouse ensued. The van pulled over several times in an apparent attempt to see if Gavin would pass, but each time he just pulled over and waited.
When the suspects came face-to-face with a marked police car just over the Inkster border, the van stopped and Carey fled out the passenger door. He was arrested in a nearby back yard after a short pursuit, while Frierson was arrested without incident.
“This is my first bank robbery arrest in almost 30 years of being a police officer,” Gavin said, noting, “It just kind of presented itself.”