A 71-year-old bank-robbing suspect prefers being in prison to living on the outside, according to police.
Peter Barry Lawrence was arrested within minutes -- rolling down the street in his unmotorized wheelchair -- after he allegedly robbed a Chase bank near the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue with a BB game.
Officials said Lawrence has served time before in federal prison. He will be prosecuted by state law enforcement, though, for his latest alleged crime. It would be his third strike, and if convicted, he could face a sentence of 25 years to life, authorities said.
Police said the bank robbery was reported at 10:31 a.m. on Monday morning and that Lawrence was arrested four minutes later. Investigators said that during the arrest, Lawrence did do some talking.
"He did indicate to investigators during his statement yesterday -- when he was taking full responsibility for the robbery and confessing to it -- he was also stating it was better for him to be in prison than out," Brown said. "He didn't necessarily make specific references to health care, just that the environment -- he preferred to be inside."
Jesse Braisher said he knew of Lawrence before his arrest and said that both of them ate at homeless shelters, even though they both have downtown apartments.
"I can see where he's coming from, because I was in prison myself," Braisher said on Tuesday. "In prison, you do get three meals a day and you get a bed, medication taken care of and everything. "
However, Braisher said that Lawrence may end up getting more than he bargained for.
"Once I got out, I swear I'd never go back, because I know what it's like being in prison," Braisher said. "Once he's been there a while, he won't do it again, I'll bet you."
Lawrence is due in court Wednesday. He faces a charge of second-degree commercial robbery.