A Brookline man who identified himself to a witness as a Saudi national appeared by video in federal court Friday on a charge of robbing a Dormont bank of $20,000 this week after threatening to kill people.
Ahmed Ali Asiri, 26, stands accused of robbing a Dollar Bank on Wednesday after police and the FBI said he passed a demand note to a teller and then left with cash that law officers later found in his possession.
According to an FBI affidavit, Asiri entered the bank on West Liberty Avenue late Wednesday afternoon, sat in a chair for 15 minutes and then approached the teller station wearing a surgical mask. Agents said he handed the teller a note saying, “This is a robbery. Give me twenty thousand dollars. You have two minutes or people will die.”
He did not show a weapon.
The teller gave him two stacks of money, which Asiri put into his backpack and then walked out onto Kelton Avenue, the FBI said. A witness saw him open his car door, then close it and walk back to the bank and try to get in. But the tellers had secured the building. Asiri then walked back down Kelton and drove away, according to the affidavit.
That night, a witness called Dormont police to say he or she was “contacted by a Saudi national by the name of Ahmed Asiri” earlier in the evening, who said he needed help.
The two met at an Oakland coffee shop and got into Asiri’s car. Asiri then handed the witness the handwritten demand note that he used to rob the bank, according to the affidavit, as well as a large amount of cash banded together.
The witness said he would not help Asiri and instead called police. The witness told officers that Asiri lives in an apartment on Brookline Boulevard and that he planned to flee the Pittsburgh area by Thursday morning.
Police went to the apartment that night and saw the getaway car parked outside. They then got a search warrant from a judge and executed it a little after 2 a.m., taking Asiri into custody.
The search turned up $20,000 in $100 bills, a notebook with four handwritten notes similar to the robbery note, a backpack, a marker and other evidence. Inside the car, agents and police found clothing matching the clothes the suspect wore in the robbery as well as the actual demand note given to the teller.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Lenihan ordered Asiri to be held in U.S. custody pending a detention hearing next Friday.