NORTH ATTLEBORO — A homeless mother arrested for her alleged part in the robbery Monday of Bristol County Savings Bank in North Attleboro told police she was the hapless victim of a man she had just met on the Internet, not a partner in crime.
Police arrested Christopher Castillo, 30, of Chepachet, R.I., and Shelby Sampson, 40, after they were alerted shortly before 2:50 p.m. of the armed robbery of the bank at 96 Commonwealth Ave.
Castillo is charged with the actual robbery at gunpoint, and Sampson, who was driving a car when they were apprehended near Mason Field, was charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Attleboro District Court Judge Edmund Mathers ordered Castillo held on $100,000 bail Tuesday, but released Sampson on personal recognizance pending a pretrial hearing.
During the robbery, Castillo allegedly showed tellers a .44-caliber handgun and threatened to shoot cops if they called police.
He faces a bevy of charges, including armed robery, assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and possession of a firearm without a license.
According to court documents, Sampson told police she had just met Castillo through an online dating site and met him for the first time Monday at his parents home in Rhode Island. He accompanied her when she drove to North Attleboro to pick up her son after class at Falls Elementary School, near Bristol County Savings Bank.
The robbery was reported minutes before school was due to let out.
Sampson’s lawyer, Damian Puller, said Sampson did not realize anything was wrong until Castillo left the car where she parked across from the school building, then returned, breathless, with handfuls of cash and told her he had just “hit a bank” and to drive off.
“She had no idea what he was doing or where he had gone,” Puller said.
A police report regarding Sampson’s arrest said the mother was unable to supply a “plausible explanation” for the events surrounding the robbery, however.
According to court documents, a man wearing a black knit hat and sunglasses walked into the bank at 2:49 p.m., showed a gun to tellers and demanded $1,000, saying he was “in a bad way” and needed the cash.
He also warned bank employees not to call police or he would shoot the officers, police reported.
Video surveillance footage showed the man leaving the bank and walking in the direction of the school and Mason Field.
Police reported they followed a car driven by a woman into the parking lot of a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts after noticing a front seat passenger resembling the man described by the bank workers.
The woman fled the car when police ordered the man out of the vehicle.
According to police reports, Castillo refused to cooperate, threatened officers and had to be wrestled to the ground and forced into the back seat of a police car. Police reported recovering the handgun, a black knit hat and $1,000 in $100 bills from inside the car.
Police said Castillo’s erratic behavior continued at the police station, where he refused to enter the booking room and smashed his head into cement.
Sampson told police she met Castillo through a dating site and had just met him that day for the first time.
She said she was surprised to see Castillo carrying a gun when he was about to get in her car to pick up her son, and demanded that he get rid of it. She said he left the vehicle and later returned apparently unarmed.
Assistant Bristol County District Attorney Mary Elizabeth Mack said Castillo has a criminal record in four states, including “numerous” convictions for offenses ranging from larceny to domestic violence.
Mack initially requested he be held on $250,000 bail.
Police alleged the gun used in the robbery was taken from Castillo’s parents house in Rhode Island. The parents confirmed to police that the gun was missing, according to court documents.
Castillo’s case was continued to Jan. 4. Sampson is due back in court Feb. 2.