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Bank robbery suspect arrested in California

The suit-wearing man who claimed to be a federal agent when he robbed the M&T Bank downtown last month was apprehended in San Francisco last week after committing another bank robbery in a similar style there, The Buffalo News has learned.

Christopher B. Reynolds, 51, was just released in July from federal prison after serving 10 years on another bank robbery charge.

Reynolds, whose exact address is unknown, was briefly staying with an acquaintance in Western New York when he allegedly committed the Oct. 10 bank robbery at M&T's main branch downtown, law enforcement authorities said.

Reynolds entered the bank about 2 p.m. that day and flashed a badge to a customer service attendant. He identified himself as a federal agent and asked to see a manager. Reynolds stayed at the bank about an hour and met with two bank managers during that time. He allegedly displayed a gun, claimed to have placed a bomb in the bank's lobby and demanded $100,000.

Shortly after the robbery in Buffalo, law enforcement authorities believe he fled west en route to San Francisco.

Then, about 11 a.m., Nov. 6, Reynolds resurfaced again, wearing a suit, at the Wells Fargo Bank on Union Street in San Francisco. According to a report Wednesday in the San Francisco Chronicle, Reynolds used a badge and identified himself as an agent with the Department of Justice and asked to speak to a bank manager privately.

He claimed to have set an explosive device in the bank and produced a gun. He apologized to the bank manager and fled with more than $9,000. He was apprehended minutes later after police tracked down a taxicab in which he fled. Reynolds later admitted to authorities in California, he committed robbery there to "survive and gamble," the Chronicle report said.

FBI agents in Buffalo were still communicating with their counterparts in California. They wouldn't confirm late Wednesday Reynolds' apparent link to the Buffalo heist.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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