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Agent: Police did their best for man wearing bomb

Deliveryman died while waiting for explosives experts to arrive

Brian Douglas Wells sits handcuffed shortly before the explosion killed him.
Brian Douglas Wells sits handcuffed shortly before the explosion killed him.

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An FBI agent says there was little that police could have done to save a man who was killed by a bomb after a Pennsylvania bank robbery. CNN's Mike Brooks reports (September 2)
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The scene as a pizza deliveryman tells police he had been forced to rob a bank by a man who put a bomb around his neck. The bomb later exploded and killed him.
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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

(CNN) -- An FBI agent says there was little that police in Erie, Pennsylvania, could have done to save a man who said he was forced to rob a bank by someone who strapped explosives to his body.

Brian Douglas Wells, 46, was killed Thursday when the bomb attached to his neck detonated while he and police were waiting for the bomb squad to arrive.

Police probably could not have saved Wells from the bomb if it was armed with a timing device, FBI special agent Ken McCabe, whose agency is helping in the investigation, said.

He noted the bomb was wrapped around the man's neck, which he described as "the most dangerous type of bomb" for bomb technicians because they have to physically defuse it.

In this case, he said, police acted appropriately.

"As soon as they confirmed that he in fact had a bomb on him, they backed off, did a perimeter of at least 300 yards around him. They protected innocent lives," McCabe said. "Police and agents are not trained to go and defuse a bomb. It's not like TV shows where we go up and try to guess, 'Do we cut the red wire or the green wire?' It's too dangerous."

According to his boss at the restaurant where he worked, Wells had gone to a remote area Thursday to deliver a pizza. An hour later, Wells showed up at the bank wearing the bomb and carrying a detailed note.

"It gave instructions to the bank employees on what they were supposed to do, and the bank employees complied with that," McCabe said.

"That note also contained instructions for what Mr. Wells was supposed to do. And he was in the process of following those instructions when the Pennsylvania State Police stopped him and placed him under arrest."

As he sat on the ground, Wells said, "Why is nobody trying to get this thing off me?" and "I don't have a lot of time."

Wells also described someone arming the device and strapping it to him.

"He pulled a key out and started a timer. I heard the thing ticking when he did it. It's going to go off. I'm not lying."

Minutes later, the explosives detonated.

Evidence has been removed from Wells' home, according to a source close to the case. Although the source wouldn't elaborate on what was taken, authorities have said they would be looking for handwriting samples to compare to the note Wells gave to the bank teller, and for possible bomb-making components.

Authorities in Erie, Pennsylvania, plan to hold a news conference Tuesday.

Meanwhile, investigators are looking into the death of a 43-year-old co-worker of Wells whose body was found Sunday in his parents' home. Police had sent in a bomb team when called to the home because of the connection, but authorities said nothing suspicious was found. Police believe the proximity of the deaths was a coincidence.

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