Originally created 11/05/99

Police thwart suspect's escape



Everything was going along as planned for a robber of a downtown finance company Thursday, except for one important detail: he forgot to look out the front door.

Parked at the curb outside, waiting to have lunch with his wife, was Richmond County Sheriff's Investigator Kenny Lynch.

The robber bolted out of Guarantee Finance and fled north on Reynolds Street, with the manager at his heels, brandishing his gun. Seeing the pair tear out of the store, Investigator Lynch immediately joined the chase. A road patrol deputy soon entered the hunt.

The impromptu procession continued to grow.

Adding to the chaos was a local television crew, intent on capturing the scene on film.

It all ended abruptly. Making a desperate dive at the window of a passing car, the robber tumbled into the street. The money stolen from Guarantee Finance cascaded into the air.

Paul James Gonzalez, 52, of West Palm Beach, Fla., was arrested behind a store in the 800 block of Broad Street and charged with robbery by intimidation, police said.

Investigator Lynch said a man walked into the finance company at 12:30 p.m., when there were no other customers, and asked the clerk for pen and paper. He began writing a note demanding money, but then stopped abruptly and blurted to the clerk that he was carrying a gun. The man told the clerk he would shoot her if she didn't give him money, but never showed her a weapon, Investigator Lynch said.

Police suspect Mr. Gonzalez was intoxicated. Deputies searched him, but never found a gun.

Reach Jessica Rinck at (706) 823-3225.