Judge releases 77-year-old suspected bank robber from Palm Beach County Jail

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- - A 77-year-old man who's accused of robbing a PNC bank with a knife and then holding an employee hostage was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Thursday.

"I'll tell you all about it when I get going," said Russell Cooper as he was being pushed out of jail on a wheelchair.    

An affidavit shows police used Taser and then arrested Cooper after they said he walked into the PNC Bank on the 500 block of Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach and demanded money last week.

Unable to afford bond, a judge decided to release Cooper from jail after reviewing the surveillance footage of the incident. The judge felt the bank manager did not show any signs of fear or concern and said the manager could be seen smiling and smirking while the alleged crime was being committed.

"He would never intentionally rob a bank, that was not how it was meant to come across," said Debbie Fortney, identified by family as the stepdaughter of Cooper.

Fortney, who picked Cooper up, said the whole situation was a big misunderstanding.

"He's had some financial difficulties and it was not meant to be taken the way it was at all," said Fortney.

Johnny Redon, the stepson-in-law of Cooper, said the 77-year-old had been scammed a few times by fake, foreign lottery companies. He said Cooper was trying to get money to pay for car repairs but was told his bank accounts were closed.

"I was surprised to see he had been arrested," said Redon.

Cooper was charged with armed robbery and kidnapping. It will now be up to the state attorney's office to file formal charges against Cooper.    

"Again, just a terrible misunderstanding, terrible misunderstanding," said Fortney.

As part of his release, Cooper has to telephone the court at least once a week.

The state attorney's office has until June 2nd to file formal charges.


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