FULLERTON – He thought it would be simple.
Scare the people, get the money, get out and get high. But the day the 29-year-old meth addict attempted to rob a Fullerton bank, things didn’t go as planned.
Jacob Lee Williams was sitting in his aunt’s living room Oct. 14 chain-smoking Marlboro Red 100s and picking at the scabs on his arms, like many drug addicts do. He said he had been smoking methamphetamine for about four days and, while he usually panhandled for cash in time of need of booze or drugs, this time that wasn’t enough.
“I thought I would get more money if I robbed a bank,” Williams said from behind a glass barricade in a dingy orange jail-issued jumpsuit Saturday morning. “I wasn’t thinking at all. The drugs had a hold on me.”
Williams didn’t contemplate all the consequences or factor in the others he may face during the crime.
Herb Pearce, 49 of Garden Grove, started his Monday morning just like any other Monday morning. He got in his car and drove around the county preparing estimates for termite services. He strolled into the same Chase bank on Orangethorpe Avenue he always does, to cash a check, like he always does. But this time wasn’t like it always was.
“I was standing there and this scraggly looking monstrosity walks in, or some scraggly looking tweaker, I should say, and he’s got a plastic bag over his right hand,” Pearce said Friday. “He said ‘Hey, everybody, this is a stick up. I want all your money right now.’”
‘Where’s your piece’
Williams said he found a grocery bag in a nearby trash can and planned the ruse on the way into the bank, but Pearce didn’t fall for it.
The grocery bag was slightly transparent, and Pearce said he didn’t think there was a gun, or, as he calls it, a “piece”, underneath.
“I looked at him and said, ‘Dude, where’s your piece?’ ” Pearce said.
Williams said he began to feel the comedown of the drugs when he realized it wasn’t going as planned. Pearce said Williams lunged his bag-covered hand toward him as if he had a gun, and that’s when Pearce made his move.
“I took a couple steps and he came at me,” Pearce said. “So I smacked him, boom!”
Peace said he hit Williams three times before Williams fell to the ground, and then continued to hit him for about five minutes until the police arrived.
“This guy had a head like a brick, man. I tried to hold him on the ground and I told him ‘Dude, you better stay there, you’re going to get hurt. You better stay there, dude,’ ” Pearce said. “I was about ready to kick him in the face to put him out. Fortunately, the police showed up when they did.”
Police detained Williams, but not before Pearce fractured his hand in three places beating him.
“He wasn’t strong, but he was a little squirrely, wired guy,” Pearce said.
Williams was taken to the hospital, but his head was not seriously injured, so officers took him to a place Williams has called home many times before: county jail.
His rap sheet contains numerous offenses, including drug possession, resisting a police officer, and first- and second-degree burglary. Williams said he has stolen at least 100 times to get money for drugs and alcohol.
“I think I’ll always do drugs; I’ll always have the habit,” Williams said.
It’s in jail where he gets medication for his schizophrenia, something he said his family never helped him treat at home. He said he doesn’t have many friends in jail or on the streets. The only friends he mentioned were the ones who pressured him into first smoking marijuana, then doing other drugs like acid and meth. Because of his drug addiction, he dropped out of high school, but later got his GED.
“I’m a nice guy, and I’m sorry for what I did,” Williams said. “It won’t happen again … well, maybe not.”
Also an addict
Pearce said he empathizes with Williams, because he, too, was once a drug addict.
“I am clean and sober eight years now, and I kind of know what it’s like to want to get high,” he said. “I hope he gets the help he needs.”
Pearce may not get the help he needs to pay for the medical bills he is incurring for his hand injuries. He said the bank’s insurance company denied financial responsibility for his injuries but may reconsider due to the circumstances.
“I can’t believe it, they said I’ll have to wait to see what the bank wants to do,” Pearce said. “What am I supposed to do? I have to go back to (the) orthopedic surgeon, and it’s going to take four to six weeks to heal.”
Pearce said he hopes the bank will pay for the injuries since they were sustained while he stopped a robbery. Had he not confronted Williams, he wouldn’t have medical bills to worry about in the first place, he said.
“That day was the wrong day to go there … for the other dude, anyways,” Pearce said with a laugh.
“Well maybe for me, too. Now I got to deal with this,” he said looking down at his splinted arm.
By ALYSSA DURANTY / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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