Man noticed suspicious character, called policeAstorian John Samp received an award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation at Monday's Astoria City Council meeting for his important role in helping police capture a man who robbed the Astoria branch of Wells Fargo Bank on July 29, 2003.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent John V. Bignkowski presented a certificate for Exceptional Public Service to Samp, co-owner of Erickson Floral, praising him for his help. Samp's young son, Will, stood smiling proudly at his father's side during the presentation.

Before he even knew the bank had been robbed, Samp said he noticed a man who looked out of character walk slowly through the alley that runs from Commercial Street to Duane Street between his floral business and Paramount Drugs.

"It was a hot summer day and he was wearing a dark business suit, tennis shoes and a baseball cap and carrying a manilla envelope," Samp said. He noticed a car parked in the crosswalk with a driver in it and saw the man get into the car and say, "Go, go, go."

"In my mind, the radar was going," Samp said. He jotted down the car's description and license plate number, and after a brief discussion with his employees, he phoned the Astoria Dispatch non-emergency number. He said he was shocked when he was told about the bank robbery that had just happened less than a block away.

As a result of his help, Clatsop County Sheriff's deputy Barbara Odom stopped the suspect as he headed east on U.S. Highway 30. The other suspect was apprehended later.

Samp had been honored earlier by the city of Astoria. That ceremony was private because at the time, the second suspect was still at large, said Astoria Police Chief Rob Deu Pree.


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