Sage Pacheco could tell something about the woman in hot-pink sweatpants and a “Go Army” baseball cap was a little out of the ordinary.
He was waiting for the bus about 2 p.m. Friday near Meeting and Hutson streets in downtown Charleston when he saw the woman cradling a bulge in her jacket.
The scene soon became clearer for Pacheco as sirens wailed and police officers swarmed the woman. On her, they found a sack of cash.
“She obviously had money in her jacket,” said Pacheco, 20, a College of Charleston student. “It was like she was pregnant. It was weighing her down so much.”
Delores Jean Baines, 50, whose address wasn’t known, had shuffled her feet about 200 yards from 317 Meeting St., where police said she had taken the cash from First Citizens Bank without permission.
Baines was arrested on a charge of entering a bank with the intent to steal. The felony count is reserved for nonviolent suspects regardless of whether they get away with cash or not, said Charles Francis, spokesman for the Charleston Police Department.
It is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
“She wasn’t armed with a weapon,” Francis said in a statement. “She didn’t make any threats. She didn’t imply that she was armed.”
Court records do not indicate that Baines has ever been charged with a crime in the tri-county area. She has been arrested in Florida on charges of fraud and making threats to the president, and has spent time in a federal prison, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Her alleged getaway attempt went off with little fanfare until about 10 police cruisers pulled up to her in front of the Embassy Suites on Meeting Street.
She had passed the runway tents set up in Marion Square for Charleston Fashion Week, and the event’s security guard. She had passed a homeless man strumming his guitar near a fountain.
When officers acting on a vivid description of the robbery suspect ordered her to stop and turn around, she did so. She was handcuffed.
Pacheco never budged from his spot as he sat on the concrete steps of the Second Presbyterian Church and waited for the bus. He listened to music and watched police halt traffic on Meeting Street and load the woman in pink pants into a patrol car.
Nearby, other officers crowded the bank parking lot and peered into trash bins in Marion Square in search of evidence. The homeless man played Bad Company’s “Shooting Star” on his guitar.
Tourists and joggers whispered, wondering aloud what had just occurred to merit the police presence. Pacheco knew.
“From here across the street, it looked like she just had a sack of $1’s,” he said. “I thought she had just been to a convenience store.”
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