David Thompson loves the Second Amendment and talking, but hates attention and bank robberies.
Those four forces collided on Tuesday when a man wearing a Chucky mask and a Carhartt hoodie entered Peoples Bank & Trust in Troy, Mo., shortly before the bank closed and ordered a teller to put all the money in a bag. Thompson, the bank’s president who also has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, followed the man to his car, making sure to lock the branch’s door behind him.
“He didn’t know I was there. That’s when I knew I had the advantage,” Thompson says.
At the car, Thompson says the man motioned as if he was going to reach for a weapon, but Thompson’s gun was already drawn. “I told him he wasn’t going anywhere and that he needed to get out of the car.”
The banker’s tale made national headlines after being it was picked up by the Associated Press. It even landed on CNN – not an easy feat in a week overwhelmingly dominated by coverage of Hurricane Sandy’s path of destruction in the Northeast. As of Thursday afternoon, Thompson says he has done three television appearances, eight radio interviews with two more to go, and a handful of newspaper interviews.
“I thought my local newspaper might come out and interview me and that would be it,” he says. “Now, I’ve become a legend ...in my own mind.”
Meanwhile, Thompson says he has been overwhelmed with calls and emails from people he knows and other bankers.
Thompson doesn’t remember how forceful he was getting the man out of the car. Local press say authorities charged Donald Ray Lee with first-degree robbery on Wednesday.
Thompson says Lee is a customer who opened an account at the $409 million-asset bank in April after moving to the area. Thompson and Lee are both 58 years old, but the banker says that Lee moved slowly and didn’t appear to be in good health. “Maybe that was his reasoning for robbing the bank,” Thompson surmises.
“He was not a professional bank robber,” adds Thompson, who says he has a black belt in martial arts. The man took less than $5,000 from the bank.
The assailant’s sluggish reaction, mixed with Thompson’s intuition and firearms’ experience is what emboldened him to act. “I was pretty dead certain he wasn’t going to be a huge threat,” Thompson says.
Thompson, along with a loan officer who also has a concealed weapon permit, detained the robber until the police arrived.
Thompson, whose family is Peoples Bank’s largest shareholder, says he got a concealed weapons permit soon after it became allowed in Missouri in 2004 because he has received three calls from the Federal Bureau of Investigations during his banking career stating that he or his family were the targets of planned kidnappings meant to extort money from the bank.
Peoples Bank even has a sign on its front door welcoming people with permitted concealed weapons. Thompson says he got the idea from Chappell Hill Bank in Texas, which made international news last year for its version of the sign. Thompson, however, says his sign is less political than the one in Texas.
Thompson, who doubts that he violated any regulatory restrictions, says the police didn’t scold him for drawing his gun. He says the bank’s employees followed the emergency plan perfectly. While some might view him as a maverick, Thompson dismisses his actions as being radical.
“All the procedures were followed in the bank,” Thompson says.
“It was on me once I left the building,” he adds. “I was just an armed U.S. citizen making a citizen’s arrest until the police arrived. Maybe it wasn’t protocol, but welcome to Missouri.”