As long as there is money in the safe, banks will always be a target for criminals. But money was not on the mind of a gunman who entered a Jackson, Miss., branch of Trustmark Bank last week.

Instead, he demanded pizzas, 24 bags of marijuana, and an interview with the state attorney general.

Terrance Stamp allegedly held customers and bank employees hostage for almost eight hours before surrendering to the police. Mr. Stamp did not get to talk to Michael Moore, the attorney general, but he was given pizza when he released some hostages early on in the showdown.

Mr. Stamp later told police he had taken the hostages to raise awareness of the need for more programs for inner-city youth, according to a Jackson television report. The pizza, he said, was because he was hungry. No word on whether the drugs were requested for recreational or medicinal use.

Though no one was hurt, Gray Wiggers, a senior vice president at $6.5 billion-asset Trustmark, called the experience "traumatic."

"We give the law enforcement officials our highest praise for the work they did resolving the situation," he said.

Taking hostages in the name of a cause may seem like an odd way to get a message out, but it has a precedent in Mississippi. This year, another gunman held four women at a school in the town of Purvis, demanding that more black teachers be hired. That hostage-taker also asked to speak to Mr. Moore.

- Louis Whiteman


A bill that would shelter Iowa banks from some year-2000-related lawsuits has provoked the ire of 355,000 senior citizens.

The American Association of Retired Persons released a statement this week saying the group's Iowa members oppose the bankers' bill. Under the proposal, banks would be protected from customer lawsuits should the customer suffer from a year-2000-related computer error by a third party.

AARP argued that customers could permanently lose interest earned on savings accounts or certificates of deposit should banks be protected from third-party lawsuits.

Not true, according to John Sorensen, president of the Iowa Bankers Association. The bill would not relieve banks of their contractual obligations to customers, such as paying interest, even if a third party's computer system stumbles over the millennium change, he said.

Mr. Sorensen said AARP is part of a newly formed coalition-led by a group of trial lawyers-that is loudly opposing the bill. Still, he said, he is optimistic about the legislation, which the state Senate unanimously passed in March and which the House is to vote on this month.

"There are a lot of groups interested in this passing, too," he said.

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