Courtesy of The Virginia Citizen’s Defense League:
The event that VCDL Board member Dennis O’Connor describes below happened in a SunTrust branch a couple of days ago.
SunTrust does not ban their law-abiding customers from legally carrying a firearm for self defense.
Had this been a Wachovia or a BB&T, both of which ban guns, the outcome would probably have been very different.
This event also underlines something that both Dennis and I believe – open carry, in and of itself, can be a strong deterrent to crime. Yes, I know – the criminal COULD do a preemptive strike against someone he sees carrying openly. But in practice such an event is extremely rare. The outcome described below is the usual case.
In analyzing the encounter, the only thing I can flaw Dennis with is not being aware of the significance of what has happening around him. But I have a law enforcement background and was trained to be on the lookout for certain behaviors and do so automatically.
The tellers at the bank, who are probably trained in how to handle a robbery, certainly knew what had just happened!
The other lesson is that crime almost always happens when you least expect it. In this case Dennis was busy getting some deposits taken care of and was focused on that task, something he has done for years routinely without a hitch. So when something unusual happened, his mind was a little slow switching gears.
Looking at it from a criminal’s point of view, it was the perfect time for a holdup – the bank had just opened and there were few customers. (You can imagine that it would be much more difficult to rob a bank with, say, thirty people inside.)
In the end, this worked out as it usually does when a criminal finds himself face-to-face with an armed citizen – the criminal flees without a shot being fired.
In this more unusual case, Dennis’s gun wasn’t even touched or brandished!
On Tuesday the 26th of December I went down to the Sun Trust bank in
Hopewell to complete some financial transactions. I got there just as they
were opening and entered with a woman who had been waiting outside. There
were three tellers in position to the left, one customer service associate
at a desk to the right, and the manager was seated in his office to the
rear right, so there were seven of us in the bank.
I have been banking there for years and know the tellers fairly well, who
are quite used to me walking in with my holstered 1911 government model
.45 and two reserve magazines. As I was transacting business with my
teller, a man came in through the front door on this warm December morning
wearing a full ski mask, with only his eyes showing. He was wringing his
hands and glanced furtively toward the office and then swept his eyes
across the room, finally towards me and the tellers. At that, he turned
and BOLTED back out the door!
The teller next to my position was the first to recognize the implications
of what had just happened, and yelled for the manager who came rushing out
from his office. He glanced toward me before sticking his head out the
front door, looking both ways down the sidewalk, and pronouncing that the
suspicious character had apparently left the area. The same teller then
expressed her relief that I had been there, and mentioned that the next Sun
Trust down on Route 10 (Iron Bridge Road) had just been robbed the week
I regret to say that I was pretty oblivious to anything but the business I
was immediately conducting, and walked out thinking no more about it as a
non-incident at the time. In fact, even later that evening I only
mentioned it as a casual after-thought in a conversation with Philip. He
urged me to write up this account of what had transpired, and I will leave
it to him to dissect and analyze the facts, psychologies, probabilities and
possible alternative outcomes.
I went by the bank again today to make a deposit – same three tellers on
duty. I asked them if the police were called over the ski-masked intruder.
They said no, but they had all discussed the incident yesterday afternoon
and agreed that it was me standing there with a gun at Sharon’s window
(first one from the door) that spooked him into changing his plans, and
they all thanked me again (although I didn’t DO anything).