You don’t work there anymore

About twice a month, I look across at my wife as she sits on the computer steaming about one thing or another related to the local television news industry. “You don’t work there anymore,” I say, patiently, but firmly enough to help her realize that, despite her 15 years in the business, it’s not her business anymore.

I fear I may have some of that coming my way very soon. If you’re not a longtime reader, you might not know I once worked the crime beat in town.

First, a bit of background.

Last week, I was sitting at a poker game when someone mentioned an armed robbery that took place outside of my fair city’s performing arts center. It sounded like something out of a Tom Clancy book. Men in camo jump out of an SUV with automatic weapons and confront a seemingly helpless group of people huddled under an awning. But, wait…one of these helpless people is not so helpless. She is a…wait for it…vacationing FBI agent. After the thugs collect a bunch of stuff from the people, they run back for their SUV, during which time the FBI agent pulls out a gun, draws down on the robbers, and pops off a shot. Days later, some passers-by in a county just south of here find a dead guy in a camo jacket. One day later, a guy from North Carolina turns himself into the cops. [The official version of the story is HERE]

It all sounds pretty exciting, huh? Common occurence in, say, a place like L.A., Chicago, or Miami. In Greenville, SC, however, this crime and the answers produced in the media leave a bit to be desired. Conspriacy theorists are already burning up the online forums and I hesitate to post anything more about the case because I have as little knowledge about this case as those folks. However, something just stinks here. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this is not your average, everyday robbery. Something just doesn’t add up.

The location of the crime is the first indication that something is odd. The Peace Center performing arts center and its satellite, Gunter Theater, are in the nicest business area in the Upstate. It’s home to the best restaurants, bars, and entertainment in the city. I spend a lot of time down there and have never felt at all unsafe walking from one end of Main Street to the other at 1am. Apart from the occasional bits of vandalism and car burglaries, crime just doesn’t happen down there. If it does, it’s caught on one of the many spy cams the city had installed a few years ago. But, 9:30 on a rainy Sunday night?

The players in the scene don’t make sense either. How does it happen that two random thugs come from out of state, wearing camouflage, carrying an Uzi, driving an SUV and commit what was apparently a single armed robbery? How do they pick the nicest area in the city to jack people? Is it just a wild coincidence that their victim was a FBI agent? (Incidentally, that’s the living robber on the left).

Now, how about the actions of the FBI agent? If you are an FBI agent hanging out with civilians and somebody gets the drop on you, at what point does your weapon come out? The reporting on this story leads us all to believe the agent got off a shot as the robbers were retreating. In what law enforcement manual does it say it is okay to fire a weapon after the most dangerous part of the crime is finished? What was so important about popping the guy at that very moment…as they were driving away?

Finally, the aftermath has been very odd. Because she is both a federal agent and a victim, we have learned exactly nothing about the FBI agent who apparently killed one of the robbers. The dead robber (at least, who is presumed to be the dead robber) turned up dead on nearly the same day the living robber showed up to turn himself in in Lexington, NC. Finally, collecting evidence in the SUV is going to be very, very difficult because it has already been crushed.


Yeah. It’s sitting like a pancake in a North Carolina salvage yard.

Granted, I’m a tad worked up over this. It may just be as they say: Two random thugs travel 160 miles in camo to the nicest business district in the Upstate and randomly decide to rob someone who just happens to be an FBI agent. The FBI agent, using every bit of training afforded to her at Quantico, decided to fire her weapon in the middle of downtown Greenville and into a car that is fleeing the scene and apparently not shooting back. After dumping the dead robber’s body in another county, the living robber ends up getting the getaway vehicle crushed. You know, all in a day’s work of Random Thug #1.

It’s a good damned thing I don’t work there anymore.

The PIO’s phone would never stop ringing. Even if it isn’t a big conspiracy, it’s still a huge story for the following reasons.

1) It happened outside the Peace Center and in the most important business district in our city
2) It happened to an FBI agent
3) It was an offiicer involved shooting/death
4) A federal agent operating off-duty apparently shot and killed a fleeing suspect

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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8 Responses

  1. Falstaff says:

    Something is totally fishy about that. If they wanted to knock over a few rich fuckers watching a play, Greensboro, NC is only 30 minutes from Lexington, and you have to drive THROUGH Charlotte to get to Greenville from Lexington, ad there’s certainly easy pickings downtown CLT on a weekend night.

    Somebody’s covering something up. To get there and pull that stunt, someone was specifically being targeted for something worth 4 hours of round-trip travel.

    But I’m a conspiracy nut, so there’s also that.

  2. Random101 says:

    This story has so many holes its silly.

    When the men (armed with Uzi’s and having fired one shot) were fleeing with $60, the vacationing FBI agent could either:

    A) Pull out her hand gun, shot at a moving vehicle, possibly receive return fire from automatic weapons with civilians near by and fill out tons of FBI paper work.
    B) Read the license plate. Call 911. Make a police statement. Continue on vacation.

    Option B looks good to me.

  3. RJ says:

    Holy crap, what a great story. Find out more.

  4. 2hands says:

    Any more info?

  5. cc says:

    From Lexington’s official website( “Lexington, North Carolina is known as the Barbecue Capital of the World.”

    That has to the the absolutely most ridiculous claim I’ve ever read in my entire life. Yeah, I’ve heard like tons of people in Memphis say, “You think these ribs are good. You should go to Lexington, North Carolina. That’s the BBQ capital of the world!”

    These two must be the product of too much inbreeding and thought that Kevin Costner was going to be in town or something.

  6. Drizztdj says:

    Any word on what the FBI agent’s specialty is?

    That would be decent information to have.

  7. Da Goddess says:

    What’s this about BBQ? (I’m so over the robbery) I want more BBQ info. Please.

    By the way, if you’re currently writing a new chapter to some spy book with such a scenario as laid out above, why the hell not? Don’t let Clancy grab it. Oh, who am I kidding? Clancy subcontracts all his writing anymore.

  1. July 29, 2008

    […] know that there were several of you who were interested in the case of the vacationing FBI agent who was robbed by a couple of out-of-state thugs.  Well, there is finally something that some folks will call […]

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