Desperation nation

bank-robberWhen I get kidnapped, the first thing I think is, “Man, I could go for a taco.”

We’ll get back to that in a minute.

A few weeks back, Bruce Lee Windsor (seen in the photo to the left), a 43-year old church deacon, father of four, and business owner apparently walked into Greenville bank with the intention of walking out with salvation in the form of cash. He ended up holding a bunch of people hostage before realizing he was screwed in a variety of ways (none of them comfortable) and giving up to police. According to news reports, the man was among the last people you’d expect to do just a thing and apparently, “just snapped.”

From the Greenville News report.

Pastor Ralph Carter said after the hearing that Windsor is “one of the best fathers I know anywhere,” and that his role as deacon at Brushy Creek Baptist Church included visiting shut-ins.

He told the judge that Windsor’s behavior Thursday was “completely out of character,” and that he was “shocked” and “devastated” to to get a phone call about the robbery yesterday.

The sheer desperation of the alleged crime touched me. This is by all accounts a guy who has fallen so far into a private hole, he believes that only a ridiculous crime can save him. The story reminded me of a case out of New York–stock broker goes on a losing streak and eventually is so upside down, he starts living a double life as family man and serial bank robber (story HERE and some video of him in action below).

Bank robbers used to be fun. Paddy Mitchell and the Stopwatch Gang have fascinated me for years. They weren’t desperate. They were just crooks. There is something a little honorable about simply being a good thief who is just robbing banks because, as Willie Sutton said, “that’s where the money is.”

The more recent cases are just sad, dishonorable, and so blindly stupid, one has to think the alleged criminals stopped actually thinking a long time ago. In Japan, people in this situation just kill themselves. I’ve always thought that was sad, too, but for some reason I find the stark agony and desperation in these cases to be even more pointedly disturbing.

Think of it. These guys aren’t so desperate to recover that they just off themselves. No, these guys are out to commit a crime few people ever actually succeed in committing. They should have a real expectation of not only getting caught, but serving a long stretch in prison while their kids grow up. Even Paddy Mitchell went to prison, and for a long time. What makes a church deacon think he can pull off a bank robbery?

Answer: Desperation. He doesn’t believe he can do it. He just feels like it’s his only choice. Reason is absent.

I’ve been feeling very fortunate recently. I know several people who have lost their jobs. I know many more who live in constant fear that they will go into work on Friday and find they have been laid off. I don’t have the perfect situation, but my family and I are managing alright for the time being. I feel about as lucky as I should.

All of this brings me to last night when I turned on the news and saw that a local firefighter had just been kidnapped at the Wal-Mart up the street. Reports said the firefighter was forced to go a bank and withdraw money from his account. The victim told the police he was then made to drive around for a bit before the kidnapper let him stop…about two hundred yards from my friend’s house. Now, I couldn’t remember if my buddy was traveling. He didn’t answer his phone and I worried that his wife and two daughters might be alone in the middle of the manhunt. I hopped in the car and drove over.

That’s when things started to seem odd. In the ten minutes it took me to get there, the police scene had completely disappeared. The tracking dogs were gone, the police tape was down, and I didn’t see a single patrol car. Not one.

When I got back home, I told my wife that something was fishy. If the cops really believed The victim I didn’t think the scene would break so fast. What was more telling was the fact the firefighter somehow managed to text his girlfriend and then call 911 while the kidnapper was in the truck with him. Despite how I feel about the media’s abuse of 911 calls, this is a case where a good FOIA request could be very enlightening. Oh, and then there was the report the tracking dogs couldn’t get any scent at all.

Finally, a report that I haven’t seen on the news yet this morning, but one I am hearing through the grapevine. If this news happens to be true, the firefighter and his kidnapper…wait for it…stopped at Taco Casa for some grub somewhere along the way.

As I said before, when I get kidnapped, the first thing I think is, “Man, I could go for a taco.”

It’s pretty clear I’m not the only one thinking hoax this morning. Headlines are being couched in double attribution they-said-he-saids. If it turns out my suspicions here are true, then what? A man with an honorable job gets himself in such a spot that he has to create an elaborate hoax to justify pulling money out of a bank account (and then goes and gets a taco)?

I hope I’m wrong here, and if I am, I will issue a big mea culpa and personally apologize to the victim.

And then I am going for some damned tacos.

Photo courtesy

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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10 Responses

  1. Jay says:

    Now, if they’d stopped for some chicken at McBee’s, I might believe that.

  2. Uncle Ted says:

    I’d definitely be all over Carolina Drive-In. Nick would have a kidnapper’s special, just for me.

  3. Dr. Chako says:

    Wait until we find out that the reason they were both desperate was because they were tapped out on their Full Tilt accounts…


  4. Grecomo says:

    Is T alright???

  5. otis says:

    Heh. Yeah, T is, in fact, alright.

  6. G-Rob says:

    I beg to differ. T is no alright.

  7. Da Goddess says:

    I hope the firefighter takes you up on the offer, Otis. What a story that would be!

    I’m glad he’s okay, too. I mean, not every kidnapping ends so well.

  8. G-Rob says:

    I think it would be wise to hold back on the mea culpa there Otis. A guy’s been arrested, yes, but check and see what he’s charged with.

    You’ll find NO CHARGES related to kidnapping, robbery or anything else.

    I get the impression from some folks-in-the-know that this story is still totally bunk.

  9. The same things ran through my head. “seriously, taco casa and then dropped in off in a PUBLIC place?!?!?” *smacks forehead*

  1. March 27, 2009

    […] Desperation nation […]

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