President of Troy, MO Bank nabs masked robber from St Louis Post Dispatch

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TROY, MO. • Maybe the bank robber couldn’t see very well through the holes in his mask — the face of Chucky from the “Child’s Play” horror movies — as he walked into Peoples Bank & Trust Tuesday afternoon.

After all, it says right on the door that concealed weapons are allowed in the bank. They’re practically encouraged by the sign: “Management recognizes the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as an unalienable right of all citizens.”

So when the robber walked out of the bank a short time later with a red bank bag full of cash, maybe he shouldn’t have been surprised that bank president David W. Thompson followed him out to the parking lot. Thompson watched the masked robber get in a Ford pickup parked in a handicapped spot up front, then pulled his Colt .380 handgun and pointed it at the man.

“Sir, get out of the truck,” Thompson, 58, recalled demanding. “You’re not going anywhere.”

And when the man put his hand in his jacket pocket, as if he had a weapon, Thompson scolded him again.

“You don’t want to go there,” Thompson said. “This will end badly.”

Fortunately the robber listened. It turned out the man had no weapon of his own. Thompson and another bank official who also carries his own weapon pulled the man from the truck and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

“I didn’t have time to get scared,” said Thompson, a life member of the National Rifle Association who supports concealed-carry laws. “I was excited. Your adrenaline pumps. He robbed a bank, he menaced my employees, and I don’t allow that.”


On Wednesday morning, authorities charged Donald Ray Lee, 58, of Lincoln County, with first-degree robbery in the bank heist. He was being held Wednesday in lieu of $50,000 cash-only bail.

Nabbing Lee made Thompson, who was born and reared in Lincoln County, the talk of the town. His office line rang nearly nonstop after news spread Wednesday morning. Co-workers thanked him. A customer who was vacationing in Singapore heard about it on the news and chimed in with congratulations. The local priest stopped by the bank to tell Thompson he did a good job.

At one point, Thompson opened an envelope marked inter-office mail. He laughed when he saw what an employee had put inside as a joke: a .38-caliber bullet and a message that it was a “donation to the cause.” Thompson put it in his drawer with the rest of his ammunition.

As Thompson sat behind his desk at the bank Wednesday and fielded questions from a reporter, one of his longtime friends and customers, Billy D. Phillips, stood in the doorway and struck a pose reminiscent of Dirty Harry. Phillips pointed his finger as if it were a gun and pulled the imaginary trigger. He smiled broadly and said he was proud of Thompson, who has been with the family-operated bank 36 years.

“That’s David,” said Phillips, 76. “I’ve known him his whole life. He’s quite a guy.”

Jerry Sage, executive director of the Kansas City-based Missouri Independent Banking Association, said there was no protocol for bankers regarding using a firearm, as Thompson did on Tuesday. Sage’s group represents more than 200 community banks throughout the state of Missouri, including Thompson’s bank. Thompson is past president of the association.

“We stress in our safety training that safety is the most important thing,” Sage said. “He took it outside the bank so no one was in jeopardy. If he pulls a gun and he has a permit, that would certainly be his call.

And, Sage added: “It was a gutsy call.”

Troy Police Chief Jeff Taylor also commended Thompson.

“He’s a very level-headed man,” the chief added. “It worked out really well.”

But while he doesn’t second-guess Thompson’s actions, Taylor said he generally advises that people don’t take matters into their own hands like that.

“In general, I would suggest they lock that door, get a good description of the robber and call police immediately,” Taylor said.

But that just wasn’t Thompson’s instinct during the robbery.


Lee walked into the bank about 2:40 p.m., according to police, a few minutes before the lobby was to close for the day. There were about 60 employees in the three-story building and a few customers in the bank, Thompson said.

He brushed past two bank employees who told him to take off the Halloween mask, Thompson said. The teller also told him he had to remove the mask, but according to Thompson, Lee said, “No, you gotta give me all your money.”

The tellers then saw the masked man put his hand in his coat pocket, indicating he had a gun.

Thompson credits his tellers for their handling of the situation.

“They did exactly what they were supposed to do,” he said. “They stayed calm and nobody caused a stink.”

Thompson, meanwhile, was in his office talking with a salesman about advertising when his receptionist buzzed him with an emergency. Thompson said he looked out his office door into the bank lobby and saw that his tellers looked fearful. And he saw a man wearing a heavy jacket and a ghoulish Halloween mask calmly walk away from the tellers, carrying one of the bank’s red money bags.

He didn’t hesitate. Thompson followed the man outside, and the bank door was locked behind him to keep his employees safe.

Thompson said he never worried he’d be hurt in a confrontation with the robber. Not only was Thompson armed, but he’s a black belt. The robber “was frail enough and slow-moving enough that I’d already ascertained I could physically handle him,” he said.

After drawing down on the robber and getting backup from the other bank worker, Thompson pulled the man from the truck and waited for police.

Police arrived quickly, forced the man to the ground and pulled the mask off his face, Thompson said. The officers opened the man’s wallet, and Thompson saw a debit card for Peoples Bank.

“That’s when I realized he was one of our customers,” Thompson said.

Thompson didn’t recognize the man, but one of his tellers later said she did. Turns out Lee had opened an account with the bank in April, Thompson said.

He had $4,779 in the bank bag, according to court documents. Lee told police he’d gone to the bank only to trick or treat.

Lee lives in the first block of Ruby Drive, near Cuivre River State Park, with his daughter and grandchildren. A neighbor, Hazel Schone, said Lee came from Oklahoma about a year ago to live with his family.

Schone said she thought that Lee might be suffering from dementia and that his relatives were talking about getting him tested for Alzheimer’s disease.

“He’d be nice one minute and mean the next,” Schone said. “Here lately, he had changed and was being nicer. He’d wave ‘Hi,’ I’d wave ‘Hi.’”

The Chucky Halloween mask, she said, belonged to Lee’s granddaughter, who is about 8 years old. The girl had been to Schone’s house a few days earlier to show off her costume.

Gun Law Planning – Gun Trusts

Today’s hot button is the acquistion of National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms.  These are silencers, machine guns, short-barreled rifles or short-barreled shotguns, destructive devices, “any other weapons” category regulated under federal and state law.  Use of an entity, such as a corporation, LLC, partnership or a trust simplifies the process by eliminating the requirement to seek Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) approval prior to making application to the ATF.  Such approval is denied in many if not a majority of U.S. jurisdictions..

Living Trusts are in high demand as perhaps the best, most flexible way to help gun owners acquire, use, share, and bequeath NFA firearms.  In fact, a gun trust can serve as a complete estate plan for ALL your firearms… if they are important to you.

Guns are are not like stock certificates, a bank account, or a parcel of land.  Gun ownership and/or transfer can expose an owner or a transferee such as an estate heir, fiduciary, or even a beneficiary to possible criminal exposure!  It is important to know the law and to not make new law with YOUR name on it!

A “real” gun trust should be more than a document; it should be a complete management system for client gun collections, one that can be designed for each need, within a budget, and that can grow with a collection or help distribute it as the case may be.  Your gun trust should be a roadmap for lawful enjoyment of firearms to help reduce the chance that you or your loved one might commit an “accidental” felony.

To help you in your planning, we have answered a few questions for you that we get asked all the time.  Let us know what you would like to hear more about and we’ll find an attorney to answer them for you…


SURE.  It’s America!

BUT THE QUESTION IS… SHOULD YOU?  I mean, what could happen…

Consider that gun law is pretty complex, and it is inconsistent.  Federal law provides the minimum requirements of gun law… and then each state adds to it.  Gun law varies from state to state… and sometimes within a state.  Trust law is also complex, and just printing out a document, even if it is “approved” for transfer of an NFA firearm, does not mean that the trust is valid or that you or a friend will not get jammed up.

Free trusts do not have the word “gun” or “firearm” in them.  Often, they are found to be incomplete or invalid.  There are a number of websites detailing BATFE horror stories about trusts approved that where later found invalid… risking seizure of the very firearms the trust was created to own!  They contain trustee instructions that, if followed, would likely violate the law.  So, what about a “conventional”trust done by your lawyer… same result although the trust is more likely to be legally valid!  And equally problematic.

Let’s illustrate with some questions…

What if you are out shooting an NFA firearm with a friend… you share… and law enforcement stops by to inquire?  Can you even do that with your “gun trust”?

What if you are sick, or you pass away… and your spouse innocently decides to mail your prized but tiny .22 cal silencer to her brother to have… what could go wrong?  Wait, isn’t that a felony for both of them?

The scary truth is that it is easy to be accused of a felony without even firing a gun!  The “accidental” felony can occur from simple possession or transfer to the wrong person, being in the wrong locale, or having the wrong firearm in either case.  Possession or transfer of ANY firearm can create risk depending on the facts.

Not convinced? 

What if you are involved in a gun event… you pull your gun when threatened or you hear a noise; you shoot someone in self-defense; somebody in a store or on the street calls the police as they are “scared” of your “concealed” pistol when your coat rides up?

Do you carry concealed?  Do you transport a firearm in your car?  Do you have a gun in your home for self-defense?  Who would you call in the middle of the night…

 Just sayin’

Doesn’t it make sense to work with an attorney who took his or her time to get educated about gun law?  Better, to know an attorney who uses a nationally available gun trust system… who can handle most if not all of your legal needs… who is part of the GunDocx™ Lawyers community… who can refer you, your friends, and family to a colleague throughout the US?  Most important, an attorney who can provide you with a tested, time-proven solution that works… and is constantly being improved?

All of this is really about your safety and peace of mind.  That’s why GunDocx™ was created… and why the lawyers who developed it and all those who now use it are building a community of gun owners AND attorneys.  Their GunDocx™ System is the only comprehensive solution that gives attorneys specific gun law training, the ability to draft custom gun trusts that match client needs and goals to budget, and a way to reach out to local gun owners… throughout the United States.

Give it a look… and talk to a trained GunDocx™ Lawyer at The Singer Law Firm

20 Questions

The ATF Form 20 is used to get permission to transport an NFA firearm from the state where it is registered to another. It is used for both permanent and temporary relocation. You must submit it for approval by the NFA Branch of the ATF prior to transporting NFA firearms either way, except for the temporary relocation of a silencer.

What are NFA firearms? Machine guns, silencers, short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns, destructive devices and “any other weapons” which is a category of firearms. Remember, they must all be registered lawfully in the first state, and you must be able to possess them in the second state, or you may be in violation of the law.

What is temporary relocation of a silencer? Well, we have been told six months or more… but we are checking with NFA Branch on this. You may want to submit one anyway to be cautious.

When used for temporary relocation, a Form 20 states the travel dates. If you go past the end date… the instructions say that you will need a NEW Form 20 to be allowed to transport your firearm back home!

You can find the ATF Form 20 here:

How long does approval take? NFA Branch advises us that you must permit at least 30-45 days for consideration… the more time the better. Given that the same Examiners who approve the transfer of newly purchased or inherited NFA Firearms must review the Form 20, you should allow 60 days or more in our opinion just to be on the safe side. Their workload is extreme, so apply early or you may have to leave your NFA firearm behind.

Do I Go In? by Dennis Brislawn

Imagine coming home from an evening out… and finding your front door kicked in.  What would you do?  That sense of outrage is there, anger, mixed with some fear about what you will find.  Is the burglar still inside?  What was taken…?

The decision you make in the next few minutes will affect your life for days, months, even until the rest of your life.

There are two paths you can take.  You can go in or you can retreat, observe, and call 911.  Now many of us, gun owners or not, would focus on our rights that were just violated and be tempted to charge in.

1.  “Burglar” could be gone.

2.  “Burglar” could be someone else than a burglar.

3.  “Burglar” could be there… and a confrontation could escalate into a shooting of either or both persons.

One of my SWAT friends and I were discussing the difference between military mindset (close with and destroy the enemy) and the police mindset (save lives).  You see, even when police officers use force in an armed setting there role is to save lives… yes, even of the perpetrator so long as their life or other lives are placed in jeopardy.  I am a civilian now, an armed citizen.  What is MY duty, my “mindset”?

Seems to me that reaching for the cell phone is my first action if there is no immediate peril.  Why?  Because while I may have a moral duty to come to somebody’s aid I do not have a LEGAL duty to do so.  And that is what causes my actions to put me at risk of prosecution.

We can’t use deadly force to protect property, at least in this state.  While going into my own home after or during a break-in is certainly legal… is it smart?  The question seems to me to be is should I do it rather than can I do it.

Are there facts that make me the aggressor?  What if a concerned neighbor or police officer was in there, having seen the broken door?

What do you think?  What facts would change your answer?

Granny’s Got a Gun

by Dennis Brislawn

Several months back I was invited to an elderly client’s home.  I mentioned to her two sons that I was doing gun trusts and they asked me to explain.  So I told them a little about my project and we talked about some gun stuff, target shooting, and what guns meant in our families growing up.

A couple of days later the boys mentioned that their mom, 92 years old, wanted to invite me over for coffee to show me some guns that she owned.  I jumped at the chance to go “walkabout” rather than stay in the office…

What I saw was surprising, although maybe in retrospect it should not have been.

I got to the house, and was welcomed in.  Armed with a hot, tasty cup of coffee (black as a banker’s heart, the way it should be presented!), I was escorted to a back bedroom where mom was waiting.  There, proudly displayed on her bed, were a number of well-used firearms in excellent condition.  Some looked kind of old… (pictures below are not hers but give you an idea).

Each one had a story.  Each one was the property of a great grandparent or grandparent, had been lovingly cared for and passed won in the family.  In fact, these rifles were not only antiques… family members carried them West and homesteaded in Washington with them in the late 1800 or so.  One was a Sharps rifle with a big flip-up sight… and her grandma used it to get vittles for the pot.

Legacy?  Sure.  We talked for about an hour and a half, and the boys (my age, late 50′s) were so obviously proud of these firearms.  Both boys told stories of shooting with their dad, mom and other family members, of hunting and camping trips and visits to the old family homestead in Eastern Washington.  I told them about visiting two of my family’s homesteads, one in Sprague, Washington and one a couple of miles south of Omak, Washington.  Mom told me about her mom, and her grandma the pioneer.  In fact, her mother homesteaded a parcel of land as a girl with her mother I understand.

At the end of the day, I felt a deep connection with my client family.  I was an honored insider into a piece of their heritage and their lives.  That was very precious to me.  Was this about business?  I suppose, but that was not the takeaway value for me.  The experience, insight, and shared feelings were, and are.  I can tell you, if that family needs something from me, they are on my “special attention” list… because it’s personal in a way it wasn’t before.

Guns have history… and tell our history.  Don’t let anyone tell you different.  Remember, Granny DOES have a gun.  And knows how to use it.