Teller Allan Tooles was in the middle of cashing a customer's check when three masked men stormed into the South Side bank Tuesday, screaming words he couldn't make out.
One of the robbers leapt over the counter and forced co-worker Tramaine Gibson at gunpoint to the vault, but Gibson didn't have the combination, Tooles believes. Gibson, who had worked at the Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan branch for six months, was then shot.
Gibson, 23, a married father of two, died later at Mt. Sinai Hospital. A customer and a security guard were also wounded. The FBI and Chicago police launched a manhunt for the three bandits, who escaped after the brazen, morning holdup, one of Chicago's most violent in many years, authorities said.
The robbery at 87th Street and South King Drive was over in about five minutes. The three men escaped in a maroon Oldsmobile with only a small amount of cash, police said.
Two nearby schools were temporarily put on lockdown while police searched the area.
Later Tuesday, police found what they believe to be the getaway car abandoned at 66th Street and Wabash Avenue.
One of the armed robbers disarmed a female security guard, police and witnesses said. But a second security guard, Earl Coleman, 53, exchanged gunfire with the robbers, they said. At least 20 shots were fired.
Coleman and a bank customer, Dorothy Sanders, 73, a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher, were shot, authorities said. One robber may also have been wounded.
Coleman was shot in the chest and legs but was "doing good" at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, said the mother of two of his children. Sanders underwent surgery Tuesday, a family member said. Police said both individuals had non-life threatening injuries.
The men rushed into the bank at about 9:30 a.m., all wearing dark clothing, gloves and disguising their faces, authorities said. Because of the disguises, a surveillance video, which is being edited to remove graphic content, hasn't given authorities a much better description of the men, authorities said.
FBI spokesman Frank Bochte said agents are investigating whether the men were also responsible for a similar robbery on May 10 at a nearby Cole Taylor Bank branch. Three people wearing disguises pulled off that robbery, the FBI said.
The violence was all too real for Tooles, 24, who was still shaken Tuesday evening as he recalled hearing the sounds of gunshots, screaming and breaking glass from his hiding place under a table in the cafeteria. When he came out, he found Gibson, who had been working the drive-through, lying face down near the vault, his white shirt soaked with blood.
"He was trying to get up and I grabbed him and whispered to him 'Stay down,' " Tooles said. "I didn't think it was that bad. I said, 'You're going to be OK,' and he was nodding like, 'I know.' "
Tooles said he cried later when he found out his friend had died.
On Tuesday evening, Gibson's family and friends trailed into his parents' home in the Englewood neighborhood.
Verton Gibson Jr., his father, said his son had worked at the bank for three years, though he had been at the 87th Street location for only about six months. Verton said he was proud of what his son had accomplished given the challenges of growing up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood.
"There's a lot of hopelessness here," he said. "We stayed on Tramaine because we knew you could slip through the cracks here in Englewood."
He told of how Tramaine, who was named employee of the month recently, planned to buy his first home.
His father nearly choked up when he recounted how Tramaine would call his mother every day and ask her, "How's the most beautiful woman in the world?"
"We are drawing on our faith right now," he said. "It's just a lot of hurting. Just like that, your whole life is changed."
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
More on the Illinois Service Federal bank robbery yesterday...
I would just post this in the original post from yesterday afternoon, but I think this Tribune story warrants it's own post. Just look at how serious and out of control these criminals were...