The man had been ordered to stay on his knees; instead, he stood up and charged the bank robber.
Luke, a customer at the North Side bank, slammed the masked man into the wall and attempted to put him in a headlock. But the robber twisted around and shot Luke in the left arm and then the right leg, breaking bones in both.
Luke, who asked that his last name not be used because the robber is still at large, said the robber asked “Why?” as Luke grabbed him. After the second shot, Luke said, “OK, OK,” and crumpled to the floor, at which point the man fled.
“He could have shot me in the head or the heart,” Luke said from his bed at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center on Friday. “Come to find out I was very fortunate.”
Luke was depositing a check at the Wells Fargo branch on the corner of North Division Street and Cozza Drive when the masked man entered just before 6 p.m. Thursday. The man told the four customers, who included a young mother and her infant, and four bank employees to get down on their knees, Luke said.
“It angered me to even get down on my knees, to be so powerless like that,” Luke said. “It’s a total violation. Your freedom has been taken away at the hands of a criminal.”
At first, when he heard the command to get down he thought it was a joke. But the man, who wore a ski mask and gloves, was serious. He had a backpack on the front of his chest and told the teller to fill it with cash.
“The manager told the teller just give him the money, give him the money,” Luke said.
Luke, a former Army medic, said the robber wasn’t holding a weapon when he entered the bank. He estimates the man stole several thousand dollars in cash.
After he was told to get on his knees, Luke worried he might be shot in the back of the head. He knew he was powerless, he said. At that point, Luke reached for his cellphone in hopes of alerting police. The robber saw the movement, turned toward him and said, “Hey, big guy, don’t.”
Then the bank robber turned and started walking out of the bank. Luke said he’d had enough at that point and charged the man from behind.
“I kind of took a chance,” Luke said, adding he didn’t see a weapon during the robbery.
Wells Fargo officials declined to answer questions about the robbery but released a statement that said the bank is cooperating with law enforcement.
“Wells Fargo’s top concern is the safety and well-being of our customers and team members. We are deeply saddened by the robbery at our Spokane location on North Division that resulted in the injury of one of our customers,” a statement from the bank said. “Our thoughts are with his family, and we hope for his full recovery.”
The FBI has taken over the investigation, and agents are interviewing witnesses, said Christian Parker, senior resident agent in Spokane.
The suspect is described as a white male between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall, weighing 250 to 275 pounds. He has short black hair. He was wearing black gloves and a ski mask. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the FBI’s Spokane office at (509) 458-8100.
“Sometimes when a robbery is taking place, the best course of action might be” to serve as a witness, Parker said. “Sometimes when there is going to be violence, some will choose to intervene.”
Parker said every situation is different, but he urges witnesses to crimes to focus on remembering details, like clothing and mannerisms.
Luke said he decided to attack the man because he was angry at being told to get on his knees and because the man had scared the mother and her child.
“The whole scenario really angered me,” Luke said. “Just that this guy would come in and cause panic to all these poor folks.”
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