Back in March, I posted an entry about a local man, a deacon in his church, who robbed a bank. My post is here, but in summary, the man was hailed by many as a "good" man who just snapped. He was seen walking into the bank wearing a mask and police were called. He ended up holding two bank employees hostage during the attempt, before he eventually gave himself up.
Last week, Bruce Lee Windsor plead guilty in Federal court to the bank robbery. Windsor, father of 4, stepped up to the task and admitted his actions. He still faces two counts of kidnapping in state court. Whether he will plead guilty in this case or attempt a defense is not yet clear.
Windsor faces up to 25 years on the Federal case (sentencing date not set). According to this news article he did not have a criminal past, however he was facing a $30,000 lawsuit. The article also says the "federal system doesn’t allow parole." With that information and the upcoming state trial, Mr. Windsor will be away from his children for a long, long, long time.
Some comments I've seen on the newspaper articles question Windsor's status as a "good man." Some people had question about his real estate dealings (the lawsuit is one result). He did have financial problems and apparently was looking for a way out.
There are a lot of victims in this story. Some are quick to point out his wife and children, who still face the same problems he faced before the robbery and now face new problems. They are correct in pointing out these problems. Others are correct to point out the two people held hostage, who feared for their life as well as all of the ones in the bank. From a strictly dollars and cents viewpoint, there's lost business at the bank, cost of the police force to come out and other business aspects. I mentioned back in March that I knew a family impacted by the event (much less than those immediately involved).
I go back to my original question - What were you thinking? Obviously, Windsor wasn't thinking. The Greenville News reports that FBI has a 60% clearance rate in solving bank robberies. You have only a 2 in 5 chance of getting anything and then it's only likely to be "couple of thousand dollars." As Miller Shealy, a former federal prosecutor and now Charleston School of Law professor says, "the bank robber is a more desperate form of criminal and not a very smart one these days." (see here)
I hold no special animosity towards Mr. Windsor, but I also hold no special compassion. Maybe he was a "good man", but his actions deserve punishment. The length of that punishment will soon become obvious.