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It Wasn’t a Bank Heist After All

September 5, 2005

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) _ Police officers who sped to a southwest Missouri bank last week thought they were investigating a bank robbery. But instead, they were drawn into a bizarre landlord-tenant dispute.

It all started Friday morning after a man went into an office at a US Bank and handed an employee a note that read: ``This man has a gun and wants my money.″ The man he was referring to was his ex-landlord, who was waiting in the lobby.

The bank employee pushed a button and went into another room. By the time police arrived, the ex-landlord was gone.

And the man sitting in the office told police, ``No! No! No! I’m not trying to rob the bank!″

He insisted the gun he was referring to belonged to his ex-landlord, not himself.

The man told police his ex-landlord pulled up alongside him in his car as he was going down the street in his wheelchair Friday. He said the landlord said he had a gun and would use it if the man didn’t withdraw the money the landlord said he was owed.

The ex-tenant had refused to pay the full amount the landlord had charged because he said he was being overcharged for utilities and food.

The man said his former landlord also enticed him with the possibility of returning his possessions, including a breathing apparatus he uses.

Police investigated and learned that the ex-tenant did indeed have an account at the bank.

Officers then headed to the former landlord’s house, where he told police the man who handed the bank employee a note used to live in his garage and owed him $400.

Thursday night, the landlord said his ex-tenant called and told him to meet him at the bank in the morning.

The ex-landlord said he obliged because he wanted his money. But he said he became uncomfortable and left. He insisted he didn’t have a gun.

Joplin police Cmdr. Jim Hounschell said detectives have determined that whatever happened Friday, it wasn’t an attempted bank robbery.

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Information from: The Joplin Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com

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