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Colorado Sees Double-Trouble Crime

September 13, 2000

LA JUNTA, Colo. (AP) _ This town of 8,500 nearly had its first bank robbery in at least 17 years.

But the bank president couldn’t open the vault.

Two masked men broke into the home of Gregg Mullins, 63, president of Colorado East Bank and Trust Co., early Tuesday and forced him to go to the bank. One of the men stayed behind, holding Mullins’ wife, Mary, hostage.

About 20 minutes earlier, the would-be robbers had fire-bombed a school to create a diversion, police believe.

``I’ve been here 17 years as a chief, and we’ve not had a bank robbery during my tenure here,″ said police Chief Chuck Widup. ``Now we’ve had all three: a kidnapping, hostage-taking and a bank robbery.″

When Mullins couldn’t open the vault, his assailant hit him on the back of the head and fled, police said. When Mullins recovered, he called police.

``I told Gregg I was glad he didn’t do anything stupid,″ Widup said. ``I was glad he did what they told him to do.″

Police didn’t say whether the two attackers were armed.

Mary Mullins was struck in the face by the other attacker. She and her husband were treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released.

No arrests had been made Wednesday.

An eyewitness to the fire bombing at the school, less than a mile from the Mullinses’ home, reported seeing two young people, possibly teen-agers.

The fire-bombing caused minor damage.

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