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Police Kill Two During Pizza Hut Robbery Attempt

March 23, 1987

DENTON, Texas (AP) _ Police who had been trailing two men believed linked to more than 20 north Texas armed robberies shot and killed the suspects during a foiled restaurant holdup.

Two officers were wounded during the exchange of gunfire at the crowded Pizza Hut restaurant, but only one remained hospitalized Sunday. No customers were injured.

A police tactical unit from Fort Worth, 35 miles southwest of Denton, was following the two men because they were suspects in more than 20 armed robberies in Fort Worth and the armed robbery last week of a Taco Bueno in Denton, said Denton Police Division commander Bill Cummings.

Fort Worth police spokesman Doug Clarke said the two men had been under surveillance for several days by his department’s tactical team and Texas Rangers.

The dead men were identified as James Edward Bannister, 34, and Jimmy Charles Dodd, 31, both of Fort Worth.

Joan Jeanette Fields, 42, and Tammy Dodd Taylor, 26, both of Fort Worth, were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery. The women, whom police described as accomplices, were in the Denton County Jail on Sunday night.

About 25 to 30 people were inside the Pizza Hut when the two men burst in late Saturday wielding sawed-off shotguns, police said.

″I saw a guy come into the Pizza Hut with a black hood and a shotgun,″ said a witness, who asked not to be identified. ″He told us to get under the tables and I don’t know what happened until I heard the shot.″

Another witness said two men came inside and yelled, ″Don’t look up.″ A short time later, one said, ″I’m getting impatient.″

″The robber in the black mask was getting upset because the clerk was taking so long to open the safe,″ a third witness said.

Capt. Jerry L. Blaisdall and Mark Lang of the tactical unit were both shot in the left leg by the suspects, police said.

Blaisdall was treated at the scene; Lang was taken to AMI Denton Regional Medical Center and later transferred to Harris Hospital in Fort Worth, where he was in good condition.

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