A fatal bank robbery in eastern Oklahoma has left two people dead, including bank president and CEO Randy Peterson. Authorities said on Thursday morning, Peterson was shot along with the suspected gunman who robbed the bank.
Peterson, who was 64-years-old, was described as being "a great man" by Robert Simpson, the bank's owner. He recently made a brief statement on the death of his well-respected colleague. "I've seen people die, but I've never seen a more horrific way to die than what I saw today," a devastated Simpson told NewsOK.
Simpson, who witnessed the horrific scene, described the bank robbery as "unconventional." He said that at approximately 9:30 a.m., a man who was seen wearing a woman's hat walked into the bank. Once inside, he pulled out a gun, went into Peterson's office and fatally shot him in the stomach.
Simpson also said that he and another employee of the bank found Peterson slumped over in his office with blood gushing from his mouth. They tried to stop the bleeding but it was too late, as Mr. Peterson died instantly. The gunman was later killed in a shoot-out after being pursued in a long-standing car chase with police, authorities said.According to CBS News, FBI Special Agent Terry Weber stated at a press conference that a man walked into the Bank of Eufaula on Thursday morning and shot one of the employees there. Mick Thompson, who is the state banking commissioner, confirmed Peterson's death.
"The suspect attempted to take another employee hostage on his way out of the bank," Weber said. :When the woman resisted, the suspect shot her, then took a customer hostage and left the bank in a vehicle."
Both the bank suspect and the woman were seen getting away in a white SUV. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol then began pursuing them in a chase that eventually turned into a deadly shoot-out.
According to KFOR.com, police chased the bank robber along Highway 69, right between Checotah and Onapa.
A trooper "initiated a tactical procedure to stop the vehicle," OHP spokesman Lt. John Vincent said. Vincent also added that the state trooper, along with two different police agencies, were involved in the fatal shoot-out with the suspect. The shooter was confirmed to be an African-American male, but he was dressed like a woman. Vincent did not state if the suspect was wearing a dress at the time of the incident.Weber said that the bank robber, later identified as 39-year-old Cedric Lamont Norris, was killed and the hostage was critically injured from the gunfire. According to Weber, the hostage, along with the female bank employee are expected to make a full recovery. "She and the female bank employee were both out of surgery and are expected to survive," Weber said.
Nevertheless, it isn't quite clear who shot Norris or the hostage during the fatal shoot-out. "The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is handling that aspect of the investigation," Vincent said. Fortunately, no police officers were hurt during the pursuit or the dangerous shoot-out.According to CBS Tulsa affiliate KOTV-TV, the shoot-out occurred at a nearby RV park. A resident told the news station that she was in her RV, which was sitting approximately 100 feet away when the shots rang out. "I was in a deep sleep, and I heard gunshots," Paschen said. "I hit the floor. My gut instinct told me to hit the floor."
Norris has lived in Oklahoma for quite some time and has had numerous outstanding convictions for not only robbery but for other crimes as well. Besides Oklahoma, Norris has committed crimes in the state of Texas. According to the FBI, Norris' last known residence was in Texas.
Both the FBI and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol are currently investigating the incident. In the meantime, the street located in front of the bank was reopened sometime in the afternoon. A flashing sign that was posted in front of city hall read, "Prayers for Eufaula."
[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]