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A soldier home on leave in Sarasota, Fla. was in a bank Tuesday with his two little boys when he suddenly found himself in the midst of an armed robbery. With the suspect waving his weapon, the soldier calmly stepped up and took charge.

Army Staff Sgt. Eddie Peoples, an Iraq War vet, can be seen standing in the background in a bank surveillance video with his 4- and 6-year-old boys as the robber enters the bank and waves a gun.

The suspect demanded money and threatened to kill anyone who didn’t get on the ground.

Sgt. Peoples directed his boys to get down, moving chairs in front of them, and stood there, guarding them. Just before the suspect fled with a bag of cash, he turned and pointed his gun at the 6-year-old and made a threat.

Peoples said, “He pointed the weapon at my son and the exact words — I’m not sure — but it was something of the nature of ‘Don’t try anything or the kiddie will get it.”‘

So far, so good. Tactically speaking, Sgt. Peoples did everything right. Protect the kids, get yourself between the bad guy and your kids, provide camouflage or cover for the, as best you can. What happens next takes us into the realm of where wise men don’t go, since angels fear to tread.

Sgt. Peoples took umbrage at the robber pointing his gun at his 6-year-old and threatening him. But the robber leaves and Sgt. Peoples follows him out of the bank. Now I’m thinking, “the threat is no longer here. I need to get my kids out of here, and let the police handle everything else. Nope.

Sgt. Peoples follows the (armed) bad guy out of the bank and sees him climb in a white minivan. (A criminal driving a minivan? They’ll have to take some poetic license with that, when they shoot the made-for-TV Lifetime movie.) The good Sergeant gets into his own car and rams the van, keeping the perp from escaping.

As I’m reading about this, I’m thinking, “Okay…Peoples must have had a carry piece in the car, because going after an armed robber is suicide.” Uh…no. The robber exits his mom-mobile minivan and the Sergeant thinks I’m gonna take two through the windshield. Nope. The angels were with him. Again. Still. Peoples exits his vehicle, and the robber puts the gun to Peoples’ forehead.

Peoples said, “When he put that gun in my face after I got out of the car, I did a wrist lock on him. Got him in a half Muay Thai clinch around the back of the neck. Brought him down to the ground.”

Only after this, did the Sargeant discover the gun was a toy. Nice to know. But let’s look at the many ways this could have turned out badly for our hero.

First of all, playing the hero is a bad idea, armed or not. There’s a reason the police have armored vests, high-powered combat rifles, Tasers, et cetera. Unless you’re walking around like Judge Dredd, going all RoboCop on somebody is generally a bad idea.

Second, once the threat is no longer present, it’s time to turn your attention to triage – take care of your kids! Leaving them behind to go chase the bad guy may be heroic, but a dead hero is absolutely, positively of no use whatsoever to two young children. (And as it turns out, he had a couple more at home.)

Third, if you are going to be foolhardy enough to go after a bad guy when your kids are no longer in danger, you might wanna have a backup plan. Of course, if he’d HAD a gun and used it, he would likely be brought up on charges by the DA for vigilantism, and likely at least Murder Two, since no one was in mortal danger after the robber left the bank.

The Sarasota County sheriff honored the married father of four for his bravery.

I would have, too. But then I would have pulled the Sergeant aside, and told him DON’T DO THAT AGAIN.

Peoples said, “It was a new variable for me, because I’ve never been in a situation where my children have been in danger. So after I got over that part, I went into action.”

As a parent, I get it. The adrenalin is flowing. You want to DO SOMETHING. You have the instinct that you have to take out the guy that threatened your kid. But (hopefully) there’s a rational part of your brain, telling the instinctive part, Slow down there, Matt Dillon. Take a chill pill and lets assess the sitch, and maybe do a quick risk/reward analysis on this one.

“He didn’t say it to me, per se, but said it to the whole bank,” Peoples recalled. “But he pointed the weapon at my 6-year-old, because he could see him at the end of the sofa, and he said something to the effect of ‘Don’t move or the kiddies will get it,’ and I was just like — I couldn’t believe it, you know. And after that, he — I guess he looked at my face, because I was really upset then, and he said, ‘You, the big black guy, don’t try anything,’ you know, and then he left.”

Yeah, that would trip my trigger, too. But protecting your kids is Job #1. And when he left the bank, it turned from “protecting his kids” to “retribution for threatening his kids.” Which can get you killed. Or arrested/convicted/sentenced/imprisoned. Just ask that Pharmacist in Oklahoma.

Peoples said he did it all to stall the suspect and give the police some time to get to the scene.

As for the kids in the bank, Peoples’ 6-year-old Ikai said he wasn’t scared.

He told Hill, “I knew (I would be OK), because he’s in the Army, so he would beat his butt, because the bad guy’s not in the Army, he’s just a normal guy.”

Peoples said, “Actually (my 6-year-old) ran up to me because, whenever I go in deployments, I always tell my boys to put in perspective that Daddy is going to fight the bad guys, and I walk into the bank, and he walks up and he goes, ‘Daddy’ — I mean, in a loud voice, you know, ‘Daddy, did you get that bad guy?’ or ‘Did you kick that bad guy’s butt?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, Daddy got him,’ and there were three dozen in there, and they started clapping and applauding and everything, so then I gave them all hugs.”

It’s a heartwarming story. And the guy IS a hero. But he, his wife and his kids are extraordinarily lucky that he’s not a DEAD hero. Or sitting in his town’s equivalent of a Riker’s Island jail cell.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports deputies arrested the suspect. The Sheriff’s Office identified him as Matthew Rogers, 34, a homeless Sarasota man with a criminal history, including arrests for burglary, auto theft and reckless driving.

I don’t care if the perp was a 60-year-old grandmother who’s in the Altar Guild in her church, with an outstanding civic record, with not so much as a parking ticket on her record, and who knits helmet cozies for our troops. But I have to admit, it makes you feel a little morally-superior and righteous when you hear that this idiot has a long rap sheet.

Of course, that begs the question, “why was this moron allowed to roam around and cause more trouble?” Obviously, the guy’s no mental giant – statistically, you have about the same chance of being eaten by a Great White as you do pulling a bank job and getting away with it. Life is NOT like the movies.

Which is why, while I applaud the bravery os Sgt. Peoples, I hope he won’t do try this again.

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  1. This man is certainly a hero, but he’s lucky that he’s not a dead hero with four orphaned kids.

  2. He’s no more a hero than the guy who forgets there’s a round in the chamber and negligently discharges the gun into the ground is a responsible gun owner. They were both just lucky. They both acted stupidly and were lucky. You can’t call the one a hero anymore than you can call the other a responsible gun owner.

      • Quoting myself from the post on Collin Goddard not making sense. again. still.
        “Not to mention that people have waded into such situations unarmed to stop crazy people (and make no mistake Cho and Loughner were crazy). ”

        Sometimes we need some impetuous young man (soldier) to step up and do the right thing. Action changes things.

    • Sounds like you are just bitter that he didn’t get killed so you could spin it into another one of your silly reasons to ban guns.

      And you might want to look up the definition of Hero sometime. Nowhere in the definition does it say the Hero has to survive. He actually fits the definition of hero quite well; guess we’ll just chalk that up to another thing you have been wrong about.

    • Mikey, it’s really hard to be broadminded with such a narrow mind. A hero is someone who acte heroically. This man brought to justice an armed robber. He was able to stop him without loss of life, he didn’t do a Rodney King on the guy, and all the stolen money was recovered. I’d say that’s pretty heroic. My points were that he put himself at a huge risk (and therefore endangered his family had he been hurt or killed) which violates the principle of rational self-interest. And by chasing the guy down, had he been armed, he could have easily been prosecuted for vigilantism, instead of treated like a hero. Did he make a bad decision in going after the guy? Yep. In my estimation. (I wasn’t there and don’t like to armchair quarterback, but from what facts I have at my disposal, he should have stayed with his kids.) He’s still a hero in my book. The guy that has an ND is negligent. Nothing heroic about that.

      Now…why don’t you mosey on over here (again) and hyperventilate a bit. Maybe you’ll get the point with a second look.

      • Sorry Brad. Heroism is not abandoning your two young children to go after an escaping bank robber. The fact that it all ended well does nothing to diminish the stupidity of what he did.

        • Yeah why would anyone have any faith in the things they teach there kids. like stay here dont follow me. Here is the cell phone call you mom right now. Dont pick up guns if you find one get an adult. I started teaching my son around 3 yrs old what to do when or if anything happens. We had to go do quals at the outside range and he would sit in the car with muffs on or when it was warm out on the table to watch. He has always known what to do if bad things happen I taught him for the first 5 years I was with the Sheriffs Dept. and he still knows what to do if I have to leave and hes left alone.

    • Okay be honest, are you on the payroll as the TTAG goofy-but-incendiary grenade boy? If not, when the position opens up, you have my endorsement. You’re good.

  3. “It’s a heartwarming story. And the guy IS a hero. But he, his wife and his kids are extraordinarily lucky that he’s not a DEAD hero.”


    “Or sitting in his town’s equivalent of a Riker’s Island jail cell.”

    That would be unbridled abuse of the state’s police power, which, in occasionally more moral times, resulted in violent insurrections and deposition of governments. You don’t prosecute a guy that shoots an armed robber.

    • Well YOU don’t. And I wouldn’t. But there are plenty of DAs out there for whom “prosecutorial overreach” is the equivalent of “re-election bullet point” (no pun intended). The pharmacist in Oklahoma is a poor example (because he overreached himself) but there are plenty of stories on the books where someone who went a few feet past “protect and defend me and mine from imminent danger” ended up in prison. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And there’ve been way too many times this kind of thing has turned into the hero becoming the Judas goat.

      • Which is why all of this must change. And I hope to God that it happens soon.

  4. I’d rather see people err on this side than the other. Sometimes it will end badly, but on the whole, my world is better because of guys like this. So good for him. If anybody wants to start a collection, I’ll chip in $40 to help buy him a basic S&W 442 so he can be a proper tool user next time.

  5. “And when he left the bank, it turned from “protecting his kids” to “retribution for threatening his kids.” Which can get you killed. Or arrested/convicted/sentenced/imprisoned. Just ask that Pharmacist in Oklahoma.”

    No, RF. You’re confusing force with deadly force. It simply does not matter that the jeopardy to the soldier or his family had passed — jeopardy is a requirement for using deadly force, NOT non-deadly force. Sgt. Peoples did not use deadly force, so there is no way he could have committed any crime whatsoever. I am not aware of any law anywhere this country criminalizing the use of non-deadly force by a person to prevent a felony or the immediate flight from a felony, especially when the felony was witnessed by the person seeking to make a so-called “citizens arrest.”

    I can’t say whether Sgt. Peoples was wise to take the couse he did, but let’s face it: he’s defending us every day. Maybe it’s gotten to be a habit for him. God bless him, I sure hope so.

  6. To: Sgt. Peoples

    I realize you’re an enlisted guy, but I salute you. I’ll sleep better at night knowing guys like you are serving on the front lines.


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