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The cooperative fight against violent crime.

In the United States, 300,000 people have been gunned down in the last decade alone. The year 1990 yielded a bloody toll that took the FBI five months to tally. Year-end casualties--the statistical realities of violent crime--climbed 10 percent across the country, making the United States the most violent industrialized nation in the world. The potential for violent bloodshed in this country exceeds the likelihood of having cancer, being injured in a traffic accident, or getting divorced. * John Myers was ignorant of this fact. John's place in the world changed cataclysmically as he took his position in the inch-thick book, Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). John's story represents all the faceless victims whose numbers fill the UCR'S pages. * March 6, 1990, Richmond, VA. John woke well rested. All seemed right with the world. He got into his red Fiero and mindlessly fell into the routine checklist for opening the Long John Silvers restaurant. * Across town a fateful conversation was occurring. The hour, 8 am, was early for Roger Forbes and Eugene Watts. Nevertheless, the unlikely pair of early risers cemented their pact. "You want to do the job?" Forbes asked. "Let's do it," Watts said. * Detective Michael Arrighi disliked the budget priorities of Richmond. The 11-year veteran of the Richmond City police bureau tooled downtown in his Jetta. Arrighi hated the fact he had to use his own car. This predicament made his already-difficult job as a major crime investigator even harder. Arrighi had killed and had been shot in the line of duty. His case clearance was the highest in the bureau, but the city could not afford a car for him. * John Myers did not notice the Mercury with adhesive bandages covering the license plate as he arrived at Central Fidelity Bank. Others did. The two young men appeared to be trouble looking for a place to happen. One bystander even called the police. She was certain the men were going to rob the bank. She was wrong. The time was 9:25 am as Myers got out of his Fiero with the Long John Silvers' bank deposit bag tucked firmly under his arm. Eugene Watts drove the Mercury behind Myers. "Get closer man!" demanded Forbes, who was out the door before the car came to a stop.

The first pistol shot caught Myers's attention milliseconds before he realized he was hit. The second rang out before the first bullet traversed past his heart, grazing his esophagus. Myers's hand caught this second shot as he tried to snatch the gun from Forbes. Forbes fired the third shot after Myers threw the money bag at him. That one nicked Myers's liver.

Jerry Lucas, a salesman, sat slackjawed behind the wheel of his car. He could hardly believe what he had just witnessed.

"They didn't give him a chance," Lucas told police when they arrived at the scene. "He just shot him down from behind like a dog!"

Detective Arrighi was at the crime scene by the time my corporate security office was notified at 9:45 am, less than 20 minutes after the shooting took place. Whoever said bad news travels fast knew what he or she was talking about.

Fortunately, Long John Silvers had practiced a crisis plan. We confirmed early details of the injuries with the area supervisor. A corporate security representative contacted the police department and the hospital and collected pertinent information for rumor control. I found a training photo of Myers, a copy of his personnel jacket, and a copy of his insurance benefits, just in case a family member needed them.

Operations management for Long John Silvers flew from regional restaurant headquarters in Pittsburgh to Richmond to support the Myers family. Communicating concern and confidence to restaurants throughout the city was also important. My plane arrived from Lexington, KY, at 4:00 pm.

Arrighi and I met for the first time at 5:15 pm. The detective wasted no time in getting down to business. "Two black males, dark clothing, early twenties. The piece was a small automatic. We've got a good description on the car. It's a rust-colored Mercury. The tag was partially taped, but the witnesses are fairly certain it's IZY 455. That car comes back to a Loretta Watts, but the address is cold."

"Can you use a reward now or do you want to wait?" I asked. "More now is better than a little later, but we're close to the evening news deadline," Arrighi replied.

I made a call to clear reward approval. Arrighi had the reward announcement on the 6:00 pm news. "I think $ 10,000 should get some action," he said.

Arrighi and I were introduced to the family by operations management personnel. The mother and the wife were in shock. Myers's dad was in a rage. Arrighi promised the criminals would be caught. I told them that all our corporate resources were available to the police to ensure that was the case.

We registered Myers at the hospital as a John Doe so his identity, room number, and telephone number would be unknown to potential harassers, including the press. Although assailants seldom revisit their victims in hospitals, simple protective measures such as this can address a family's anxiety.

Arrighi and I visited the crime scene at 10:00 pm. The red Fiero sat quietly in the lot. The bank had the works: bulletproof glass, cameras, and alarms. I had seen it before. So had Arrighi. Fortified protection inside a building often results in the action occurring outside, where there are no security provisions. Also, gunplay inside a bank is a federal crime. Gunplay outside a bank is considered simple street robbery. It wasn't rocket science that helped Watts and Forbes design their plan. Their crime was a low-risk venture.

Shortly before 11:00 pm, we arrived at the restaurant where Myers worked. The employees were sullen with the realization that one of their own had been a victim of violent crime. The manager seemed certain the robbery meant the restaurant was next.

We asked all the routine questions about current and former employees. Did anyone, including customers, have a gripe with Myers? Was there anything unusual about his personal habits, routines, or associates? We had to account for the remote possibility of an inside set up or even a hit. Eyewitness accounts could support either.

March 7, 1990. A 6:00 am jog brought me back to life. I reviewed the previous days events. The case was promising. The leads were solid, and the detective cared about the case. I made a mental note to photograph everything regarding the case and to thank Arrighi for not just going through the motions.

We were on our way downtown in Arrighi's car since he had a court obligation. We made our way from his office to a cafeteria that was frequented by cops, judges, and lawyers.

Arrighi introduced me to some people and identified others. To those who were curious about a stranger, he would point at me and say, "He's Long John Silvers' corporate security. We're doing the shooting at the bank." As we sat down, Bob Fisher, a US postal inspector joined us. "Your guys sound an awful lot like the pair in Chesterfield, VA, setup" he said, "only they drive a green station wagon. Same setup though--got the manager in the back parking lot. I think they might have gotten the same guy twice."

By 10:00 am we were at the hospital interviewing Myers. Here he was, alive, 24 hours later.

Locating the suspects' vehicle was next on the agenda. Arrighi made an appointment with Jerry Lucas, the eyewitness. Then we visited Reggie and his computer.

Reggie was a curiosity, an intellectual bureaucrat whose niche was tax fraud. Reggie was certain that every person had a past that resided on a hard disk. Thanks to Reggie and a little luck, we stumbled onto Loretta Watts's street address half an hour later, which we visited. Down the block sat a rust-colored Mercury with Virginia tags IZY 455.

Arrighi radioed for backup; I started videotaping. When we knocked on the door, Eugene Watts answered the door and identified the vehicle as his mother's. He stated the car had been parked and had not moved. But a close inspection of the vehicle's rear tag revealed tape had been removed recently. On an otherwise dirty surface, clean, quarter-inch strips were present. Arrighi had the vehicle towed and Eugene consented to the bureau for various photographs.

At 11:00 am Arrighi and I met Jerry Lucas. Lucas described Eugene Watts, and said he was the driver. At 1 1:40 am Loretta Watts, Eugene's mother, arrived at the bureau. She said her son could not be involved in a robbery. When asked if Eugene might have loaned the car to a friend, Loretta Watts said Eugene was new to Richmond and only had one friend. "That would be Roger," she said. And she gave a physical description of Roger Forbes that matched the description of the shooter given by eyewitnesses.

Loretta Watts, Arrighi, and I proceeded from the police station to the Watts's home. When we arrived, Arrighi told Watts that because he was a suspect he would have to read Watts his rights. Arrighi advised the Watts family that people could not lie without being discovered.

The tension turned to silence. "Eugene," I said, "you can't lie to your mother." As if on cue, Loretta Watts said, "Eugene did you shoot that man?" Watts blurted, "No, Roger did." Arrighi arrested Watts and brought him downtown.

For the most part, Watts cooperated, fully incriminating Roger Forbes. Watts said he gave Forbes a ride to see somebody. Forbes jumped out of the car and got the money, but Watts said he did not hear any shots--he was "too sleepy to hear any shots."

Watts eventually admitted the gun Myers was shot with was his. He had just recently purchased it from a local gun store. At 3:00 pm I notified my office that the wheelman was in custody and the shooter had been identified. We did not release this information to the local media for fear of losing Forbes.

Watts pointed out Forbes's apartment. When pressed on details of other crimes using his mother's car, Eugene vehemently denied any involvement. He said he had a car of his own and that it was being repaired. He offered to show it to us.

Watts took us to his car, a green station wagon that fit the description of the car Bob Fisher had told us about at breakfast that morning.

At 9:30 pm Arrighi and several police officers went to Forbes's apartment. A search warrant on Forbes apartment produced weapons, safes, and contraband. The Long John Silvers' money bag taken from Myers was found in Forbes's front closet.

Forbes proved to be more forthcoming than Watts. He volunteered details of numerous felonies, including the shooting of Myers and the Chesterfield robberies.

BARELY 36 HOURS HAD ELAPSED SINCE the shooting. The case was closed as a result of the substantial cooperative effort between public law enforcement, Long John Silvers' corporate security, and the citizens of Richmond who got involved as eyewitnesses.

Epilogue. John Myers cautiously recovers his life with a new appreciation of the threats that surround him. He reminds his colleagues to be alert for suspicious persons and vehicles and to vary their banking schedules and routes. He alerts commercial depositors to be discreet and carry money on their person or in a carrier that does not attract attention. Myers cautions cashcard users to choose banking machines that are located only in well-lit, well-traveled areas.

Eugene Watts is serving 42 years for robbery, malicious wounding, and felony use of a firearm. Roger Forbes was sentenced to life plus 26 years.

Francis D'Addario, CPP, is director of loss prevention for Hardee's Food Systems Inc. in Rocky Mount, NC. He was previously the corporate security director for Long John Silvers. D'Addario is the chairman of the ASIS Standing Committee on Food Services.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:D'Addario, Francis
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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