By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- Police say a quick thinking Tulsa bar owner helped stop a crime spree Wednesday night.
Tulsa Police say thanks to her they caught a man suspected of robbing four neighborhood bars in the past two weeks. They say he was just getting ready to rob the fifth, but was stopped just in the nick of time.
This isn't James Cook's first go-round. In 2007, he was caught robbing people outside bars on New Year's day. Because he was only 17 at the time, he was sent to the juvenile bureau. This time around, he's looking at prison.
Kim owns Keel's bar on East Pine in Tulsa. She'd gotten a description of the robbers from her beer vendor and gave it to her bartender. When the men came in Wednesday night, the bartender called Kim and she came to work. The men had already left, but one of them returned near closing time.
"The bartender came to the end of the bar and nodded and I acted like a customer and went to the bathroom and called 911 and about 6 policemen walked in within three minutes," she said.
While Tulsa Police were talking to James Cook, Kim's bartender noticed something else: a .40 caliber pistol hiding in plain sight.
"He had dropped his weapon into the garbage can by the bar and my bartender had happened to empty an ash tray there and saw the gun," Kim said.
Officers arrested Cook on the gun charge and detectives say it didn't take long for folks from three other bars robbed recently to identify him as the robber.
Other bars Cook is also suspected of robbing include:
Police say Cook is also a suspect in a recent hotel robbery.
"They're going to keep going until they get caught. That's really what the robber's mindset is; they go until they get caught," Sergeant Dave Walker, Tulsa Police.
Cook spent about two years in juvie for armed robbery, then six months in the county jail. He just got out two months ago.
"I thought about closing early, but, nope, we gotta stop this guy," Kim said.
Kim says the local bar community is like a family and everyone had been worried and on the lookout and she's glad they can all breathe a sigh of relief now.
"You don't see that in society anymore, watching each other's backs, but we do, all neighborhood bars are like that," she said.
Tulsa Police say Cook had a partner and they are still looking for him.