Man wounded while trying to rob OKC bank

Thursday, June 5th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An employee of the Grady County Sheriff's Office was shot and wounded Wednesday while allegedly trying to rob a bank, authorities said.

Oklahoma City police said Charles William James, 55, was being treated at a local hospital after being shot in the upper body by a security guard.

James had recently been hired as Grady County's coordinator of enhanced-911 emergency system, or E-911, the sheriff's office said.

James, who previously worked 29 years for Southwestern Bell, was responsible for assigning addresses that correspond with the enhanced 911 system, Sheriff Kieran McMullen said.

The robber entered Americrest Bank in northwest Oklahoma City and placed a can on the counter in front of a teller, police Capt. Jeffrey Becker said. The man claimed the can contained a bomb, Becker said.

The security guard, retired police Officer Dennis Asper, was in the back of the bank and heard the commotion, Becker said. Asper scuffled with the man and shot him once.

Bank customers were evacuated because of the bomb scare, which turned out to be a hoax.

"We heard sirens, so I came out to look and saw eight or 10 police cars out front," said Don Clapp, co-owner of neighboring Shell Rapid Lube. "They brought the guy out in handcuffs and put him face down in the parking lot."

James was armed with a handgun, a holster with loaded ammunition clips and a grenade, Becker said. He faces complaints of suspicion of assaulting a police officer and bank robbery.

FBI Special Agent Gary Johnson said James is a suspect in the April 3 robbery of a south-side Commercial Federal Bank.

"We're certain it was him," Johnson said. "We've looked at the pictures. It's the same clothes and the same fake bomb."

McMullen said James is a 15-year resident of Chickasha and has a wife and three daughters.

"He had a clean bill of health as far as the paperwork went," McMullen said. "It (the bank robbery) definitely surprises me."

Oklahoma City has had 21 bank robberies this year, Johnson said. Oklahoma City averages about 20 bank robberies annually.