Bank robbery suspect shot and killed by Tulsa Police

Wednesday, April 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The man Tulsa Police say robbed the Bank of America Tuesday morning has been identified as Theophilus Fleming. Around 4 pm Tuesday, the search for the robbery suspect ended near 4th and Cheyenne.

Police had been following the suspect for several blocks down south Denver Street when he pulled over in front of his apartment building. That's when they say the man jumped out of the car, pulled his gun and began to run. Tulsa Police officer Lucky Lamons says, "They ordered him to stop several times. The detective was about 20-25 feet away from him. Shot him. We don't know how many times he was hit, but we think the detective fired four rounds."

A witness to the incident, Greg Vann says police were justified in shooting the suspect, "the police officer told him to put the gun down. He did not put the gun down, so therefore, they reacted. Did what they had to do." Fleming was pronounced dead at the scene. Lamons says the suspect did point his gun at officers as he was running. Police say they had been tracking the man for most of the afternoon.

Lamons says police received a tip after someone watching the noon news recognized something about the robber. "A person recognized the phrase that he said, 'I've got to make money to the sun god.' That clicked to who it was in his mind." That phrase, ‘I have to make a payment to the sun god,' was what police say the robber told the teller at Bank of America. The teller, seeing a gun in the man's hand, began giving him money. Then a noise from the side of the bank lobby sparked chaos. Lamons says, "he turned his attention over there and for no reason at all, without being provoked, he opened fire on the customers over to the side." One of the bullets hit 28-year old Stuart Miller in the leg. Miller was moved to a local hospital where he was in stable condition.

Police immediately began looking for the suspect who fled on foot and removed some clothing at a nearby homeless shelter. Then the trail grew colder, until that big tip from an alert viewer, and the fatal showdown only blocks from the original bank robbery.

Lamons says the officer who fired at Fleming, is Detective Bob Little, a 24 year-veteran. He has been placed on administrative leave, pending outcome of an investigation into the shooting.