Bank visitors can't forget the tragedy

November 03, 1992|By Meredith Schlow | Meredith Schlow,Staff Writer

Brightly lit and busy with temporary employees, the Farmers Bank on Liberty Road reopened yesterday with no evidence of the shootings that took the lives of two tellers and critically injured the manager and another teller last week.

But the minds of the customers held vivid memories of the women, who were familiar faces to those who patronize the community bank.

"I was trying to get [the two survivors'] addresses so I could send them a card," said Dina Strauss. "They were such lovely girls. . . . I could see them, even though they weren't there."

Two suspects have been charged in the case. Rumors have flooded the community since the shooting, but police again said yesterday that there was no evidence that there had been three robbers or that the robbery had anything to do with black militancy.

Lois and William Smith, who usually stop by the bank two or three times a week, had mixed feelings upon entering the branch.

"We felt sorry because we knew the women . . . but we want to be supportive of the new staff and manager," Mrs. Smith said. "It's wonderful that the bank has stayed because the community needs it. We don't want to be run out of our community by somebody's terrorizing actions."

Mrs. Smith also said she was not afraid to return to the bank. "The chance that someone else is going to target this bank is probably slim to zero," she said.

Two masked men entered the bank a week ago yesterday and ordered four women employees into a vault. One of the men subsequently opened fire, fatally injuring head teller Anastasia George, 51, and teller Dorothy Juanita Langmead, 44, and wounding Barbara Mitchell Aldrich, the 52-year-old manager, and Cindy Ann Thomas, 21, another teller.

The manager was able to return home last week, but Ms. Thomas remains in serious but stable condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Inside the bank yesterday, acting manager Brad Statnick said the bank's temporary staff, most of whom are volunteers from the bank's Pennsylvania branches, "is just trying to regroup." "We're feeling as safe as we would working in any other branch," he said. "What happened last week was, as far as I'm concerned, out of the ordinary."

Jackie Lebow, a vice president in marketing and sales, said the bank will have a permanent staff in about three months. She also said she doesn't expect any changes in the bank's security.

Along the bank's lawn, an increasing number of neatly arranged bouquets displayed the community's concern. Customers asked about the condition of the two survivors.

Michael Chapman, who soon after the shootings put up a sign that read "Capital Punishment for the Murderers," returned to the bank less than a week after leaving two floral arrangements on the lawn in memory of the slain women. Mr. Chapman said he has received a lot of positive response to the sign, but that at least one person has called the message dangerous.

"It is barbaric," Mr. Chapman agreed. "The government putting people to death is barbaric. But, dammit, we have to do it."

A candlelight vigil was held outside the bank last night.

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