By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – A toy gun that seemed harmless to a Riverview man caused real panic in a bank teller – who recently had been victimized by an armed robber – and customers at a local bank Monday.
Public Safety Director Thomas Coombs said police were dispatched to PNC Bank, 14951 Dix-Toledo, to investigate a possible armed robbery Monday morning. A customer – Jeremy Amidon – entered the bank while talking on a cell phone, and placed a plastic toy gun on the counter.
“That concerned the teller,” Coombs said. “She wondered why someone would do something like that, and she got upset.”
Coombs said that Amidon is a bank customer and was there to cash a check. A friend reportedly gave Amidon a ride to the branch, and Amidon was handling a toy gun that was left in the vehicle by the driver’s nephew.
Amidon reportedly had the toy in his back pocket and pulled it out when he reached for his wallet to conduct business.
Amidon said he was distracted by his cell phone conversation. When he saw the bank teller’s reaction he, “picked the gun up, waived it in the air and said something like, ‘It’s not an Uzi,’ and put it back in his pocket,” Coombs said.
Amidon continued his business with another teller and put the toy in his back pocket: The handle and grip that stuck out were black, Coombs said – parts of the toy were reportedly bright-colored – and were mistaken for a real weapon by another customer, a retired police officer who stepped outside and notified responding officers of the situation.
When Amidon left he was questioned by police, who took him into custody for processing. Amidon was arraigned in 28th District Court on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and possession of a facsimile of a weapon, and is scheduled to appear in court next week.
Coombs said that while there seemed no intent of causing a panic, the more serious of the charges is the disorderly conduct that could create a dangerous situation.
Toy guns often have orange tips, but Coombs said it’s common for children to remove those to make the toy seem more real. It’s equally common for criminals to attached a brightly-colored cap to a real weapon.
“You can see that this was a mistake,” Coombs said. “But why even take a fake gun into a bank? A moment’s hesitation could potentially cost a life.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)