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Hero shot in Long Beach holdup sues bank

Richard Camp tackled the robbery suspect at the Farmers & Merchants Bank and was wounded in the thigh. He thought the bank would help him financially during his recuperation, but it hasn't.

March 18, 2010|By My-Thuan Tran
  • Richard Camp, with wife Jean, alleges Farmers & Merchants Bank in Long Beach did not protect customers. The bank denies the charge.
Richard Camp, with wife Jean, alleges Farmers & Merchants Bank in Long… (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles…)

Richard Camp was hailed as a hero when he tackled a gunman suspected of trying to rob a Long Beach bank earlier this month.

But these days, Camp feels more like a victim.

The gunman shot him in the right thigh and his recovery will take months, Camp said. The 39-year-old general contractor said he is unable to work and worries about how to support his wife, Jean, and 3-year-old daughter, Aubrey.

He initially thought that Farmers & Merchants Bank would offer him financial help.

But other than a bouquet of flowers, an invitation for lunch and an offer to cover his medical costs, Camp did not believe the bank did enough. He said he did not need help with medical costs because his wife's insurance would cover it.

"I would have thought there would have been some kind of reward, or the bank would offer me some kind of assistance," said Camp, who has been a customer of the bank for nine years. "I just wanted to be taken care of in the interim until I get better."

So Camp filed a negligence lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the bank failed to provide a safe environment for its patrons when the suspect, Robert Gordon Lockwood, 51, entered the bank on the morning of March 5. Authorities believe Lockwood is the "Sports Bike Bandit," who has robbed several area banks.

Once inside the bank, Lockwood allegedly fired several shots, hitting himself, a female customer and Camp. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

Camp's attorney, Eric Dubin, said the bank failed to keep customers and employees safe because there is no protective glass shields for tellers and the security guard was in the parking lot when the suspect entered the bank.

The lawsuit does not list monetary damages sought by Camp.

Daniel Walker, president of the Long Beach-based chain of banks, said the lawsuit stemmed from a misunderstanding.

Walker said the invitation for lunch came after he read in newspapers that Camp was concerned about missing work. He said four executive officers of the bank were scheduled to attend.

"We were there to listen. We would have taken the situation and discussed it and figured out what was the best for everyone concerned," he said. "From our perspective, we were trying to treat this very carefully and do the right thing."

Camp declined the invitation to lunch and the offer to pay for his medical expenses, Walker said, noting that the bank also agreed to pay the medical expenses of the other injured patron.

"I am not aware of a reward that the bank has ever paid to a customer under this situation," said Walker, whose great-grandfather started the Long Beach bank in 1907. "We never want any of our customers to be in harm's way. It's an action that we would never ask him to take. He decided on his own to take this action."

Walker said that the bank's safety procedures have been validated by the bank's regulator.

He said the offer for lunch still stands.

my-thuan.tran@latimes.com

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