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Man shot while foiling bank robbery sues bank

March 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The suspected serial bank robber dubbed the 'Sport Bike Bandit' is in custody thanks in part to a customer who helped capture him and was shot in the struggle. But Wednesday, that hero announced he's suing the bank.In less than two weeks Rich Camp has gone from hero to plaintiff. He alleges that a Farmers and Merchants Bank branch should be held liable for the robbery that ended up with him getting shot in the leg.

On March 5, an alleged serial bank robber entered the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Long Beach. He was armed and he threatened to kill customers and tellers. That's when Camp, 39, sprung into action. He grabbed the bank robber from behind, tackled him to the ground, and was shot in the process.

The bullet is still lodged in his leg. Camp, who is a general contractor, has not been able to work since.

Camp and his attorney allege that the bank failed to provide a safe environment for its customers. Their lawsuit was filed Wednesday and it seeks unspecified damages.

"It just sort of happened," said Camp. "You know, I think a lot of that is what you're trained up with, you know, it's sort of like when coaches, they coach you all day long so when the day comes you don't even think -- you just do. So that's what I've sort of been raised with and I mean things that I could think off the top of my head, I wasn't really like going 'Oh no, the bank's going to lose, you know, five, ten-thousand bucks.' That definitely wasn't the thought that went through my head. My thought was 'I know these people, I know myself, I want to come home to my family and I want them to come home to their families.'"

"I think morally and legally, the bank's on the hook here," said Eric Dubin, Camp's attorney. "They should've stepped up and taken care of this hero, but they didn't. But legally the FBI had warned them in 2008 about this robbery spree. There had been eight robberies in the area and they did nothing. There's been reports of their employees being terrified to go to work. They had no glass partition, no security doors, and the one security guy was playing around in the parking lot when this whole thing went down."

Robin Williams, a representative of Farmers and Merchants Bank, released a statement:

"The bank immediately contacted Mr. Camp and the other injured customer offering to pay all of their medical bills. We are surprised and disappointed that Mr. Camp has decided to file a claim against the bank for injuries inflicted by the person who attempted to rob us. We are in full compliance with our safety measures and our record is above the industry norm."