Matthew Rogers calmly walked into a Bank of America May 31, allegedly pulled out a gun and started ordering employees and customers around.
He chose the wrong bank.
One day earlier, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Eddie Peoples flew into the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport with his wife and four young children.
Peoples is from Bradenton and his wife from Sarasota, but the family now lives on a base in Italy. They were here to visit Peoples’ sick father.
The staff sergeant had promised his 4- and 6-year-old sons that he would take them fishing.
The three were on their way to catch some fish at about 3 p.m. May 31. Peoples just needed to make a quick stop at the bank first.
Once inside the Bank of America at 3600 Bee Ridge Road, they saw Rogers enter and pull out the gun.
“It was surreal,” said Peoples, during a June 1 Sheriff’s Office ceremony commending his bravery. “The gunman came in demanding things. I could tell it was real, but my kids thought it was a joke, so they started giggling. And that brought attention to us.”
Rogers, 34, allegedly walked up to Peoples’ children and pointed a gun at his older son.
“He said, ‘If anyone does anything, the kid gets it,’” recalled Peoples.
Rogers allegedly took money from four tellers and left the bank.
The 34-year-old has been in the Army for more than 10 years. He’s done three tours in Iraq. One thing he tells his children each time he leaves for duty is that he’s “going to get the bad guys.”
When Rogers fled the bank, Peoples was once again going after the bad guy.
He made sure his kids were safe and then ran outside, got in his rented van and drove after Rogers, who was in his own vehicle.
Peoples blocked Rogers’ escape, and the alleged bank robber rammed the van.
Rogers then got out of his own vehicle and pointed the gun at Peoples, who quickly approached the alleged gunman, grabbed his wrist that held the weapon and twisted it back. He then clenched Rogers’ neck in a half Muay Thai hold and got him on the ground.
“By then, a deputy arrived, but that was bad, because I was holding the bag of money and the gun,” joked Peoples.
The deputy quickly sorted out the situation and placed Rogers under arrest. The gun turned out to be a fake.
Peoples walked back into the bank, and his kids asked him if he got the bad guy.
“I did,” said Peoples, and everyone inside the bank started cheering.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].