A thin man in a beanie cap, dark clothing and sunglasses pushed a black backpack across the bank counter and demanded money from Key Bank teller Jim Nicholson in Lower Queen Anne.
Nicholson threw the bag to the floor, lunged toward the robber and demanded to see a weapon. Surprised, the would-be bank robber backed up and then bolted for the door, with Nicholson on his heels.
Nicholson, 30, chased the man for several blocks before knocking him to the ground with the help of a passer-by. Nicholson then held him until police arrived.
That was Tuesday.
On Thursday, Nicholson was fired.
Washington State consistently ranks in the top 10 nationally in bank robberies. What Nicholson did was all but unheard of. Bank tellers are trained to get robbers out the door as quickly as possible and are advised against being a hero over money.
Nicholson says he gets that. To a point.
“They tell us that we’re just supposed to comply, but my instincts kicked in and I did what’s best to stop the guy,” said Nicholson, “I thought if I let him go he would rob more banks and cause more problems.”
When the man came into the bank, at 434 Queen Anne Ave. N., dressed in a knit cap on one of the hottest days of the year, Nicholson says he was immediately uneasy. The suspicious-looking man walked in and out of the bank, then got in the teller line, then stepped out of line.
When he finally approached the counter, he walked toward Nicholson and said, “This is a ransom, fill the bag with money,” Nicholson said.
Hearing the word “ransom,” Nicholson stopped for a second and asked to see the man’s gun.
The man said, “It’s a verbal ransom.” Nicholson then lunged over the counter at him.
“My intent was to grab his glasses off his face, or him,” Nicholson said.
The would-be robber, a 29-year-old transient, has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for theft and robbery, according to court records. When he was arrested Tuesday he was being supervised by the state Department of Corrections.