can be stranger than fiction!
Like the Santa Claus Bank Robbery on Dec. 23, 1927, in Cisco, Texas. It was one of Texas' most infamous crimes at the time,
and led to the largest manhunt ever seen in the state.
All of which sounds like fodder for a good crime novel: Four men steal a car in Wichita Falls, Texas … drive to Cisco … one of
the four puts on a Santa Claus suit en route … “Santa” enters the bank with the
other three men, they rob the bank.
In the meantime, though, one bank customer and her daughter escape out another door, run into an alley and scream for help. Not only police but a large number of Cisco citizens arrive in response – courtesy of a reward offered by the Texas Bank Association of $5,000 to anyone shooting a bank robber during a crime in the state.
Shooting began even before the bank robbers emerged. When they came out of the bank into the alley – herding bank customers and employees in front of them – it became a fire-fight. Most of the hostages escaped. Several hostages and two of the robbers were wounded, and two lawmen were shot, and later died of their wounds. The robbers kidnapped two of the hostages and drove away, leading to a prolonged chase and eventual arrest of the robbers.
All exciting stuff, and it would be a great book or movie!
Then there's the bits that a writer or scriptwriter might be tempted to omit, because the whole thing starts sounding like a comedy of errors:
The robbers neglected to check the gas tank of the car they initially stole for their heist. As they drove away from the bank with their hostages, followed by an angry mob, they realized …
They were almost out of gas.
They drove to the edge of town, and commandeered a car driven by a 14-year-old boy. He ran, the robbers transferred their hostages, one of their wounded – by then unconscious – cohorts and the bank money to the “new” car.
Then realized that the teenaged driver, who had run away, had taken the vehicle's keys with him!
With a mob of angry townspeople and law officers hot on their heels, they moved their hostages back into their first car, leaving the wounded robber behind. They drove until their original vehicle ran out of gas, then abandoned it and their hostages and took off on foot.
It was probably about this time they realized they had left the stolen bank loot behind, in the car they tried to steal from the teenager.
The mob following them from town found the loot and the wounded robber – who died that night in a Fort Worth hospital – and temporarily gave up the chase.
The surviving robbers stole another car and managed to evade searchers for a while, until they wrecked the third vehicle near Putnam.
Now down to three, two of them wounded, the threesome was ambushed by a Young County sheriff at South Bend as they tried to cross the Brazos River. Another car chase followed, ending in a shootout in a field, during which all three men were reported wounded by a Texas Ranger. The trio escaped into the woods.
Two of their pursuers were wounded by accidental discharge of their own weapons.
Not usually the way it plays out in the movies ...