As Jeremy Brock stood at the counter at iQ Credit Union just before noon Tuesday, his focus was on depositing the $6,000 cash in his hand. He chatted with the teller, explaining how the money was from a fundraiser for a friend who has been in a coma since Jan. 15.
He had no idea the man standing to his left was robbing the place.
“I’m always head-on-a-swivel,” Brock said. “Unless I’m getting robbed, apparently.”
Brock stood 3 feet from the robber, stacks of fundraiser cash spread across the counter, as the man allegedly slipped a note demanding cash to another teller. Later, that teller told Brock the man was eyeing the fundraiser money.
The robber left without Brock’s deposit, however.
That might have been because of how Brock looked. The tugboat captain trainee is 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 250 pounds; the robber — described as a black man wearing a black cap, a black shirt with white lettering and a black hooded sweatshirt — was only 5 feet 5 inches tall.
Also, Brock had taken a break from working in his backyard to deposit the money and was still wearing his mud boots, basketball shorts and a poncho from Mexico.
“I looked like hell,” he said.
It’s also possible, Brock said, that the robber may have overheard him talking about his friend, Vancouver resident Luke Ashe, and the community effort to raise money for his medical care. The $6,000 was nearly half of the money raised at a Feb. 24 auction Brock spent weeks organizing.
Ashe, 27, remains in an unexplained coma. Family and friends continue to pray for Ashe to wake up, Brock told the teller.
A sudden change in the teller’s facial expression distracted Brock from his story.
“I’m talking to the teller, and I just see this panicked look on her face,” Brock said.
He asked the teller if she was OK, if she needed anything. The teller told Brock everything was fine.
Moments later, the robber walked out of the building with money from the bank. Credit union employees covered the counter with computer paper and asked Brock if he’d gotten a good look at the guy.
“I said, ‘Why? Do you want me to go tackle him?’ ” Brock said. “They said, ‘No, we need it for a description. He just robbed the place.’ ”
Brock hadn’t even noticed the man standing next to him.
While he couldn’t help bank employees or police, Brock said he’s relieved the situation ended as it did.
“I’m happy that nobody was hurt,” he said. “I’m happy that all the hard work and donations we received didn’t go to some robber.”
Ashe’s friends and family are still accepting donations to help pay for Ashe’s medical expenses. Donations can be made to the “Luke Ashe Donation Fund” at any iQ Credit Union.
“Preferably, they go there on a robbery-free day,” Brock said.