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NE robbery leaves shock

BY RACHEL CLARK | NORFOLK, Neb. | September 26, 2002

"It's just so hard to understand why something like that has to happen."

Norfolk, Neb. residents were shocked Thursday when they learned that three bank robbers opened fire and killed four employees and one customer.

"It's just so hard to understand why something like that has to happen," said one Christ Lutheran Church member. "There's always a reason but we just don't know what that is."

Just hours after the incident, all four suspects were arrested.

One of the victims of the attack was a Christ Lutheran Church member. Thursday afternoon, church members said the pain was too fresh to talk about.

"It's really hard for us right now," another church member said.

Stan Hankins, associate for the U.S. disaster response of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Team, said violence can have a significant impact on the faith-based community.

"It's going to depend on the magnitude of the event," he said. "When you're talking about public violence, you could be talking about a domestic disturbance ... to a disgruntled employee that goes in and kills three or four co-workers ... or Sept. 11 to a certain extent."

Hankins said the effects of violence also depend on the size of the community. In Norfolk, an agricultural community of almost 25,000, students weren't allowed to leave schools without adult escorts, and several banks closed.

"It may be a smaller incident involving fewer people in a large metro area that may largely go unnoticed," he said. "But if the same thing happens in a small town that's a closer-knit community, it would have a traumatic effect."

Even though Norfolk's Christ Lutheran Church is large, they still feel the pain of losing one of their flock to violence.

"It's just not fair because those families were innocent, and they didn't need to suffer," one member said. "I, personally, hope they catch them. I know He (God) has a plan for everything, but we can't understand that sometimes."

Public violence also wracked other worksites in the nation Thursday. In Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, a former State Health Department employee critically injured two employees by shooting them before shooting himself. Local law enforcement said the man was a disgruntled employee.

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