ARLINGTON, Va. – Although CUNA Mutual estimates that the incidence of robbery at the nation's credit unions will be lower this year than in recent years, a credit union somewhere in the country is still robbed almost every day, and some individual robberies are so tragic that they raise the profile of the entire issue. The recent deadly robbery at Xerox FCU is one of those cases. On Tuesday, August 12, at about 9:30 in the morning, two credit union members were shot during the course of a robbery at the Webster, New York, branch of the $684 million Xerox Federal Credit Union, which is headquartered across the country at El Segundo, California. One of the credit union members shot, Raymond Batzel, 52, an employee of Xerox, was pronounced dead on the scene from a gunshot wound to the head. The other, Joseph Doud, 28, also a Xerox employee, was shot in the shoulder. Doud was taken to a local hospital, treated and released later in the week and is reported to be recovering at home. No credit union employees were hurt during the robbery and Xerox has donated $10,000 to a fund it established to collect donations for Batzel's wife and three children (See sidebar). Although neither the Federal Bureau of Investigation nor the Webster police would comment on the case or their investigation, an eyewitness to the robbery told a local news outlet that the two credit union members were shot as they tried to escape the scene. Doud was shot first as he entered the credit union branch, saw what was happening and apparently tried to run. Batzel was killed, according to the eyewitness who only identified herself as Cathy, after he saw Doud appear to make it out the door and made a run for the exit himself. Cathy then grabbed the member who was at her desk and dove with them underneath the desk. Once sheltered there she quietly called her daughter with her cell phone, telling her about the robbery and the shootings, she said. From underneath the desk Cathy reported that she was close enough to hear the robber repeatedly and nervously demand the tellers fill bags with money from their tills. Other eyewitnesses have corroborated Cathy's account and have added that Batzel was a regular, though not frequent, branch visitor. Guidelines of what to do in a robbery published by both federal authorities and CUNA Mutual urge credit union employees not to try to escape the robbers and instead to comply completely with all instructions and to get the robbers out of the credit union as quickly as possible. The credit union credited its employees with having done what they were supposed to do and thereby avoided injury; even as the death of one of its members has stunned and sickened the institution. "It was a great shock to the whole credit union. "Not just because we were robbed and robberies have been very, very rare but because someone died in our lobby," explained Jim Delyea, Marketing Director for the credit union. The credit union has 19 branches around the country, about half of which are open to the public, facing the street adjacent to Xerox corporation facilities. Part of the credit union's shock has come from robbery being a relatively rare event at its facilities, Delyea said. "I have been here six years," he said, "and I think in that entire time there have only been a handful of robberies." Pressure from the Press That relatively low number of assaults, combined with the death on the scene, left the credit union to some extent scrambling to deal with requests for information from authorities and a wide variety of media outlets. One of the lessons of this event has to be the need to build a media strategy into a crisis or emergency plan, Delyea explained. Robbery experts have cited the increase in the number of credit unions with community charters, which bring their branches onto more streets, with making credit unions the target of more robberies. They also dispute the notion that credit unions are necessarily being targeted because robbers consider credit unions more vulnerable. Interviews with captured robbers have repeatedly shown that robbers are not even aware if the facility they have attacked is a bank, thrift or credit union, the experts maintain. Given that reality, police in the local media and the credit union have speculated that the robber may have been a former employee of Xerox or of a vendor familiar with the Webster Xerox facility. The credit union branch is really not visible to the public from the street, Delyea confirmed, it is part of a Xerox campus which is open to the public but requires someone to actually enter to reach the credit union branch. "You kind of have to know where it is to know it is there," Delyea said, even as he acknowledged that the branch is among the credit union's busiest. Delyea would not comment on whether the credit union would approach Xerox about making the campus slightly less open to the public at large The police closed the branch as a crime scene and the facility was closed even longer by the power outage that struck much of New York State on the afternoon of Thursday, August 14 and most of the following Friday. The FBI acknowledged that the power outage cost the investigation valuable time and may have contributed to the lack of an arrest in the case as this issue goes to press. Bill Cheney, Xerox FCU CEO was actually in Rochester, New York, at the grand opening of another one of the credit union's branches when the fatal robbery took place only a few miles away. Cheney stayed in Rochester after the shooting to provide support and leadership in the crisis, Delyea said, even as in the hours immediately after an attack there may be little that an executive can do. Certainly in the wake of the robbery the credit union focuses on cooperating with the authorities in their investigation in any way they can, Delyea explained, "but having the CEO on the scene can provide a reassuring presence to the employees and members who have been assaulted by this event," he added. Part of what Cheney was likely to do involved coordinating the credit union's efforts to provide counseling for employees after the attack, Delyea said, adding that the credit union had gone as far as to mandate its employees attend the counseling sessions even if they don't take part. "We have said they don't have to participate but we do expect them to attend," Delyea said. Jim Vosberg, senior claims adjuster with CUNA Mutual, the company based in Madison, Wisconsin that insures 95% of the nation's credit unions, says the insurer gives a lot of leeway to credit unions when it comes to post-robbery counseling. "We recognize that often time is of the essence and so we allow the credit union to choose whatever counselors or approaches it thinks are most appropriate for post robbery counseling," Vosberg explained. Counselors credit unions choose do not necessarily have to have any recognized qualifications for counseling or even licenses, he explained. The insurance firm assumed the credit union would seek the best counselors available at the time. Often there can be difficulty finding available counselors locally, he added, so frequently the firm advises credit unions to have a counseling firm already chosen. In case they haven't already chosen one, or if their previous choice is unavailable, Vosberg said the firm advises credit unions to approach the police or emergency agencies in their areas for referrals. Although Vosberg acknowledged that credit unions that experience robberies, particularly robberies where a gun or other weapon is displayed, often have significant employee turnover, he declined to estimate what the employee turnover percentage might be. [email protected]

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