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‘Gentleman Bandit’ Carried Note Apologizing To His Wife

December 8, 1987 GMT

DENVER (AP) _ The holdup man known as the Gentleman Bandit was carrying a note asking authorities to tell his wife ″I’m sorry″ when he was fatally shot during an attempted robbery in October, the FBI said Monday.

Melvin Dellinger’s note included his Denver telephone number and the place where his car was parked, said Robert Pence, agent in charge of the FBI’s Denver office.

″The note said, ’My wife knew nothing about this. Please tell her I’m sorry. Thanks,‴ Pence said at a news conference.

Authorities also displayed items they say Dellinger used to commit the third-highest number of robberies in FBI history: a dark blue cap, a brown wig, a silver 9mm semi-automatic pistol, a Seiko watch, a gray designer shoulder bag and a blue bicycle.

Dellinger often used a bicycle to make his getaway, and authorities believe the bicycle was stolen, Pence said.

Pence said authorities matched Dellinger’s watch to the one worn by the bandit in photographs taken by bank cameras during robberies.

The 34-year-old man was fatally shot Oct. 7 by a Denver policeman in the same bank he held up four years ago in the first of 27 Colorado robberies. The FBI said it used fingerprints and photographs to identify Dellinger as the Gentleman Bandit, who netted more than $350,000 in 49 bank heists across the nation since 1984.

The Gentleman Bandit got his nickname because he was ″reasonably friendly and courteous, but he liked to shove a large semi-automatic handgun″ in people’s faces, Pence said.

The gun was cocked and had a round in the chamber when Dellinger tried to rob a bank in suburban Littleton and encountered Officer Edwin Morales, who was off duty from the Denver force but working undercover at the bank, Pence said.

Morales said Monday a bank employee told him she thought the robber was the Gentleman Bandit.

″He stuck the gun in my face, and I had to shoot,″ Morales said, adding that he was about 12 feet from the bandit. ″He knew who I was.″

Morales and Margie Cooke, the bank’s security department manager, received plaques for their actions on Monday.

Pence said the bank had cooperated in an FBI project that attempted to identify banks the Gentleman Bandit might strike. Morales was working at the bank as part of that effort.

Pence said authorities have not accounted for the $350,000 Dellinger is believed to have taken from robberies in Washington, New York, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana and elsewhere. But he said much of the money could have been put toward Dellinger’s expensive lifestyle.

″He was an individual we know who traveled by air, used rental cars and stayed in good hotels,″ Pence said. ″He was a preferred customer at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. His was not a gaudy, not an executive lifestyle, but a good lifestyle.″

Authorities believe Dellinger was unemployed but that he told his wife he was a writer and was working on a book. They do not think Dellinger’s wife knew he was a bank robber.

At times, Dellinger had told neighbors he was a contractor for a carpet installation company or an advertising consultant, Pence said.

The FBI took about 20 computer disks from the house Dellinger rented in a modest Denver neighborhood. Pence said the disks may contain records concerning Dellinger’s whereabouts during the years when the banks were robbed.