Bank Employees are Held at Gunpoint

DECEMBER 30, 2003 -- Posted at: 11:00pm

NEWARK, AR -- Newark. Not many crimes are committed in this town of 12 hundred people.

On Tuesday, circumstances would be much different.

"He was upset over the land, and the foreclosure of the land, and the fact that they were going to sell it today at 10 o'clock," said Captain Bill Lindsey, a deputy at the Independence County Sheriff's Department.

A customer was holding employees of Merchants and Planters Bank at gunpoint.

Captain Lindsey explained, "He was holding one hostage in the bank lobby behind the tellers' cages, and another one inside the room there behind her."

Charlene Morrison, a teller, could be seen through the teller window at the back of the bank standing near Dennis Tarpley, the 55 year old man holding Morrison and one other person hostage.

Tarpley was calm, but told Lindsey on the phone and through the teller window speaker that he wanted to talk with bank president Jim Gowen, Junior who was in Newport.

Jim Gowen, Junior, "It was the longest drive between Newport to Newark that I've ever been through to be honest."

After about 45 minutes of negotiations, Charlene Morrison talked Dennis Tarpley into laying down his gun and walking outside.

"We have security training on an annual basis," added Gowen, "and thanks to that our employees did an excellent job."

Not long after Tarpley was escorted out these doors, law enforcement officers began questioning workers about what happened. Soon after that, they were told to go home.

"Miss Morrison, she was the key to this," explained Lindsey. "She remained calm, and she talked with him all the time when he was here; kept him calmed down."

No one was injured. Safety was Jim Gowen, Junior's main concern.

"I think you know we just all will be saying a prayer of thanks tonight for that."

Dennis Tarpley has been charged with kidnapping, terroristic threatening and aggravated assault. He's being held in the Independence County jail on a $75,000 bond. He should make his first appearance in court sometime next week.