When State Trooper Thomas Yates visited the construction site where Christopher Larue works on Monday, he could tell the Lansdale resident was upset, investigators said Tuesday.
Larue, a suspect in a violent bank robbery that occurred hours earlier in Perkasie, had nowhere to run, and put up a fight when Yates tried to handcuff him, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest. He pulled out the same .32-caliber pistol he had used to steal $11,000 from QNB Bank, the affidavit said, and pointed it at the trooper.
“Do you want to … die today?” Larue screamed as he pulled the trigger, point-blank at Yates, the affidavit said. The gun, jammed and did not fire. And Larue was taken into custody, charged in both the robbery of the Perkasie bank and the attack on Yates.
Larue, 42, remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail. He has been charged with attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault, robbery, gun violations, and related offenses, court records show.
Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub, in a statement Tuesday, said the case was a “shining yet terrible example of the risk that our police officers willingly place themselves in to protect us every day.”
“This trooper literally came face to face with his would-be killer, and overcame the defendant in a battle for his own life,” Weintraub said. “I thank God that he and the bank employees were not harmed. They all got home safely to their families."
There was no indication Larue had hired an attorney.
Monday’s robbery was the sixth committed by Larue, prosecutors say: He pleaded guilty in 2009 to robbing five banks in Bucks and Montgomery Counties at gunpoint in less than a month in 2007, court records show. Larue was sentenced to 12 years in prison but was released early, in 2018, according to information from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The 2009 plea made him ineligible to possess the firearm that investigators say he pointed at the teller in Perkasie.
Witnesses told police a masked man with a gun entered the QNB Bank just after 8 a.m. Monday and announced a robbery, the affidavit said. He forced employees to open the bank’s vault and demanded cash from the tellers' drawers. The robber also collected all of the employees' cell phones and forced the workers to stand in the vault as he fled the scene.
Hours later, state troopers identified Larue as a suspect, and dispatched Yates to interview him at the construction site where he worked in Upper Merion. There, the trooper saw a backpack with Larue’s name on it that matched the description of the one used in the robbery.
After a brief struggle, during which Larue tried to shoot Yates, Larue was taken into custody.