05/26/2004

Bank Security Officer Dies in Gun Battle - Follow-up

Officer Down: Kenny Anderson - [Tulsa, Oklahoma]

Here is a follow up story about Kenny Anderson who died while protecting bank employees during a botched robbery attempt.

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Security Guard Died As He Lived, Protecting Others

By Matthew Brady, The Oklahoman

Kenny Anderson believed in duty, in honor, in protecting the innocent from evil.

That's why he left Bixby High School to join the Air Force and why he joined Professional Protection and Investigative Services as a security guard.

He lived, and was prepared to die, for moments such as 3:45 p.m. Monday when two men brandishing a shotgun and pistol walked into MidFirst Bank in Tulsa.

Anderson, 36, had plenty to live for, a Saturday wedding, a 14-year-old daughter, a tightknit extended family in Bixby -- but the instinct of self-preservation gave way to a lifelong habit of honor.

Posted in the bank lobby, Anderson stepped between the armed men and the customers and employees.

Gunfire erupted.

Anderson dropped, struck by a bullet to the head and at least one shotgun blast to his chest.

But the would-be robbers never got past him, and they left bleeding from wounds from Anderson's gun.

The blood trail helped guide police to two suspects within hours of the attempted robbery.

First-degree murder and armed robbery charges were filed Tuesday against Wade Greely Lay, 43, also known as Wade Grady Lay; and his son, Christopher Douglas Lay, 19.

The elder Lay remained hospitalized Tuesday in Tulsa. His son was transferred from a Sapulpa hospital to one in Tulsa.

A sense of duty
Anderson's oldest sister, Kim Tryon, said her brother wouldn't have changed a thing about Monday.

If people were in danger, Kenny Anderson wanted to be the one to protect them.

"He did what he was paid to do -- protect those people at that bank," she said.

"He'd give anybody the shirt on his back if they asked him. He'd give them his last dime if they needed it."

Anderson grew up in Bixby, the youngest of three children and the only boy.

A skin disease dogged him throughout childhood, resulting in his being taught at home. The disease went into remission, but he fell behind in his studies. He dropped out of high school, took his GED and joined the Air Force.

His father had served in the Army, and Anderson wanted to continue the tradition of service.

But that dream, like so many in his life, was not to be.

The skin disease returned, and within a year the Air Force gave him a medical discharge.

"He didn't want to come home," Tryon said. "He wanted to stay."

He worked as a janitor and then as a bartender. Serving drinks proved to be a good outlet for his compassion and ability to listen.

The job eventually led to him meeting his fiancee, Kelly Ellenburg.

A mutual friend wanted Ellenburg to go to the bar and meet Anderson, but "I never did much going to bars," Ellenburg said. The friend decided that if Ellenburg wouldn't go to the bartender, she would bring the bartender to her.

"She brought him over to the house ... we were friends at first and it just developed into a romance and we've been going ever since."

On Monday, she bought plane tickets to Las Vegas, where they were to be married this weekend.

And then her world collapsed when she learned that the man she loved for his generosity had given his life for a handful of strangers in a bank lobby.

"We were going to fly away ...," she said. "He was basically my whole life."

Funeral services will be Friday. Time and place are pending. Arrangements are being handled by Bixby Funeral Home.


Contributing: State correspondent Larry Levy

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