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Allen Lane GRIFFIN Jr.





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery? - Sex-for-money relationship?
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: March 11, 1997
Date of birth: 1976
Victims profile: Stanley R. Pijanowski III, 52; James L. Isom, 25, and Stanley Hays, 77
Method of murder: Shooting (12 gauge shotgun)
Location: Detroit, Illinois, USA
Status: Shot dead by the police the same day

Depressed over a "domestic situation," Allen, 21, went to a Comerica bank branch in suburban Detroit and killed three people before being shot dead by the police.

At first authorities thought the March 11, 1997 incident was a failed bank robbery. Later they reclassified it as a random act of violence.

Allen, dressed in customary mass-murdering fatigues, entered the bank and shouted, "Where's the money?" Then he forced everyone to lie on the floor and asked them to recite the Lord's Prayer. As he recited it with them he started shooting.

Inside the bank he killed Stanley R. Pijanowski III, 52, assistant vice president and branch manager, and James L. Isom, 25, retail services representative.

Once outside, the gunman took hostage a man on his way to the ready teller. Police said they tried to talk him into releasing his hostage, but instead he shot him to death.

Then police killed the Allen with a barrage of 200 bullets.

More than 24 hours after the rampage, a bank janitor found an unarmed security guard cowering in the bank's boiler room. Police said Virene Brown was found frightened and dehydrated.

Apparently the gunman had put his shotgun to her head and said he was going to kill her. Somehow, when he was distracted, she fled to the basement and stayed there for more than a day.


Bank killigs remain a mistery suits bring settlements but motive not certain

By David Ashenfelter - Detroit Free Press (MI)

Friday, July 2, 1999

Despite two years of litigation, the cause of a 1997 shooting that left four people dead at a Comerica Bank branch on Detroit's east side remains a mystery.

Lawyers for the victims assert the killings were prompted by the breakup of an alleged sex-for-money relationship between branch manager Stanley Pijanowski III of Bloomfield Township and the gunman, Allen Griffin Jr. of Detroit, who both died in the incident. But as one lawyer in the case acknowledged, proving it has been difficult.

The lawyer, Cy Weiner of Southfield, said two of Pijanowski's acquaintances have recanted statements that Pijanowski had received threats from Griffin and feared for his safety.

"There's a mountain of evidence pointing toward the cause of this tragic event," Weiner said Thursday. "But there's little motivation for the key witnesses to step forward. Their motivation is to bury the story and protect Stanley Pijanowski's memory."

Weiner said he hopes someone with reliable information about the relationship will come

Despite the problems, Weiner said he has still managed to win payments for his clients.

In one case, he said, he recently settled a lawsuit against Guardsmark Inc., the bank's security firm, for hundreds of thousands of dollars to be paid to the estate of James Isom, 25, who was killed in the shooting.

The settlement will be submitted soon to Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Callahan. Comerica and Guardsmark have settled two other lawsuits for nominal amounts.

At about 10 a .m. on March 11, 1997, Griffin, 21, a car wash employee, walked into the Comerica branch at Duchess and Morang with a 12 gauge shotgun.

By then, Griffin, who lived nearby with his uncle, had already shot and wounded a 23-year-old jogger, stolen a Volvo and driven to the bank.

Once inside, Griffin ordered everyone onto the floor and began shooting up the customer service area. Isom, a customer service representative, was the first to die. Griffin then walked into the office of Pijanowski, 53, and shot him in the head, apparently without saying a word.

After shooting assistant branch manager Lisa Griffin, 38, in the hand, and making security guard Virene Brown lead terrified witnesses and customers in the Lord's Prayer, Griffin walked out. He grabbed customer Stanley Hays, 77, and shot him dead before police killed Griffin in a hail of gunfire.

The shootings resulted in at least six lawsuits in Wayne County Circuit Court. The lawsuits, filed by employees, customers or their estates, claimed Comerica, Guardsmark or both failed to provide adequate security.

Although the bank had several robberies in the months before the shooting and employees had expressed concern about their safety, Comerica or Guardsmark failed to take adequate preventive steps, the lawsuits said. The bank should have armed its guards, assigned more to the bank and enclosed the customer service area with bulletproof glass, the suits said.

Several suits were especially critical of Brown, saying the security guard saw Griffin get out of the car with a weapon, yet made no attempt to lock the doors of the bank or cry out so customers or workers could flee to the safety of the bulletproof teller cage. When Brown spotted Griffin, she put up her hands and got on the floor, witnesses said.

Lawyers for Comerica and Guardsmark declined to comment because of pending litigation.

But they said in court papers that there was no way to foresee or prevent the incident. Comerica said Michigan law does not require businesses to protect its customers and employees from random criminal acts committed by third parties or provide a 100-percent crime-free environment.

Brown, who was so traumatized she spent the night hiding in the basement, said Thursday that there was no way to lock the doors or warn anyone because Griffin was watching her as he approached the bank.

"There wasn't enough time to get to the doors and had I cried out, he would have killed me and the other people in the bank," said Brown, who hasn't returned to work and remains on disability. "There wasn't anything I could do. What can you do in three seconds?"

Brown also is suing Comerica, saying Pijanowski was on the phone with Griffin on the morning of the shooting and should have told her to lock the doors. Her lawyer, Paul Condino of Southfield, said he's still trying to corroborate the claims.

"It's tough because the only two people who really know what happened aren't living now," Condino said Thursday. "I think it's an uphill battle."

Condino, like Weiner, said he's convinced that Griffin killed Pijanowski because their relationship soured. Weiner said his investigators interviewed dozens of witnesses who said Pijanowski and Griffin had a relationship.

Griffin and Pijanowski apparently met at the Jax Kar Wash on South Hunter in Birmingham, where Griffin worked before getting another job at his uncle's car wash in Detroit.

The best witnesses, Weiner said, were two of Pijanowski's gay acquaintances who said Pijanowski had received threats from Griffin after breaking off a sex-for-money relationship. But both men later provided a Comerica lawyer with affidavits repudiating earlier statements.

One of the men said in a deposition that he had been threatened by other gays for talking about Pijanowski's involvement with Griffin. Weiner said he thinks the men recanted to protect Pijanowski's memory.


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