Originally posted on GW Magazine By Menachem Wecker, MA ’09
A man with a backpack and wearing a black mask had just entered the PNC Bank in Neshannock Township, Pa., where Thomas Michael (“Mike”) Corcoran, a 42-year-old corrections officer, was waiting in line.
Noticing the masked man, Corcoran stepped back about five feet from the bank teller and reached for his pistol. He tended to conceal carry his Smith & Wesson .380 sans chambered round, so he loaded the bullets and snapped off the safety. Simultaneously, he scanned the room. The masked man, he determined, had no accomplice.
Ignoring Corcoran, BFA ’06, the bank robber went up to the teller—the one who’d been about to withdraw a large sum Corcoran needed to pay a contractor—and yelled, “Put all the money in the bag!” Corcoran was on his day off on Oct. 24, 2018, but his mind was working overtime. He saw the outline of the robber’s cell phone through his sweatpants. No weapon. Corcoran raised his own gun, which was now ready to discharge if absolutely necessary.
“Hey!” he yelled. “Put your hands in the air. Drop the bag and get on the ground. Keep your hands where I can see them!” Clearly frightened, the masked man complied. “I didn’t expect him, but he didn’t expect me,” Corcoran says. There might be a one in a million chance that someone robs a bank, but there must be a one in 10 million chance that “there’s someone with a gun in the bank you’re trying to rob.”
Of all the bank joints in all the towns in all of the world, the would-be robber walked unluckily into the one where he found himself on the business end of a former Marine’s pistol. But the whole incredible scenario, which led Corcoran’s 5-year-old daughter to think of him as a superhero, was more predictable than those far-out odds.
“It was so surreal, but, afterwards, it felt like of course at some point in my life I was going to stop a bank robbery,” Corcoran says. “There are just so many weird events that have happened in my life.”