It is a shame these creative, intelligent, young men fired shots at the police and then died in a shootout.Â Bank robbery is a crime, no matter if Santa Claus, a Leprechaun or Charles Manson is the perp. Shooting at the police is bad and will get you killed, on the spot or perhaps later after a stint on death row.
I stumbled onto the story of Cotton and Skinner while researching a leprechaun sighting. Ha ha ha Leprechaun robs bank! That tangent lead me to Santa robs bank and Darth Vader robs banks.
I was shocked to discover Cotton and Skinner were the Leprechaun AND Santa Claus bank robbers. The story got deeper and sadder as facts revealed that they fired shots while fleeing the Leprechaun heist and died after a chase and a shootout.
Below are links to video of their story, with comments from close friends as well as a horror film that Cotton helped make.
Brentwood HS Grads Killed In Police Shootout
Families Remember Sons, Not Costumed Robbers
March 19, 2010Â |Â www.wsmv.com
GALLATIN, Tenn. — The man who staged a St. Patrick’s Day bank robbery in a leprechaun costume and died during a police shootout also held up a bank three days before Christmas in a Santa suit, police said Thursday.
Investigators in the Nashville suburb of Gallatin said information from the FBI linked David Christopher Cotton, 20, of Brentwood to the December robbery.
The last footage of Cotton and Skinner is video from the dashboard camera of a Gallatin police vehicle. But that’s unlikely what friends and family will remember most.
The two men were both 20 years old and graduates of Brentwood High School. Skinner was a junior at Western Kentucky University, majoring in meteorology. He had an internship at a Nashville television station last year.
Cotton can be seen in amateur horror films on YouTube. He had his own Web site, on which he said he “likes new ideas” and is “always looking for adventure.” On the About Me page, he describes himself as “clearheaded … able to think clearly and act intelligently.”
His parents and siblings said in a statement issued through a family friend that Cotton was a “sunshine person.”
“To us, he was a warm, loving and thoughtful son and brother. He was quick with a smile and a helping hand. His intelligence and creativity were wonderful and enjoyable. His friendliness made him a joy to be around.”
Jill Skinner, Ryan Skinner’s older sister, said the family wasn’t ready to talk about his death.
“We are absolutely shocked and bewildered, and we just want to leave it at that,” she said Friday.
According to Sgt. Bill Storment of Gallatin police, a call was received just before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday regarding a bank robbery at the First State Bank located at Belvedere Drive and Nashville Pike.
Police said Cotton, dressed as a leprechaun, brandished a gun and left with an undisclosed amount of money. He then escaped in a car with Skinner behind the wheel.
A short time later, Gallatin police found the car along Walnut Crest Drive. As an officer approached, police said, the vehicle fled and a pursuit ensued.
Dash-cam video shows shots being fired from the getaway car at police. Two police vehicles were hit, disabling one of them.
Gallatin police and Sumner County Sheriffâ€™s deputies continued the pursuit along Red River Road and Bradford Drive, where the two suspects ditched their vehicle and fled into a nearby field.
Police said the Cotton and Skinner then fired shots at the pursuing officers, who returned fire.
Both suspects suffered fatal gunshots wounds and were pronounced dead at the scene. Gallatin police said on Thursday that Cotton fatally shot himself, and Skinner was later shot and killed by police.
Money was recovered from the suspectsâ€™ vehicle.
The FBI Bank Robbery Task Force has linked both Cotton and Skinner to a robbery at a Nashville SunTrust bank in December. In that case, the robber dressed in a Santa Claus suit.
Police have since recovered a Santa suit from Cotton’s residence.
Investigators aren’t sure if Cotton acted alone in December because there was no getaway driver spotted during that robbery.
Cotton previously had a scrape with the law and was serving a three-year probation sentence for burglarizing two Brentwood schools over a three-day period.
Cotton and another man, who was not involved in the St. Patrick’s Day robbery, stole more than $25,000 worth of computers, cameras and other electronic equipment from Crockett Elementary and Woodland Middle School.
Some of the more bizarre items taken in the thefts include a large, stuffed Clifford the Big Red Dog and a yellow traffic-control light, Brentwood Police Capt. Tommy Walsh said.
Police eventually discovered many of the electronic items on sale on eBay and recovered them from the homes of Cotton and his accomplice, Christopher Ververis.
Friend Shocked By Robbery, Deaths
Sean Staggs grew up with Cotton and Skinner. Staggs said he was best friends with Cotton, hung out with him on Monday and they spoke on Tuesday. What happened Wednesday, Staggs said, is a mystery.
â€œI don’t know what they could’ve been thinking,â€ said Staggs. “None of us saw this coming, the sheer surprise and confusion of it all.”