A body carried out at the scene

Bank shooter: Hero turned villain

Former co-workers, neighbors relate of disturbing signs from man awarded medal for bravery who later killed four people in Beersheba bank

Eleven years ago, two terrorists opened fire in all directions at a military base in Southern Israel. They killed a number of soldiers. Itamar Alon, a security officer in the south, happened to be nearby. He ran to the scene, shot one of the terrorists and brought him down. His actions saw him awarded the Beersheba bravery medal, which he received from the previous mayor Yaakov Terner. Alon is also the man who on Monday perpetrated a massacre at a Beersheba branch of Bank Hapoalim that claimed the lives of four people before turning the gun on himself after his ATM card was blocked due to a debt of NIS 6,000 ($1,640).


Alon, who was in his 40s, started working as a security guard in Beersheba after he was discharged from military service. About year after the incident that awarded him the medal, complaints started to pour in against his interpersonal skills and his conduct at the workplace. A co-worker said he showed little consideration for his colleagues, was extremely inflexible in his positions and given to aggression.


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The watermark event leading up to his termination came as he appeared at a local school on Purim donning a faux suicide belt. A teacher who spotted the unorthodox costume argued with Alon, and the conversation escalated to threats. He was sacked from his job following the incident and remained unemployed thereafter.


He filed an appeal against unlawful termination; however a judge ruled that his poor people skills warranted a sacking.


(צילום: אוהד צויגנברג)

Scene of incident (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


The house where he lived with his parents, spending most of his days idly sitting on the balcony, is near the site of the carnage. His neighbors register disbelief at his actions saying, however, that he was not without peculiarities.


One neighbor said Alon "was a strange person, a real weirdo. You never knew what to expect of him." Another said "he was a nice guy. He had a lovely singing voice and he used to sing on the balcony every morning. I knew he wasn't working but I didn't know he was in financial trouble."


Initial reports said Alon sought to settle a NIS 6,000 debt at the bank this morning. After bank clerks refused to meet his demands, he returned to the offices to carry out the carnage which ended only with his own death.


Four persons – three men and a woman – were killed in the incident, which at first was reported to be a heist. After he released a woman he held as a hostage, Alon put an end to his life.



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פרסום ראשון: 05.20.13, 20:09