A man who wrote a best-selling novel about his past as a bank robber and married a leading Canadian poet is back behind bars after 12 years of freedom, charged with a bungled bank robbery that triggered a chase and a shootout.
Stephen Reid, 49, faces 10 charges--including attempted murder and armed robbery--following his arrest along with another man in the attempted daytime robbery Wednesday of a bank in Victoria, British Columbia.
Reid, who in the 1970s was on the FBI's most-wanted list, had stayed out of trouble since his release from a British Columbia prison in 1987 and had become a respected figure in local literary circles.
His wife, acclaimed poet Susan Musgrave, told the Vancouver Sun, "I'm completely in a state of shock. He lived a larger-than-life life, but we never expected this. . . . He's obviously gone off some deep end into a private hell."
Musgrave and Reid, who have two children, married in 1986 while Reid was still in prison. She edited his first novel, "Jackrabbit Parole," a semi-autobiographical account of bank robbers that he wrote behind bars.
Reid served more than 14 years in prison, in three segments interrupted by two escapes.
He was a leading member of the so-called Stopwatch Gang, which was implicated in more than 100 bank robberies in Canada and the United States. The gang was known for its precision, customarily completing its heists in about 90 seconds.
Reid, in a television interview a few years ago, said he remembered his crime days with a degree of pride.
"You look back at things and you say, 'Yeah, you know, I did it. . . . I did it better than anybody's been doing it.' "
He was one of two people arrested Wednesday following the bank robbery in Victoria. His alleged accomplice, Allan McCallum, 30, also faces charges of attempted murder and armed robbery.
By chance, police were on their way to the bank to deal with an unrelated complaint about a panhandler when they saw two men entering a getaway car. One officer said he was shot at as he gave chase on a motorcycle.
Pedestrians ducked for cover as the men drove through a tourist-filled park, firing with a shotgun. The men took refuge in an apartment building but gave up after a standoff that lasted more than five hours.
Reid has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment, and his next court appearance is set for June 23.
CAPTION: Stephen Reid, ironically as a security guard in the 1998 film "Four Days."