Bartender’s 9-1-1 call leads to armed bank robber arrest in Steiner

Adam Duntley, bartender at Frog & the Bull in Steiner Ranch, made a phone call to police which led to the arrest of an armed robbery suspect who pulled out a gun at the Chase Bank hours earlier. LYNETTE HAALAND


Bartender Adam Duntley called police to report a customer who looked out of place at Frog & the Bull in Steiner Ranch on Jan. 16. Little did he know the customer — who was wearing a bathrobe and sweatpants and had dried blood around his chin — pulled out a gun and demanded money nearly seven hours earlier at Chase Bank a few blocks away.   

Duntley recalled what happened in a span of less than 10 minutes last Thursday night that led to the arrest of Richard Graham, 49, of Austin.

“At approximately 7:45 p.m. a gentleman entered the bar. He made eye contact indicating he needed service,” Duntley said. “I approached him. He looked out of place.”

Duntley said he noticed lots of tattoos and there were obvious gang tattoos displayed on his face, neck and head area.

“He had dried blood on his face around his nose and mouth and chin,” he said. “He was concealing something under the bathrobe he was wearing. He had no shirt on and wore black sweatpants.”

Duntley said the suspicious looking person kept his hand underneath his bathrobe.

“I asked if he needed something to drink. He said he just needed to borrow a phone… ‘Your phone or a house phone,’ he said,” Duntley recalled.

Duntley’s expression showed concern and Graham offered the explanation that he swerved off the road and got cut up in a minor accident.

“That’s when I kind of realized I needed to take action,” Duntley said. “One) I needed to remove him from the restaurant and two) do it without alarming anyone.”

So Duntley picked up his cell phone like he was going to let Graham use it but dialed 9-1-1 first, and then pretended like he was receiving a call but instead started the conversation with police dispatch. The operator recognized the situation and stated, “Someone there doesn’t need to know you’re talking with me.” 

Duntley indicated to Graham that he needed to take a few steps away for his phone call. “He nodded at me that he’ll wait.” 

Out of earshot, Duntley spoke freely to the 9-1-1 operator telling her of the situation. She asked for a description of the customer and then asked if “somewhere on his face and neck did he have a tattoo of a spiderweb?”

When the answer was “yes”, the operator warned Duntley to “stay as far away as he can.” Police were immediately notified.

“I didn’t realize until then that the man we were dealing with was the suspect in the bank robbery,” said Duntley. He heard about the bank robbery down the street and saw the heavy police presence in Steiner when he got to work hours earlier.

Around 1:15 p.m. that afternoon, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office received multiple 9-1-1 calls from the Chase Bank at RM 620 and Quinlan Park Road. Callers reported a man walked into the bank, pulled out a gun, and demanded money. Deputies and assisting officers were on scene in less than two minutes, according to TCSO’s Kristen Dark.

Witnesses reported the man ran into a heavily wooded area behind the shopping center. Deputies and officers immediately set up a perimeter and started searching. TCSO K-9 and drone units were called to assist, but they did not locate him, Dark stated.

Schools in the area were notified as a precaution and on lockdown. Deputies were stationed at campuses and when school was let out, officers followed buses through the area to ensure student safety.

Travis County Parks Police, Lakeway Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, LCRA Rangers and the FBI all assisted in the search efforts. 

After nearly four hours of looking for the suspect, search efforts were scaled down. Deputies with the TCSO Special Response Team remained in the area that evening in case the suspect turned up, Dark stated.

Then the 9-1-1 call came in at 7:47 p.m. from Duntley. As he was still on the call with the operator, Duntley saw that Graham was borrowing another patron’s phone. The customer must have heard his request earlier and offered it to him. 

“He made the phone call he needed to make and walked outside and started pacing the length of the parking lot,” said Duntley, who immediately moved to the door at Frog & the Bull and locked it. He watched Graham from inside while he was waiting for his ride.

Duntley suggested to the operator that the first responders come in discretely. Lake Travis Fire Rescue was first on the scene but parked across the street until law enforcement arrived at the restaurant at 4300 N Quinlan Park Rd.

Graham was waiting on the side of the building close to the patio when police arrived and approached him. He did not flee. He was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery, a first degree felony.

Duntley said it took about 10 minutes from when Graham walked into Frog & the Bull until he was arrested.

“Because of my experience in the bar industry, this is not the first time I’ve had to call police on a strange individual,” said Duntley, who is from South Austin. 

He has managed the bar at Frog & the Bull since it opened in early November. The chef and owner is a good friend of his. 

“I didn’t realize the magnitude of the situation until I got response from the public about what I did,” Duntley said. “People were pointing out the severity of the situation and pointing out all of the variables, that thankfully it ended so peacefully.”

On Jan. 16, Travis County Sheri ‘s O ce arrested Richard Graham, 49, of Austin and charged him with aggravated robbery for pulling out a gun and demanding money at Chase Bank in Steiner Ranch that afternoon