Remembering a hero, and a family’s gratitude toward witnesses

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ST. LOUIS – On October 7, 2002, Robert L. Bolden, Sr., and two other men attempted to rob the Bank of America located in the Halls Ferry Circle in St. Louis City.   Bolden, armed with a revolver, contacted Nathan Ley, 25, the security guard stationed outside one of the bank entrances.  Ley  refused to surrender his firearm to Bolden.  Bolden shot Ley in the jaw and incapacitated him.  Bolden then stepped back and as Ley was going down, Bolden shot him in the head a second time.  Ley died as a result of the second gunshot wound to his head. 

Investigators located three witnesses who identified Bolden as the shooter.  One of the witnesses also identified Bolden’s vehicle at the scene of the bank robbery.  Bolden’s DNA was recovered from a head covering seized at the crime scene.  The murder weapon was recovered outside Bolden’s residence. 

In May 2006, after a lengthy trial, a federal jury found Bolden guilty and recommended sentences of death for the offenses of attempted bank robbery resulting in the death of Nathan Ley, and for using a firearm to murder Nathan Ley. 

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During the sentencing phase of the proceedings, a witness at the scene with a law enforcement and military background recounted his efforts to comfort Nathan as he was dying on the parking lot of the bank.  The citizen comforted and prayed with Nathan.  The citizen, who was inside the bank during the shooting, also  said that Nathan was a hero for having kept the robbers out of the bank.  After the crime, the citizen kept a photograph of Nathan over his family’s fireplace because he and his wife viewed Nathan as their hero.  Bank of America also honored Nathan Ley by placing an engraved memorial stone at the bank that recognized him as a hero. 

On September 22, 2021, Bolden’s counsel and the U.S. Attorney’s Office argued one of Bolden’s appeals before the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.  Within the next week, Bolden died of natural causes while in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.

Tom, Linda, and Clint Ley recently released the following statement to the U.S. Attorney’s Office:  On October 7,  2002, our hearts were shattered when our son and Clint’s brother Nathan was shot and killed by Robert Bolden.  Nathan was kind, funny, responsible, and hard-working.  He wanted to go into law enforcement to help people and make life safer for everyone.  He was 25 years old.We will be forever grateful to the witnesses who identified his killer, the police who investigated, the U.S. Attorney’s Office who prosecuted the case … and the jurors who found justice for Nathan. We were fortunate that his killer was brought to justice.  Too many families are not so fortunate.  And until witnesses step forward and cases are tried, this terrible scourge of violence will continue.

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The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case. 

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