NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A retired law enforcement officer in New Jersey is accused of robbing a bank.

As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, at the Parsippany Senior Center the news hit with the force of a slam shot.

“Absolutely surprised, shocked. He’s a nice guy, very gentle mannered, helpful,” said Jean Lee.

The former president of the table tennis club at the senior center — 70-year-old retired Essex County Sheriff’s Deputy Harry Schnitzer — is charged with robbing a Boonton bank on Wednesday.

Schnitzer is accused of handing the teller a note, claiming to have a gun. He allegedly left with an undisclosed amount of money.

He was arrested in his room at a Parsippany hotel after someone recognized him in the surveillance pictures released by police.

It’s a crime that has shocked a quiet community.

“One never knows, one never knows what’s going through that man’s mind,” one man said.

“Desperate people do desperate things, don’t they? And it’s sometimes desperate times these days,” said bank customer Sheila Donovan.

Earlier in April, Schnitzer appeared to be desperate. In a text message to a former girlfriend he said “I have no money and am homeless. Maybe I will end this (expletive) life.”

Yet records show Schnitzer collected a police pension of almost $40,000 a year.

A former girlfriend told Aiello she had no idea why the ex-cop was constantly short of cash.

His friends at the senior center said they thought he seemed secure in his retirement.

“People had lunch with him, he gave rides to people. (Did you know he had money trouble, borrowing money from people?) No, no absolutely shocking,” Lee said.

And so his money troubles continue. Schnitzer remains in jail, unable to raise money to make bail.

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