Texas bank standoff ends, hostages free

By Bruce Nichols

HOUSTON (BestGrowthStock) – A hostage situation in a bank in Pearland, Texas ended on Friday with the capture of a last suspect and the release of two hostages he was holding, police Lt. Onesimo Lopez said.

“At this point, the suspect has been taken into custody. The two hostages that he was holding have been released,” he said in remarks broadcast on local television.

Three more people were hiding in a closet in the bank and taken out by a SWAT unit that entered the building after the suspect had left and been taken into custody.

Police had been communicating with the three by text messaging during the crisis and told them to stay put, according to local broadcaster KTRK.

As many as 10 people were thought to have been in the Chase Bank branch when two would-be robbers entered in late morning.

Gunshots were fired early in the attempted robbery of the bank in Pearland, about 16 miles southeast of Houston, but only one individual, a bank manager allegedly beaten by the suspects, was known to be injured.

“I just heard like gunshots. Like five, four … I’m not sure,” Cecilia Hernandez, who works at a Payless Shoe Source two doors down from the bank, told Reuters.

She said she “saw two guys running, real fast, away from the bank.” Police officers “got both of them, they pushed them to the ground.”

The bank was surrounded by as many as 100 officers, she said. The standoff lasted more than five hours.

Police Lt. Lopez said that during the initial stages of the incident the suspects tried to force the bank manager to open the vault, and assaulted him when they encountered resistance.

He was released from hospital after treatment for his injuries and was doing well, Lopez said.

The suspects tried to escape after the assault but encountered a police officer and shots were exchanged. One suspect was captured but the other took hostages in the bank, and began lengthy negotiations with police that lasted into late afternoon. Streets in the area were sealed off.

One woman told local television her boyfriend had been held in the bank and the suspect used his cell phone to talk to the police, who were assisted by FBI agents.

Angelica Martinez, manager of a Church’s Chicken restaurant near the bank, told Reuters that several people had come out of the bank in the early stages of the incident, including two teenagers who were briefly put in handcuffs before officers let them go.

Other witnesses said more hostages emerged later.

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Tim Gaynor; Writing by Jerry Norton; Editing by Peter Bohan)

Texas bank standoff ends, hostages free