A hostage situation at a Jacksonville, Florida bank has ended with all 11 hostages freed and the suspect in custody – despite a tense two-hour stand-off that saw hostages repeatedly threatened with death, police said.
At around 9am an unidentified man entered the Community First Credit Union on West Edgewood Avenue with a dog and handgun and held the place up, cops said.
Police and SWAT teams descended on the bank, where the suspect put his gun to the heads of victims and threatened to kill them ‘multiple’ times, authorities said.
Sheriff Mike Williams initially wrongly identified the suspect – described as a black male in his 20s or 30s – as DeAndre Shuman.
The Sheriff’s Office later confirmed that Shuman was innocent, and said they were working to identify the actual robber.
An 18-year-old teller named Andre Shuman was confirmed earlier in the day as one of the hostages.
Speaking to reporters, Sheriff Mike Williams said that the robber – who was not employed at the bank – threatened to kill
hostages ‘multiple’ times during the two-hour ordeal.
His threats and activity ‘escalated and became more intense’, Williams said, until there was no choice but to have the SWAT team breach the bank and rescue the hostages.
SWAT held back until an opportunity presented itself, Williams said.
That opportunity came when two hostages, who had hidden from the robber, made a break for the exit.
They were believed to have coordinated the escape with SWAT teams outside, ABC said.
As the pair ran the gunman was distracted, Williams said – that gave the SWAT team the opportunity it needed, and a large black tank-like battering ram was deployed to breach the entrance of the building.
SWAT officers used it as a shield to enter the bank, then put themselves between the suspect and the hostages.
Surrounded, the gunman gave himself up and was taken into custody without injury, Williams told reporters.
None of the hostages had been injured. The dog was reportedly also safe with police.
One witness, Clara Cruise, thanked ‘the Lord’ as she saw her daughter, who works in the bank, being removed from the scene by SWAT officers.
‘God be the glory! Oh, hallelujah!’ she said, laughing with relief, as she watched her daughter safe and sound with police officers.
Another anxious family member seen outside the bank during the incident was Latasha Shuman. She told News4Jax her 18-year-old son Andre had texted her from inside the bank.