Florida police have freed 11 people from inside a local bank after an allegedly gun-wielding, would-be robber took them hostage Thursday morning, police say.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office deputies took the suspect into custody and freed the alleged hostages at around 11:10 a.m. — two hours after authorities first responded to a report of a bank robbery at Community First Credit Union on West Edgewood Avenue, police announced via Twitter.
Sheriff Mike Williams said during a Thursday press conference that the suspect could face charges of robbery, armed kidnapping and multiple counts of aggravated assault.
Williams said officials were in contact with the suspect throughout the ordeal, alleging he requested money and that his family members be brought to the scene.
“He did, through negotiations, release a couple of the hostages,” Williams said. “But he also continued to threaten people inside the bank. He threatened to kill hostages multiple times … he was actually putting the gun to the back of the hostages head at a couple points.”
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Deputies were able to capture the alleged, would-be robber when two people — both had been hiding in the bank, unknown to the suspect — tried to flee the building, which distracted the suspect and allowed police a way inside, Williams explained.
The sheriff said no one was shot during the situation. He added that the suspect entered the bank with a dog, and noted that the animal is safe.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Community First Credit Union’s CEO John Hirabashi wrote, “We are so thankful that today’s hostage situation resolved itself in a safe way. Our hearts and prayers are with families and membership. We are thankful and appreciative for … law enforcement as they did a fine job handling the situation.”