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Suspected bank robber in custody in Fife, bag had towels inside

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on June 30, 2009 at 10:46 am with No Comments »
June 30, 2009 10:46 am

Law enforcement officers have taken a suspected bank robber into custody after the man was holed up inside a Fife bank with up a bag that he said contains an explosive device.

KOMO carried a live video feed of the arrest. The man had come out of the bank, had his hands raised and was taken into custody without further incident.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s and Tacoma Police bomb squads worked to remove the suspicious bag. The bag was disrupted and investigators found only towels and other personal belongings inside. The stolen money also was recovered.

The 41-year-old suspect was being interviewed by detectives and will be booked into Pierce County Jail on robbery charges. Investigators believe he lost his job last week and was a gambler. He also had suicidal thoughts, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. Investigators were trying to track down the man’s family.

No injuries were reported during the incident.

All employees of the Bank of America and any customers inside at the time of the robbery have been evacuated, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. None were injured.

Troyer said the incident began around 10:15 a.m. when the man walked into the branch in the 5000 block of Pacific Highway East. He carried a bag and told tellers he had a bomb. He demanded money.

The robber got an undisclosed amount of cash, then something went sideways, Troyer said. The bank robber started acting strangely and remained in the bank.

Bank employees called police. Fife officers evacuated the bank except for the robber.

Surrounding businesses also were evacuated and the streets were closed off to traffic. Fife police had the bank surrounded. Puyallup and Tacoma police as well as Pierce County sheriff’s deputies responded.

More than an hour later, Fife officers were able to talk the man outside, where he was taken into custody without further incident.

“We’re lucky this thing ended the way it did,” Troyer said. “It could have sure turned out differently.”

The state Department of Transportation briefly closed the off-ramps from southbound and northbound Interstate 5 to 54th Avenue due to police activity.

Investigators do not believe the suspect is the same man who robbed a Tacoma bank branch on Friday evening, Troyer said.

Photo courtesy of Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer.


We hear a bank in Fife is being evacuated.

Police are on the scene of the Bank of America in the 5000 block of Pacific Highway East.

UPDATE: I just overheard on the scanner that Arby’s and Wendy’s have been evacuated.

There is an Arby’s and Wendy’s located on Pacific Highway East in Fife near the bank so I am assuming it’s related but haven’t confirmed that.

KIRO TV is reporting the evacuations come after a robbery.

UPDATE 2: There are reports that a man is holed up. There are conflicting reports about whether there are hostages inside.

Tom Tinker, who is a tenant in the business park where the Bank of America is located, reported the following.

He said he went to the bank about 10:15 a.m. today to do some business. He walked up to the door and found it locked. A woman from inside came to the door.

“We’ve got an emergency here,” she told Tinker. “You can’t come up and the police have been called.”

Tinker didn’t see much of the activity inside and left.

He said most of the business park is not blocked off. There are police officers, with weapons drawn, all over. They have all four corners covered.

“Yeah, I was just across the street at the T-Bell when it started up, there’s about a dozen officers with M-16 and M-4 assault rifles with a perimeter and they’re clearing the whole block as best they can, just in case he manages to get out,” wrote longknife21.

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