Man holds hostages in Indiana bank before surrendering; no injuries, police say
LOWELL, Ind. (AP) – A man armed with a sawed-off shotgun entered a bank and took nine people hostage Tuesday morning before surrendering about four hours later. No one was injured, police said.
The hostages were released as police negotiators talked to the bank manager, who relayed the gunman’s demands. Authorities said David Potchen, 39, of Lowell, asked for two Big Macs and a pack of cigarettes, which were delivered in exchange for two hostages.
Mike Arredondo, chief of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, said it wasn’t clear if the man was trying to rob the bank. He said when the man walked in, he told bank employees to make sure that the alarm went off and that authorities and the media were alerted.
”He came in with a shotgun and told them to call police and that they were going to be there awhile,” Arredondo said.
FBI agent Bob Reilley said investigators were trying to determine a motive.
”We certainly believe that he had some sort of major personal or financial problem here,” Reilley said.
Records show that Potchen had declared bankruptcy in May of last year.
Michael Schrage, president of Centier Bank, said some of the employees who were held hostage recognized the man as a former customer.
”He might have been without a job and he hadn’t eaten for a while,” Schrage said after speaking with the employees. ”He was really unsure of what he wanted and didn’t know what he wanted to do.”
Once released, the hostages were brought into a department store in a shopping plaza behind the bank. Store employee Josh Wleklinski, 18, said he talked with some of the hostages.
”They were saying he was calm and just wanted food,” Wleklinski said. ”They asked him if he wanted money and he said no. He was calm and he knew what he wanted and it wasn’t the money.”
Nearby Lowell High School had been locked down because of the standoff, as were two nearby restaurants and five schools farther away from the bank.
”We were told not to be really moving around, because the city is in chaos,” town administrator Rick Dal Corobbo said.
Lowell, a rural town of about 7,500 people, is located in northwest Indiana, about 40 miles south of Chicago.
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