Police in Surrey, B.C., take man into custody after standoff at bank
Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, February 16, 2016 1:51PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 16, 2016 11:01PM EST
SURREY, B.C. -- A six-hour standoff outside a Surrey, B.C., bank shut down a bustling commercial district before tactical officers entered the building and discovered a man hiding on the second floor, police say.
The robbery suspect had been holed up in the TD Canada Trust branch located just one block from the district's community police office, said RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann.
"Officers were on scene within a minute," he told reporters and a crowd of citizens gathered outside the office Tuesday.
"Throughout the day we made several attempts to communicate with anybody who may be inside. After receiving no response after hours of trying, eventually our tactical teams ... entered. They did find one adult male hiding in the top floor of the bank."
The man who was not identified was taken into custody and transported to a cell at the RCMP detachment. Mounties were considering recommending an attempted robbery charge, but were still reviewing evidence to determine what would be appropriate, Schumann said.
Staff and customers at the bank were already outside by the time officers responded to multiple calls about an attempted robbery at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
There were never any suggestions of a hostage-taking, Schumann said.
When officers brought out the man, who appeared to be in his 20s or 30s and was wearing a blue plaid shirt, onlookers standing behind police tape at a nearby intersection applauded.
"I was hoping it would end peacefully, but I'm sad to see it's a young man -- another youth," local resident Patricia Merritt said.
Merritt said she had lived in the Newton area of Surrey for 20 years and had seen crime rise in the troubled community.
"We were talking about the good old days, when we used to walk from one end of Newton to the other without worries. And now to see our little Newton become unsafe, it's pretty sad."
Rhonda Kerr said just before noon she heard police make announcements over a megaphone, saying, "The place is surrounded, come out with your hands up or we will come in."
Her daughter Tiarra Kerr said that about 10 minutes later an officer made a second announcement: "Somebody is calling the bank now. Please pick up the phone so we can establish communication so we can see what you need."
Kerr said she was happy the standoff ended peacefully and not in gunfire.
After the man was found, police said they were continuing to scour a wide radius around the bank and inside the building to ensure the premises were safe. Officers didn't immediately locate a weapon after initially receiving reports suggesting the suspect had been armed.
An explosive disposal unit was on scene with a remote-controlled robot equipped with cameras that allow officers to remotely look inside the bank without putting themselves in danger, Schumann said.
"The threat of a bomb never existed," he said.
Schumann addressed concerns from members of the public who complained police didn't take action quickly enough.
"These types of files are very complex," he said. "In this particular incident, we had no reason to rush into the bank."