PEARLAND, Texas A New Year s Eve hostage situation came to an end Friday afternoon when SWAT apprehended two suspects involved in an attempted Pearland bank robbery, according to authorities. In total, five employees and five customers were taken hostage, including three workers who were hiding during the stand-off.
Police said 29-year-old Raymond Johnson and 39-year-old Samuel Bonner were each arrested and charged with 13 counts of aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony. They were each being held on $13 million bonds.
Police said Bonner agreed to release the last two hostages and surrendered around 4 p.m. Two female employees preceded Bonner out of the Chase Bank, located in the 1900 block of North Main, and he was taken into custody without further incident.
A SWAT unit then deployed a flash-bang device inside the bank and entered to check for additional suspects. During the search, no more suspects were found but three employees who were hiding made it out of the building, ending the nearly 5-hour standoff. Police later said they were aware of the three workers hiding but did not release the information to the public to ensure their safety.
Pearland police, state and federal agents surrounded the bank Friday morning after a witness saw three to four masked suspects enter the bank, located just north of FM 518, around 11 a.m. and immediately called 911. Pearland police responded quickly to the robbery in progress and surrounded the bank.
As the officers were en route, the gunmen entered the bank, injuring the manager when he refused to open the vault, Pearland Police Lt. Onesmio Lopez said.
The manager was treated at a hospital as a result of the beating, Lopez said.
Police said when two or three of the suspects attempted to leave the bank, they encountered an officer and gunfire was exchanged. At least one suspect suffered a minor leg injury during the exchange and the remaining suspect or suspects fled in a dark blue truck.
One of the two remaining suspects, later identified as Johnson, then attempted to flee the scene through a back door, but was quickly apprehended in the Walmart parking lot and transported to the Pearland City Jail.
Police said the lone remaining suspect, Bonner, kept police at bay by threatening to harm the seven to nine hostages that were in the bank. SWAT officers were eventually able to talk Bonner into releasing five hostages. It was about an hour later before Bonner released the last two and surrendered.
As the drama unfolded, dozens of police officers surrounded the bank, and nearby businesses were locked down. Priscilla Medina, the manager of a fast-food restaurant, said police occupied her building after instructing her to stop serving customers.
They told us to close it down, so we did, she said.
FBI agents from the nearby Texas City office also were on the scene, but they allowed Pearland police to take the lead, an FBI spokeswoman said.
The bank s assistant manager, a man and a woman were released shortly after 1 p.m. North Main, which is also called Highway 35, was shut down in both directions until SWAT cleared the scene.
Police said the dark blue truck that fled the scene was later found behind a strip center in the 8300 block of W. Broadway.
Pearland police said detectives were continuing to conduct interviews in order to identify any additional suspects in the case.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.