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Man releases 1 of 3 hostages from La. bank

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Man releases 1 of 3 hostages from La. bank

Post by SKOOKID on Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:44 am

ST. JOSEPH, La. (AP) — A man whose family owns a
store across the street from a bank branch in rural
Louisiana took three bank employees hostage
Tuesday, then released one of them nine hours
later as negotiations continued to secure the others'
freedom, police said.

Louisiana State Police superintendent Col. Mike
Edmonson confirmed the release of a female bank
teller late Tuesday. He said authorities were talking
with her about her ordeal.

Meanwhile, talks continued with the hostage-taker,
identified only as a 20-year-old man from the
northeastern-Louisiana community.

"It's a fluid, active scene," Edmonson told reporters.
"We still have two hostages in there and a hostage

Police said they have no reason to believe any
captive has been hurt.

"We feel like we're being productive," Tensas Parish
Sheriff Rickey Jones said late Tuesday. "The
negotiators are doing a good job."

Earlier Tuesday, Edmonson said that the man had
been calm and had made some demands, but he
would not describe the demands or further identify
the gunman.

"We're still working with him to determine exactly
what his intent is," Edmonson said.

The gunman, carrying at least a handgun, took two
women and a man captive about 12:30 p.m. at the
Tensas State Bank branch in St. Joseph, and a
negotiator talked with him throughout the
afternoon, said Trooper Albert Paxton, a state police

The red-brick bank is just off Louisiana Highway 128,
a rural stretch of road cutting through cornfields. It
is across the street from Trak convenience store,
which the gunman's family owns, in St. Joseph, the
seat of Tensas Parish.

Edmonson warned that the standoff could last for
some time.

"Our utmost concern right now more than anything
else is the safety of those hostages," he said.

More law enforcement people and equipment
would be brought in, he said then. "We've got to be
prepared to act," Edmonson said.

The FBI, U.S. marshals, state police and local law
enforcement officers were among those
responding to the standoff.

Edmonson provided few details about the gunman,
except to say he is originally from California and
that his family settled in the Louisiana community
and opened a convenience store.

"We're negotiating with him," Edmonson told CNN.
"We're talking with him. We've been on the phone
with him. We actually talked to the hostages there.
Nothing is more important to me than the safety of
those hostages."

He said some of the suspect's relatives tried to
approach the scene earlier, and that authorities
were now working with them.

Mayor Edward Brown said that, as a general rule,
the town's most notable crimes are the occasional
drug busts, and some residents are so frightened
about what's happening that they've left town.
"It's a quiet town. Very little crime. So this is
amazing," Brown said.

The town of 1,200 is near the Mississippi River,
downriver from Vicksburg, Miss., in northeast

Paxton said he believed that the Trak convenience
store was evacuated, but there were few other
occupied buildings within the perimeter that state
police and the FBI set up.

Richardo (rik-AHR-doh) Miles, a 25-year-old
farmworker, said he lives about a half-mile from the
bank. He sat on his bicycle at a roadblock near an
abandoned hardware store about a quarter-mile
away, watching the activities of dozens of first
responders, including paramedics and heavily
armed men in camouflage.

A helicopter circled overhead in the overcast sky for
a time as men, some carrying assault rifles,
gathered in the street in front of the bank. Law
enforcement trucks also hauled in construction
lights, apparently to prepare in case the standoff
lasted into the night.

Late Tuesday, authorities had received a request for
food from those inside the bank building.
The sight of the state police bomb squad and SWAT
team unnerved many people in the sleepy farm
town, Miles said.

"It's kind of startling for the residents. We're not
accustomed to this kind of activity," said Miles.
"Some people are pretty scared. They're nervous."

Tensas Parish lies along Mississippi River, but St.
Joseph is about a mile from the riverbank and
about two miles from a 3,000-acre oxbow lake that
long ago was one of the river's bends. Nearly one-
third of the parish's 5,000 residents live under the
federal poverty level, according to U.S. Census
figures. Farmland makes up more than 45 percent
of the 600-square-mile parish, with most of it in
cotton, feed grains, soybeans and wheat.


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