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Gunman flees CU after standoff with police
CENTRALIA, Wash. (1/26/10)--A gunman at the Centralia branch of TwinStar CU, Olympia, Wash., fled the scene after a standoff with police Monday. The gunman had entered the credit union earlier that morning and held a gun to an employee’s head. The gunman entered the credit union in a failed robbery attempt--by crawling through a window--on Monday morning around 7 a.m. PST as employees were arriving to work. The individual confronted an employee, who was on the phone with another employee. The other employee called the police (Seattle Times Jan. 25). When police arrived at the credit union, a woman was being held hostage with a gun to her head and a knife to her throat. The woman mouthed to the officer, “He has a gun.” The officer fired two shots at the gunman and missed. The gunman, however, let go of the employee. The officer pulled the employee out of the credit union. The employee saved the officer’s life by telling him the gunman was armed. The officer then saved her life, said Centralia police officer John Panco. No other employees or members were inside at the time. The police called in other units and a SWAT team cornered the area. Later that morning, police broke a window and threw a microphone device in the credit union. They realized the gunman was listening to the radio, so they sent him a message through the airwaves and asked him to pick up the phone (Seattle Times Jan. 25). The gunman did not make contact with police at the time of the message. Finally, the SWAT team stormed the credit union branch using flash bang devices, but found nobody inside. As of press time, police considered the individual to be armed and dangerous. Police dispatched search teams to search for the individual, the newspaper said. TwinStar sent updates about the standoff through Facebook and Twitter. Several of TwinStar’s friends posted comments on Facebook saying they hoped that everyone from the credit union was safe, and thanked TwinStar for keeping them updated on the situation. TwinStar also posted a message on its website notifying members that its Centralia branch was closed until further notice. TwinStar’s Chehalis branch, normally closed on Mondays, opened for business at 2:30 p.m. PST to accommodate for Centralia’s closing.
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