A 35-year-old suspect is in custody and all five hostages are safe after an eight-hour standoff at a Wells Fargo bank branch in St. Cloud Thursday.
"A peaceful resolution, the best outcome we could have today," St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said at a press conference late Thursday, noting no one was hurt.
Anderson said the manager at the bank at 200 33rd Ave. S called 911 at 1:48 p.m. because there was a customer — the suspect — who was disgruntled about a prior transaction with the bank. The manager was worried about people's safety.
"We don't know anything more specific about what that dispute was," Anderson noted.
A short time later, police received a panic alarm from the bank, indicating there was a robbery in progress. Several people, including customers, had fled the bank before police arrived but five bank employees remained inside with the suspect.
The suspect immediately asked police to bring in the FBI, Anderson said, which they did.
FBI crisis negotiators worked for hours toward a resolution. The suspect released some of the hostages, while others ran for the door and made it out safely, Anderson said.
The first hostage was released around 6:30 p.m., with a second hostage leaving the bank around 7 p.m. The third and fourth hostages exited the bank around 8 p.m., the St. Cloud Times reports.
At about 10:25 p.m., when the last hostage made a run for the door, the FBI tactical unit made simultaneous entry into the bank and took the suspect into custody without incident, Anderson said.
Throughout the eight-hour standoff, law enforcement had contact with the suspect in "every way possible," Anderson said, noting they even wrote notes and put them up against the drive-through window.
It's unclear if the suspect was armed. As of Thursday night, officials hadn't located a gun but they were still processing the scene.
Anderson confirmed the suspect posted video from inside the bank on social media, which "made the job a little bit difficult." Meanwhile, a crowd of more than 200 people gathered in nearby parking lots to watch the situation unfold, the St. Cloud Times said.
St. Cloud officials and the FBI touted the collaboration between the agencies and mutual aid partners during the incident.
Charges are pending
The suspect was known to police and was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday for a violent offense, Anderson said.
"We have had numerous contacts with this individual dating back at least a decade, including violent crime," he added. "... This guy has an extensive criminal history."
Minnesota court records show past convictions for terroristic threats, domestic assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct. He was also arrested in March on suspicion of felony domestic assault and had a warrant for terroristic threats, the St. Cloud Times says.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing and charges against the suspect are pending.
Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall said at Thursday's news conference she has been in contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office about whether to charge the suspect in federal court given his criminal history and that there were five hostages in involved.
The suspect is being held in Stearns County Jail.
Note: Some of the details provided in this story are based on the police’s latest version of events, and may be subject to change.