Today’s Would-Be Hostage

“Two-fox-nineteen,” an officer said over the radio, “I’ve been flagged down by a staff member from the Noname Bank located at the corner of Something St and Nowhere Ave.  There’s a male inside the bank causing a disturbance and they need help having him removed.”

“Ten-four,” dispatch responded.

I was sitting in my car at that intersection so I radioed in that I was also at the bank and would assist.  After being briefed by the officer, we approached the bank entrance together.

 

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The main doors led into the ATM machine area, which was separated from the rest of the bank by a set of glass doors and a glass wall. 

I had time to take in a woman and a young child at the ATM when a flash of yellow drew my attention to the inside of the bank.

The flash of yellow was the jacket on a security guard.  He was darting around on the other side of the glass and pointing frantically to another area of the bank.  Several staff members were running around behind him, and one woman ducked beneath the counter.

“Oh shit,” I said under my breath, and my hand dropped to my sidearm.

“Radio to the units at the bank,” our dispatcher broke in, her voice full of concern, “The manager’s on the line – there’s a man with a gun inside the bank.”

 

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The officer with me went to contain the other exit as I drew my pistol and started to take cover. 

Then I remembered the woman and child at the ATM – they would be in clear view of anyone inside the bank and would make ideal hostages.  I could not go to them as I did not want the gunman to know the police were there, so I stayed rooted in the doorway and called out to them. 

The woman turned and gasped, drawing her daughter tight to her side when she saw my uniform and gun.  I told her to come to me NOW but she balked.

“What’s wrong?” she asked in a whisper.

“There’s a man with a gun inside the bank and I need you and your daughter to come here now,” I said, beckoning her with my free hand.  I hoped she could tell by the tone of my voice that I was not messing around. 

The woman instinctively placed her body between her child and the doors of the bank and started towards me.  Just when I thought she was going to be out of harm’s way the woman stopped and pointed backwards.

“My bank card!”

And with that she stepped back to the machine with her child, pressed a button, and waited for the machine to spit her card out.

 

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The call ended minutes later.  The suspect was in custody, no one was injured, the bank was secure.

And my mind was still reeling at the fact the mother actually thought it was okay to retrieve her bank card.

 

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People act differently when placed under stress.  I understand that.

But I’m a mom.  If I were at an ATM with my kids and a cop showed up in the doorway with her gun drawn and told me to beat feet, I’d not second guess her.  My kids would be tucked up under my arms like two over-sized footballs and I’d be outta there to get my kids to a place of safety.

Then, of course, I’d come back to see what I could to do to help, but my kids are my first priority.

Is it just me, or would this rattle you, too?

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