Bank gunman shot; manager escapes harm
BUENA PARK – Police shot and injured a gunman who held a bank manager hostage Thursday afternoon after a failed robbery attempt, authorities said.
An hours-long standoff ended when SWAT officers about 3 p.m. exchanged gunfire with the man outside of Saehan Bank.
Police said the man suspected of holding the bank manager hostage was struck by gunfire, while three SWAT officers suffered minor injuries.
The female bank manager, who was near the gunman when shots were fired, was escorted to safety, authorities said.
Police said the gunman suffered "serious injuries," but it wasn't immediately clear if they were life-threatening. He was treated at the scene before being taken to a trauma center at UCI Medical Center.
The bank manager was reportedly uninjured.
Authorities believe the standoff began as an attempted bank robbery.
Shortly after 11 a.m., someone from inside the bank near Beach Boulevard and Los Coyotes Drive called police and said there was a disturbance, possibly a bank robbery, Buena Park police Cpl. Andy Luong said.
An armed man in his 40s had apparently walked into the bank, where there were seven customers and employees, Buena Park police Sgt. William Kohanek said. The man was silent when he entered the building and sat down.
"He was holding the weapon down," Kohanek said. "He didn't point it at anybody."
A police dispatcher asked someone inside the bank to request the man to let everyone go, Kohanek said. The man agreed to release everyone but the manager.
Hostage negotiators were in sporadic contact with the man.
"He seems to be a very angry person," Kohanek said.
Police said the man demanded something, but they wouldn't comment on what it was. The man left the bank to pick up the item, pointing a weapon at the bank manager.
The gunman, believed to have been armed with a shotgun, opened fire at SWAT officers outside the bank, authorities said, at which point police returned fire. About a dozen shots were heard.
"Those are split-second decisions they need to make," Buena Park police Chief Corey Sianez said. "They did an outstanding job. I'm very proud. We did what we came here to do, to save the hostages."
A bomb squad searched the building after the standoff, checking out what police described as "suspicious devices." No explosives were found.
Buena Park police SWAT officers were assisted by the FBI, Orange County Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol and an Anaheim police helicopter.
"It was really great to have the resources available for an incident of this magnitude," Sianez said.
Beach was temporarily closed from Rosecrans Avenue to Argyle Drive and officers evacuated the shopping center where the bank is located. The nearby Los Coyotes Middle School across the city border in La Mirada was placed on lockdown.
Other parents waited to pick up their children from a nearby KinderCare that had been locked down during the standoff.
It took Aditi Mathur, a Loma Linda nursing student, more than an hour to reach the police barricade, where she waited to pick up her 2-year-old daughter Sahchi. Parents who had picked up their children assured her that Sahchi was fine.
"I was so scared all the way up here," Mathur said. "I hear she is safe; I just can't wait to see her again."
The road closure left traffic snarled during the afternoon hours.
"Frustrating, the kind of mess one guy can cause," said James Kim, as he scanned a map to figure out how to get to a La Habra meeting. "Disrupting the lives of thousands."
The District Attorney's Office will investigate the incident, as is routine for officer-involved shootings.
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