May 7 (UPI) — Minnesota law enforcement agents arrested a suspect without incident late Thursday following an eight-hour hostage situation involving five bank employees at a Wells Fargo branch in the city of St. Cloud.
Authorities said the five hostages were uninjured and at home Thursday night and the suspect, Ray Reco McNeary, was arrested with formal charges pending.
During a press conference, St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson described the peaceful resolution to the incident as “the best possible outcome we could of had.”
The police chief said the more than eight-hour ordeal began at 1:48 p.m. with a call to police from the bank manager concerning a “disgruntled” male customer who was upset over a prior interaction with the establishment located on the south side of town.
Not long afterward, police received a panic alarm indicating a robbery was in process.
When officers arrived, customers had fled the building but five bank employees had been taken hostage, Anderson said, with the suspect demanding police call FBI negotiators.
“Throughout the incident we had contact with the suspect in every way possible, including writing notes and putting them up against the drive-thru window,” he said.
The hostages were released one at a time throughout the situation, with some bolting for the door when they had their chance, he said, adding that FBI agents and police arrested the suspect after entering the bank as the last hostage made a run for the front door.
Wells Fargo said in a statement to the St. Cloud Times that it is cooperating with law enforcement with their investigation.
“We recognize this is a traumatic moment for the community and our colleagues,” it said. “The safety and security of our customers and employees is our most important priority.”
Anderson said it was unclear if the suspect had a weapon but said he had threatened the employees during the hostage situation.
“From my vantage point in the command post, there were some moments when there was a threat,” he said, adding law enforcement were still searching the facility for a possible weapon.
Asked what may have been the motive behind the robbery and then subsequent hostage crisis, Anderson said one wouldn’t need to ask that if they saw his criminal record.
“That’s not me being flip,” Anderson said. “This guy has an extensive criminal history. So, I’m not surprised.”
Law enforcement in the city has dealt with McNeary numerous times going back at least a decade, Anderson said, adding that he actually missed a court appearance that day for a violent offense.
In early March, he was charged with two counts of felony domestic assault on accusations of twice punching a woman in the face.
Anderson said he was “extremely proud” of those both in the FBI and his own department, saying that observing them work in collaboration from the command center “was literally like watching a symphony.”
“This is what collaborative efforts and relationship-building are all about,” he said.