Police smashed through the wall of a bank on Friday afternoon and saved two hostages who were held captive by a homeless veteran who claimed he had a bomb.
Brian Easley, 33, a homeless veteran, barricaded himself inside a Wells Fargo bank in Marietta, Georgia, and claimed his bomb could ‘take out the room’.
When police entered the bank after rescuing the two hostages, they found Easley dead.
Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register said a member of the tactical team could be responsible for his death.
‘It appears a member of the tactical team, when we made contact trying to extract the hostages, may have been responsible for the deceased,’ he said.
Easley, a former US Marine, entered the bank around 9.30am wearing a backpack. He told the bank employees that he had a bomb.
He called WSB-TV, an Atlanta television station, around 10.30am identifying himself and saying he had two hostages and a bomb that could ‘take out the entire room’.
He spoke with an assignment editor at the station for longer than 30 minutes.
He gave detailed demands and talked about his life, including that he was homeless, had served two tours in Iraq and that he was kicked out of the VA Hospital on Monday.
Easley told the station’s assignment desk that he had a bomb and two people with him.
In the station’s video account of the conversation, the man can be heard saying that the bomb had the power to ‘take out the room’.
He said he didn’t intend to hurt anyone, the station reported.
Before the two bank employees were rescued by police, Easley allowed them to drink water.
He was also in contact with police who handled the situation as a hostage situation and not a bank robbery.
Police negotiated with Easley for about three hours, according to officials.
Eventually, a SWAT truck was seen smashing its way through a back wall of the bank building, raining bricks onto its hood.
Two female bank employees who had been held hostage by the suspect were then freed. One of the employees told WSB-TV she was the branch manager.
However, it’s not clear if they escaped through the wall opening.
After they were able to get out of the bank, Cobb County police Sgt Dana Pierce said there were no more hostages inside.
‘To our relief we don’t have any injuries here as far as any employees or customers,’ Pierce told reporters at the scene early Friday afternoon.
When police entered the bank they found Easley dead. They continued to search the bank for explosives.
Authorities have not confirmed if Easley had the bombs he claimed to have, but they did find a backpack on the scene that was rendered ‘safe’.
Police did not say if the bag contained explosives or another device.
After searching his home, police did not find explosives in his house either.
The VA said in a statement: ‘VA is deeply saddened by the news in Cobb County earlier today.
‘VA worked closely with law enforcement to try to resolve the situation peacefully, but unfortunately it ended in tragedy. Our sincere condolences go out to everyone affected.’
A statement from Wells Fargo said: ‘We are deeply grateful to local law enforcement for their actions to secure the release of our team members today at our Windy Hill branch.
‘We are also saddened that the events today ended in the death of the suspect. We are cooperating fully with the authorities in their investigation, and are referring all questions to the Cobb County Police Department in order to preserve the integrity of that work.’
Officials are calling his death an ‘officer-related shooting’ and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will be brought in to help, according to WXIA.
Several heavily armed police officers had converged on the bank earlier in the day after reports of a man claiming to have a bomb with possible hostages inside.
Police had previously limited the amount of information they made public saying the suspect might be monitoring news coverage and social media, Cobb County police Officer Alicia Chilton said in a statement to The Associated Press.