Arcola bank standoff ends with release of last hostage

Arcola bank standoff ends with release of last hostage

The standoff at an Arcola bank has ended at about 6:35 p.m. with the release of the last remaining hostage, Brad Pullen, manager of the Illinois Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust.

The suspect in the bank is in police custody.

The hostage situation followed the shooting of a Douglas County sheriff's deputy in a rural area between Villa Grove and Tuscola this morning.

Douglas County's Chief Deputy Tommy Martin was shot twice, according to Emery. Deputy Martin was shot in the face and torso and is in stable but critical condition at Carle Foundation Hospital.

Douglas County Sheriff Charlie McGrew said Deputy Martin came out of his first surgery late this afternoon and a second one will follow. He is still in critial but stable condition, McGrew said.

Police had evacuated about 50 to 75 people from their homes while the standoff continued, and State Police Sgt. Bill Emery said the American Red Cross had set up a shelter for those people in the First Christian Church at 311 E. Main.

"They're prepared to take care of all their needs," Emery said.

None of the hostages were hurt, Emery said. Police are currently interviewing those that were released.

McGrew said he had received calls from police and emergency agencies throughout Central Illinois today offering to help.

"I've never seen such a quick police response from so many agencies."

Police have Yusef Kareem Brown, 23, Chicago in custody.

Emery said police agencies assisting with the standoff include the state police and the FBI, and police departments from Arcola, Charleston, Mattoon, Tuscola, Urbana, Champaign, Douglas County sheriff's office, Coles County sheriff's office, Champaign County sheriff's office and Eastern Illinois University.

Emery confirmed that the incident began when an Illinois State Police trooper stopped the two suspects at 9:45 a.m. Thursday on Interstate 57, milepost 216, between Tuscola and Pesotum. The officer stopped them because the windows in their car had tinted windows. The trooper suspected drugs were in the car and called a canine unit, which alerted to drugs, but before an arrest could be made the two suspects drove off.

At 10:38 a.m. the sheriff's office received a report that two subjects had entered a farmhouse at rural Camargo, robbed two subjects at gunpoint and stole their van. Chief Deputy Martin spotted the van at the Hayes-Villa Grove Road and when he attempted to get out of his vehicle he was shot twice. He was able to report to the other officers his location and description of the vehicle.

The suspect's stolen van was spotted traveling at speeds over 100 mph on Interstate 57 and it got off at the Arcola exit and went through town to the railroad tracks, where the driver lost control.

Police took the driver, Brown, into custody and the passenger of the van ran into the First Mid-Illinois Bank at the intersection of U.S. 45 and Illinois 133.

Earlier today, police set up a command post at the Case Implement Store, King Brothers, on Spring Street a couple blocks west of the bank, which is on the northwest corner of Spring and U.S. 45.

Sheriff's deputies with shotguns were around the area of the bank, and most businesses in town had been locked down.

Around noon, two women released from the bank, who were quickly shuttled away by authorities, said one gunman remained inside with an undetermined number of hostages.

The women said one employee had been released earlier after opening the vault.

A witness, Steve Wesch, was in the office at the Arcola Co-operative Grain Co., across the street from the bank, when he saw state police capture the driver of the car.

"I was doing business and had just stepped out of the office when I heard some sirens," Wesch said. "I looked out and there was a black van with four or five state cops approaching it. The cops were yelling at the people in the van. Then the cops captured what looked like the driver, threw him out on the ground and handcuffed him.

"Then I saw a second man from the van run around the back," Wesch said. "It was the passenger. He ran across the street and into the bank."

One of the employees being held in the bank Thursday afternoon was Elozisa Leal, who is a bank employee. Her brother, Tigo Galaviz of Arcola, waited a few blocks away from the bank, which was as close as he could get under the police lockdown, and worried about what was going on in the bank building.

"It's hard to believe that something like this would happen in a small town like Arcola," said Galaviz. He ran to the area soon after a friend told him about the hostage situation.

Sections (2):News, Local
Location (3):Local, Douglas County, Arcola