8 hostages take by gunman at California bank

A gunman took eight people hostage in a bank during a standoff with police Wednesday night, but released four hostages as officers negotiated with him, authorities said. A Sheriff's Department SWAT team and police officers surrounded the Bank of America branch in downtown Exeter late Wednesday and evacuated neighboring businesses. The man entered the bank around 5 p.m. (0100 GMT) and demanded money, authorities said. He then took eight people hostage after employees alerted police to the attempted robbery, but released three of them shortly after, said sheriff's Lt. Keith Douglass. After a nearly three-hour standoff, the suspect released another hostage, a female bank employee, around 8 p.m. (0400 GMT); four female bank employees remained inside. Douglass confirmed that the suspect had a handgun. Margie Riportella, who had walked out of the bank with her young daughter moments before the standoff, said the man was carrying a briefcase but she saw no weapon. He also appeared to be unstable, she said. "He's got everyone in the middle of the room," Riportella told the Visalia Times-Delta. "It was totally weird. He was 'out there."' Authorities said some hostages have been able to speak with family members. "We're negotiating with him, what he needs, what he wants and what we can do to help him out in his situation," Douglass said, reports the AP. N.U.

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