Gilbert police and its SWAT team peacefully ended a hostage situation at a Chase Bank branch on Power Road — a scenario that led to the evacuation of about 30 people from nearby businesses Tuesday morning.
The man, Queen Creek resident Timothy Dritchas, 47, entered the bank claiming to have a gun and took three bank employees hostage shortly before 10 a.m, according to information provided by the Gilbert Police Department. He stated he was going to rob the bank, police said.
Police say Dritchas told employees to call 911 and report they were being robbed, according to police. He surrendered to officers at about 10:15 a.m. after speaking with Gilbert SWAT negotiators. No one was injured in the incident.
There was nothing to indicate that Dritchas was actually robbing the bank, police said, adding that he did not have a weapon on him when he was arrested, but does appear to have psychological issues.
Witnesses told the Tribune that after Dritchas was apprehended and placed in handcuffs, he smiled and said some words to the Chase employees as they walked past him to return inside the bank.
Dritchas will be booked into jail for kidnapping, and other charges may be filed, police said.
Dritchas also was taken away in an ambulance, according to witnesses who were evacuated from businesses in the plaza that includes an Albertson’s grocery store, a Subway sandwich shop, Rosatti’s Pizza, Somerset Dental and PostNet, a package shipping business.
“It was pretty intense,” said Subway manager Sherrie Rodriguez. “The Chase Bank was robbed about three years ago, but nothing like this. The police really did a good job of getting it under control. At one point, police told us to lock our doors because they had a serious situation, but then we were evacuated and just stood beside the Albertson’s grocery store near the drive-through window. All in all, it took about an hour. We saw him (Dritchas) sitting on the curb after he was handcuffed. He was all smiles, thinking it was funny.”
Jamie Isaksen, office manager for Somerset Dental in the plaza said that about four patients and 11 members of its staff were evacuated.
“It was a little crazy,” Isaksen said. “There were a lot of officers. We didn’t know much about it at the time. He was put on a stretcher and put in an ambulance. When customers came back into the store, one of them said he was sitting in the back of the ambulance smiling and waving.
“One of our customers who came in said that as the bank workers were being walked past him to go back inside the bank, he smiled at them ... and said, “see ya tomorrow.”
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