MAN holds hostages in Indiana bank before surrendering; no injuries, police say

Tuesday, September 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOWELL, Ind. (AP) _ A man trying to rob a bank took a group of people hostage Tuesday morning before surrending hours later. No one was injured, police said.

Police initially reported there were nine hostages, but news reports put the number as high as 20. Police did not release further information, pending a news conference.

Authorities had negotiated for the release of three hostages _ two adults and a child _ by mid-morning, Deputy Lake County police chief Melvin Maxwell said. Police delivered food and cigarettes to the robber.

No information was immediately available on the condition of the remaining hostages at the Centier Bank.

Nearby Lowell High School had been locked down because of the standoff, as were two nearby restaurants and five schools farther away from the bank.

``We're just kind of sitting tight here,'' said town administrator Rick Dal Corobbo. ``We were told not to be really moving around, because the city is in chaos.''

The high school's students were barred from leaving the building, said Donald Yeoman, superintendent of the Tri-Creek School Corporation.

``All the doors are locked and we have employees at every door,'' Yeoman said, adding that outside the school he could see ``lots of police officers. That's all I can see.''

A Pizza Hut near the bank was turned into a police command post, and a Taco Bell restaurant/Speedway gas station was also under lockdown.

Store manager Sherry Todd said she was about to drive to the bank when police cars arrived and told area businesses to remain under lockdown.

``I've never seen so many cops in all my life. They're everywhere,'' she said.

Lowell, a rural town of about 7,500 people, is located in northwest Indiana, about 40 miles south of Chicago.