Eds. INSERTS 1 graf after lead to ADD that only fake device, no explosives, found.
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ A suspected bank robber who claimed to have explosives strapped to his body walked out with his shirt off and his hands up Tuesday after a 3 1/2-hour standoff in downtown Las Vegas.
No explosives were found. Authorities said they did recover a ``fake device.″
The standoff began at 9:20 a.m., when the man entered the bank and handed an employee a note demanding $500,000 cash, authorities said.
About 1,500 workers in the 17-story Bank of America building were safely evacuated. Police also evacuated other buildings nearby, including the federal courthouse one-half block away.
Heavily-armed SWAT officers took up positions around the bank as the ordeal wore on, and an armored personnel carrier was moved into place next to the bank exit.
But the suspected robber, identified as Wallace Lavonn Grettner, 57, apparently wasn’t interested in taking hostages. The branch manager and others left the building about 25 minutes after he made his threat, Bank of America spokesman Paul Stowell said.
``He told them they were free to go,″ Stowell said.
Negotiations couldn’t begin until Grettner picked up a phone authorities were calling inside the bank some time later. He finally came out of the lobby at 12:43 p.m., walking backwards on orders from the police. Authorities wouldn’t say what persuaded him to end the standoff peacefully.
``We negotiated him out,″ said Metro Police spokesman Greg McCurdy.
Grettner said he was from Las Vegas, although authorities aren’t sure of that, said FBI spokesman Walt Stowe. The FBI was consulting with the U.S. Attorney’s office on charges, Stowe said.
Authorities searched the area after he surrendered and found what Stowe described as ``a fake device.″
Another man who was talking on a phone refused to leave throughout the ordeal. Workers described him as an elderly, unkempt vagrant who often comes to the bank to use a courtesy phone. Stowe declined to give his name, saying he would likely be a witness in the case.