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Four Held In Bank; Burglars Flee

September 2, 1988

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Four hostages and heavily armed police SWAT teams spent several tense hours Friday waiting out two holdup men, until the hostages safely made a break for it and police discovered the pair had fled.

The hostages spent 3 1/2 hours inside a closet believing the holdup men were still in the bank, then dashed from the building in a bid for freedom, police said. No one was hurt.

Heavily armed officers had spent the morning assuming the four bank employees were being held hostage. After the four ran out, officers fired two rounds of tear gas into the bank, searched it and found no one inside.

″It’s ironic the way it worked out,″ said Officer Douglas R. Anderson of the Metro Police Department. ″We were here to play it out until the end. We don’t feel silly.″

An all-points bulletin for two men was issued when police came out of the downtown bank branch around noon without the suspects.

The four hostages - three women and a man - were being debriefed Friday afternoon at police headquarters.

Police did not know how the two burglars were able to enter the Third National Bank through a broken rear window without triggering an alarm.

The bank employees told police one man carried a sawed-off shotgun and the other had a knife, Anderson said.

Police said they did not know if any money was taken.

The FBI tried to communicate with those inside by using a bullhorn, Anderson said, but received no response. Telephone calls to the bank during the four hours went unanswered.

The four employees ran from the one-story granite building and were hustled into a police mobile command unit and whisked away.

Anderson said the burglars apparently were already in the bank when the workers arrived about 7:30 a.m. The burglars forced them into the closet, then apparently fled after another bank worker arrived, saw something was going on and went to a nearby business and called police.

″It was a burglary, and they came in to wait for an armed robbery,″ Anderson said.

Meantime, the employees in the closet did not know the intruders had left and remained there until their break for freedom.

About 25 police officers and FBI agents surrounded the building and stood atop nearby businesses. Traffic on two streets was blocked off for three blocks. The bank employees were identified as bank manager Lattie Brown, 45; assistant manager Trina Chance, 40; loan officer Brian Williams, 27; and teller Dot Oats, 51.

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