Bank robbery, kidnapping ends in fatal shooting; STGnews Videocast

The scene where the suspect was brought down, Washington, Utah, Sept. 11, 2014 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – An armed bank robbery Thursday afternoon resulted in a kidnapping, police pursuit and eventually the fatal shooting of an individual believed to be the robbery suspect.

The robbery took place at about 1:45 p.m. Thursday at Zions Bank, located at 717 River Road. St. George Police responded to a robbery in progress and were also notified that two hostages had been taken from the bank by the suspect, St. George Police Officer Derek Lewis said during a press conference. The suspect, reportedly armed with a handgun and a shotgun, forced the two hostages, later identified as two female bank employees, into one of their own vehicles, a silver Volkswagen Touareg, according to a press release from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspect was described as man wearing dark clothing, dark shorts and a yellow wig and beard and carrying a red duffel bag. Police have not yet identified the suspect.

Officers spotted the suspect traveling east on Foremaster Drive and pursued him.

“During the pursuit, the suspect fired several shots at our officers, striking several officer vehicles,” Lewis said.

None of the pursuing officers themselves were hit by the gunfire.

The video below features footage from the area where the police had their final encounter with the suspect. Audio featured is from police scanner traffic detailing the incident, as later confirmed.

(report continues below)

Videocast by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

The pursuit progressed east on Riverside Drive and then went into Washington City, where the suspect abandoned the vehicle and also left the hostages behind and fled on foot into the Washington Fields area. The two women kidnapped from the bank remained with the vehicle.

The hostages were found unharmed,” Washington County Sheriff Sgt. Dave Crouse said.

During the pursuit, Washington County School District schools were placed on lockdown until the situation resolved. Police also asked people in the Washington Fields area to stay in their homes.

Lewis said police set up a containment area between Washington Fields Road and River Road and around the Virgin River. The area is a mix of residential subdivisions and wilderness area, Ed Kantor, Washington City Police public information officer, said.

“SWAT teams and search parties were coordinated and searched the area of the Virgin River in Washington,” Crouse said. “The search parties did encounter the suspect in the Virgin River area. Shots were fired. At this time we do know multiple officers were involved in the shooting … I can confirm at this time that the suspect believed to be involved in the bank robbery is deceased.”

The final encounter with the suspect occurred between 4-4:30 p.m.

Crouse declined to say which specific police agency may have been involved in the shooting, though it is known that agencies involved in the overall pursuit included the St. George and Washington City Police, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Utah Highway Patrol. State and federal agencies were also involved. Two helicopters were also used in the search for the suspect.

No officers were injured during the final encounter with the suspect.

“We are very pleased with the outcome right now … The homeowners and the residents in the area no longer need to be on the alert,” Crouse said.

Whitnee Holt,  who lives in the area near where police found the suspect, said she was listening to a police scanner in her home with a friend when they both suddenly heard an exchange of gunfire outside.

“I looked to my friend and said, ‘I think those are gunshots,'” Holt said, “and then we heard a series of other gunshots and then my husband came in and said ‘Get down!’ and so we all got down. We then looked out the window and saw paramedics coming down the road.”

The Washington County School District began to lift the lockdown status of the various schools in the area following news of the suspect’s apprehension and subsequently confirmed death.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

St. George News reporter Kimberly Scott contributed to this report.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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20 Comments

  • Youareanidiot September 12, 2014 at 5:36 am

    Good. Another scum bag gone. Waste of life. I feel bad for the employees. Probably will never be the same.

    • Tina September 16, 2014 at 9:16 am

      U know what do u know how hard life is when u give up an u don’t have anybody to ask u if ur ok or no one to be around to help u so ya he … up but he was someones kid
      Ed. ellipsis.

      • Prize September 16, 2014 at 1:59 pm

        A 37 year old ain’t no kid

  • My Evil Twin September 12, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Good job by the officers! I hope the hostages will be able to get past this situation, that had to be absolutely terrifying for them.

  • ScanMeister September 12, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Later comments over radio when ID requested comments were made he was “wearing body armor with lots of ammo”. (scanner coms) Fortunate only one fatality.

  • sagemoon September 12, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Good job local LEO’s. I’m glad none of you were hurt. I’m glad no one was hurt except the suspect. Now if the two hostages can overcome their trauma, this is a good ending to a terrible situation.

  • Koolaid September 12, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Suicide by cop? If he’s originally from Dixie, how many wives does he leave behind?

    • Koolaid the Bigot September 12, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Thank You. We’re all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view

    • anonymouse September 12, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      He must of had to many. He decided he was better off dead than putting up with all those women.

  • proudtobeamerican September 12, 2014 at 9:10 am

    You don’t shoot at SGPD! Good job guys! I can’t really talk bad about SGPD anymore. You guys are REAL cops! Don’t let anybody tell you different.

  • paul September 12, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Geez, what did they get the footage with. A brick?

  • Ashley September 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Thank you to all of the different police departments that kept the citizens of St. George safe. Great work! Thank you.

  • BOREC September 12, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Koolaid, you’re funny! I hope we find out who the trigger man was. I’ve been shooting with a particular LEO of AZ’s Sherrif’s Office and I’ve never seen anyone shoot like him before. Lots of combat experience of squeezing a trigger. Great job of protecting!!!

  • ScanMeister September 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Name of deceased gunman Benjamin Schroff. Vest and extra ammo noted.

  • bobber September 12, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    If ur gonna gonna rob a bank pls don’t use a gun. It’s typically bank policy to hand over whatever is demanded, so all you need is a note. Pls don’t take hostages either.

  • BOREC September 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Great shot SGPD! I just saw the bullet holes at Millcreek HS!!! You protecting our kids was impeccable!!! Great job to Wash School Dist too!!!

    • Prize September 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Were those bullet holes from the students shooting back?

  • Devanyann September 12, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    My school was one of the schools that went into lockdown for 4 hours i was so scared i almost literly peed my pants and my class was crying and shaking in fear im glad that no one got hurt and that they caught the man!

  • demon September 21, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    I know Ben schroff. This time he just went to far. What ever his motives he scarred these women, sgpd will get you, alive mamed, dead what ever it takes. Compliance people it’s how you stay unharmed

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