Police say a suspect is holding three bank employees hostage.
One of three hostages being held by a gunman in a Louisiana bank was released by the suspect late Tuesday, hours into a standoff with authorities in a rural town near the Mississippi River.
Police say that at around noon on Tuesday, the suspect, a 20-year-old man originally from California, took three employees of the Tensas State Bank in St. Joseph, La., hostage and began making demands.
Authorities have declined to comment on what the suspect asked for.
Louisiana State Police superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said late Tuesday that a female bankteller had been released unharmed nearly nine hours into the ordeal.
The gunman is believed to be an employee of a local convenience store that his family owns.
Louisiana State Police say the gunman is armed with at least a handgun, though no shots have been fired and there have been no injuries since the man entered the bank. Authorities were alerted to the situation around 1 p.m. local time and said they have no plans to try to rush the standoff to a close.
"Our number one concern is the safety of the hostages," State Police Colonel Mike Edmondson said in briefing with media Tuesday evening.
Negotiators have made contact with the suspect and all the hostages, according to authorities. The gunman made demands during a nearly two-and-a-half hour phone conversation with authorities, though police declined to give specifics on what the suspect asked for.
Both state police and the FBI are on the scene, along with a SWAT team.
Tensas Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Civil Deputy Neeci Gregory told the News Star: “At this point, we don’t know if the suspect was trying to commit a robbery.”
The Louisiana newspaper reports that authorities have cordoned off the bank and set up a quarter-mile secure perimeter around the scene. One arrest was made after one of the suspect’s family members tried to sneak through the barricade police had set up.