New Year's Eve Bank Standoff Comes to End in Texas

PHOTO Armed robbers have taken several people hostage and wounded the bank manager at a Chase Bank in Pearland, Texas.
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A New Year's Eve bank robbery was punctuated by gunshots and turned into a hostage standoff for nearly five hours until the hostages were released and both masked robbers were in custody.

Nearly 60 cops and FBI agents had surrounded the Chase Bank in Pearland, Texas, today when the drama came to an end when a man armed with a handgun released his last two hostages and was placed under arrest.

After the gunman surrendered, three bank employees emerged from a closet where they had been hiding during the ordeal.

The mask-wearing bank suspected retreated into the bank along with an accomplice about 11:30 a.m. CT today when a lone police officer answering a 911 call pulled into the parking lot outside the Chase Bank in Pearland, Texas, and exchanged gunfire with the bank robbers.

During the ensuing standoff, one of the alleged bank robbers surrendered to police and five of the seven hostages were released. The only injury reported so far was an assault on the bank's manager, Pearland Police Lt. Onesmio Lopez said.

A SWAT team was inside the bank negotiating with the remaining robber. Lopez said, "I have not been told of any demands."

With police and authorities holding guns aimed at the bank's doors, the hostages appeared to be unharmed when they left the building. Of the five hostages who were released, at least one was a woman and two were men. It was unclear who the others were.

The woman, wearing a striped shirt, walked to a black SUV parked in front of the bank. She then left the SUV and held her hands up as she walked across the parking lot, eventually breaking into a run.

One of the men was put in handcuffs as he exited the bank, but police said that he is not a suspect.

Malford Lewis was one of the hostages who was allowed to leave. He was caught up in the drama when he went to make a deposit, his girlfriend Donetta Gardner told ABC News.

"When he got out the sergeant of the police department called me to say I could talk to him for 10 seconds and he told me not to worry and he was okay," Gardner said.

But Gardner's brother called Lewis' phone to check up on the couple, and one of the bank robbers answered the phone, Gardner said.

"He told my brother, 'Hey brother-in-law, don't call this phone any more. I'm using this phone to talk to the police, so don't call this phone,'" Gardner said.

The robbers first entered the bank at around 11:30 a.m. CT, ABC News affiliate KTRK reported.

"We received a 911 call and the first officer was on the scene in a couple of minutes," Lopez said.

Police said that the police and robbers exchanged gunfire. One of the robbers fled back into the bank and the standoff began.

Yureli Gomez is the manager of a restaurant near the bank called Taqueria Arandas. She was about to leave for the bank to get some change when her sister came screaming into the restaurant's back door.

"My sister came in and said she saw a robber ran around the bank and then the police officer was behind shooting at him and he went into the bank's back door," Gomez said.

New Year's Eve Hostage Standoff in Texas

A male bank manager was beaten severely and taken to a nearby fast food business, police said. They are unsure of his condition.

Police said that the masked robbers have not made any demands and they are unaware if they actually took any money.

The highway surrounding the bank is blocked off.

"They aren't letting any activity go down the street in front of us at all," said Mimi Brewer, who manages a Holiday Inn Express near the scene of the robbery.

One of her employees was shopping at the Wal-Mart near the bank and still has not been allowed to return to the hotel.

ABC News' Gina Sunseri and ABC Affiliate KTRK contributed to this report.

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