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Arcola standoff ends when suspect surrenders
Police stand outside the First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust in Arcola after a hostage situation concluded Thursday (June 21, 2007). (Mattoon Journal Gazette/ Kevin Kilhoffer)

ARCOLA - A man wanted in an ambush shooting that left a sheriff's deputy critically wounded and who later took five hostages in a rural bank surrendered Thursday evening, giving up his last hostage without further violence, authorities said. | Photo gallery

The hours-long standoff ended about 6:35 p.m. when the suspect walked out of the First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust, alongside the only hostage who hadn't already been released, State Police Sgt. Bill Emery said. He'd been talking with an FBI negotiator.

"They both agreed he would come out and surrender,'' Emery said. "We told him what door to go out and he went out the door and the hostage with him.''

The suspect, about whom authorities had few details Thursday night, was not armed when he emerged from the bank but a handgun was found inside, Emery said.

The man had released four hostages unharmed throughout the afternoon. Authorities did not immediately release details of the negotiations or releases.

The last hostage, who family members identified as 27-year-old bank manager Brad Pullen, also was unharmed, Emery said.

Pullen's family gathered Thursday inside the Dog House, a local bar and grill in this town of 2,600 that is owned by Pullen's 69-year-old grandfather, Bill Pullen, who also had been taken hostage but was later released.

Bill Pullen told Chicago's WLS-TV that the suspect in the bank "was only threatening'' initially.

"His main thing was that nobody is gonna get hurt, which you have a tendency not to believe in that situation,'' he said.

The situation began about 9:30 a.m. when a state trooper on Interstate 57, about 12 miles from Arcola, pulled over a silver Infiniti for having windows tinted too darkly. The trooper radioed for a drug-sniffing dog, which alerted to something while sniffing around the car, and the suspects fled, Emery said.

Because there was no violent crime or threat of a violent crime, the trooper was not allowed under State Police policy to give chase, Emery said. An hour later, the two men robbed a home in nearby Camargo and stole a van, leaving the silver car behind.

Soon after, Douglas County sheriff's deputy Tom Martin pulled the van over and was shot in the face and torso as he walked up to the vehicle, Emery said. Authorities said Martin, though critically wounded, was able to call in the attack as the suspects fled, and the chase was on.

The van reached speeds of more than 100 mph, Emery said, and gunfire from the vehicle struck an Illinois State Police car in the windshield. The driver lost control of the vehicle as it careered over railroad tracks in Arcola, and the two men abandoned it.

One fled into the nearby bank about 11 a.m. The other suspect, a 23-year-old Chicago man, was taken into custody. It wasn't immediately clear to authorities which suspect shot the deputy.

The men were to be held overnight at Douglas County Jail. Sheriff Charlie McGrew said charges were not likely to be filed until Friday.

McGrew said Thursday evening that Martin, a 59-year-old father of two, had already had one of two expected surgeries and that it went "very well.'' He was listed in critical condition and was expected to remain overnight at the Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, nursing supervisor Sue Gelvin said.

Arcola, about 150 miles south of Chicago, is home to an Old Order Amish settlement. The rural area features Amish homes, business and schools. It is also the hometown of Johnny Gruelle, creator of the Raggedy Ann and Andy characters in the early part of the last century.

"This does not happen in our little town,'' said Paul Harshbarger, owner of Midwest Mobile Stages. Just a block from the bank, Harshbarger and his staff were trying to conduct business as usual as SWAT trucks and police with shotguns zoomed by.

"It's actually inconvenient for business today,'' he said. "We've just been hanging out inside here taking care of what we got to do.''

The situation at the bank unfolded so quickly that police ordered crews building a grain elevator next door to abandon their still-running equipment, Harshbarger said. The tractors, compressors and backhoes were left to run until they run out of gas.

The hostage situation also disrupted train service when police closed nearby railroad tracks.

Amtrak used charter buses in place of late afternoon trains scheduled to run both ways between Chicago and Carbondale, said spokesman Marc Magliari. The tracks reopened shortly after the standoff ended, said spokeswoman Karina Romero. In all, four trains were affected.

Canadian National Railway spokesman Jim Kvedaras said at least several major freight trains also had been delayed.


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