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Calif. Bank Robber Holds Hostages

January 30, 2002

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ALHAMBRA, Calif. (AP) _ A man claiming to have a gun took nine employees hostage at a suburban Los Angeles bank Tuesday after demanding $50,000, authorities said. All the workers were released or escaped unharmed.

Six hours after the standoff at the Cathay Bank branch began, the suspect was the only one left inside, Sgt. David Nater said.

The suspect, described as a man in his 30s, entered the bank around 9:25 a.m., told employees he was armed and demanded the money, Nater said. No customers were inside.

Bank employees gave him an undisclosed amount of money and triggered a silent alarm. Several tellers also e-mailed colleagues at other branches, telling them a robbery was in progress, said Irwin Wong, the bank’s executive vice president.

Authorities cordoned off four blocks surrounding the bank, clearing out residents and shopkeepers. Special weapons and FBI teams were called in to help sheriff’s deputies.

Cathay Bank, founded in 1962, was the first Chinese-American-owned bank established in Southern California. It has 19 California branches.