CU Robbery Suspect Threatened to Kill Hostages During Standoff
Two people who hid and then escaped from a Jacksonville, Fla. credit union branch distracted an armed robber that allowed police to rescue 13 hostages unharmed and capture the gunman who threatened to kill them during a two-hour standoff Thursday morning.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said police received a report of a robbery in progress at 9:06 a.m. at the Edgewood Avenue Community First CU branch. Within minutes the Jacksonville branch was surrounded by police officers, SWAT team members, ambulances and fire trucks.
“We were able to establish some initial communications with the suspect,” Williams said. “He made different demands about requesting family members to be at the scene, that type of thing.”
Police identified the armed suspect as Nicholas Daquan Humphrey, 23, of Tampa, who demanded money and threatened to kill the hostages. Police said Humphrey did fire his handgun during the robbery and ordered all of hostages into a back room.
“He did, through negotiations, release a couple of the hostages, but he also continued to threaten people inside the bank, Williams said. “He threatened to kill the hostages multiple times. We had verifiable information that he was actually putting the gun to the back of the hostages’ head at a couple of points.”
Because those violent threats escalated, making the hostage situation increasingly stressed, tense and dangerous, Williams said the SWAT command staff determined that at the next opportunity they would storm the branch to rescue the hostages.
“Two people were hiding in the bank, unknown to the hostage taker. Those two people took an opportunity to flee the bank,” Williams explained during a press conference near the scene of the crime. “When they did that, it distracted the hostage taker and at that point, the SWAT team took the opportunity to make entry into the bank, placed themselves between the hostage taker and the hostages, in essence rescuing the hostages.”
At about 11 a.m., Humphrey surrendered and was taken into custody without a shot being fired. He was not injured.
Police escorted the hostages out of the branch. It is unknown how many of the hostages were members and how many were employees.
“As you can imagine, they (hostages) are shaken up,” Williams said. “You had employees inside the bank who just came to work and were victimized by this individual. You also had people just going to the bank at 9 o’clock on a Thursday morning who were victimized by this individual.”
John Hirabayashi, president/CEO of the $1.3 billion Community First Credit Union based in Jacksonville, was at the scene of the crime and made a statement during the press conference.
“On behalf of Community First Credit Union, we are just so very thankful that this hostage situation ended up resolving itself in a safe way for everybody,” he said. “Clearly, our hearts and prayers are with the families and the membership who were involved in this, but we are very thankful also that the JSO, the Swat team and negotiators did a fine job in bring this to a resolution and we certainly do appreciate everything Sheriff Williams has done. Once again, we need to get back with our employees…membership…to make sure everybody is taken care of and we will do whatever we can to make that happen.”
Hirabayashi did not return a CU Times phone call and email seeking additional information by press time Thursday evening.
Nonetheless, a witness on scene told First Coast News that she was in the credit union drive through when the robbery happened. The witness told the local media outlet that she saw multiple bank tellers walking through the building with their hands up. The woman said she knew something was wrong and called 911.
According to local news reports, a mother of a credit union employee heard from her 18-year-old son inside the credit union branch. The mother said son just started working the credit union about two months ago. The text read: "Mom I'm safe." She said she's relieved, according to media reports.
“The investigation is now beginning (and) lots of questions still have to be answered,” Williams said.
Oddly enough, Humphrey walked into the branch with a dog, according to police. The dog was not harmed and was handed over to animal control officials.
Police said Humphrey has been charged with armed robbery and 13 counts of kidnapping.
“(A) fantastic job by the patrol officers at the scene. (A) fantastic job by the SWAT team,” Williams said. “Those guys work and train hard every single day for days like today. And it paid off today. We were not only able to resolve it but to resolve it peacefully through some really professional expertise to make the right decision at the right time and be able to execute that and to take this individual into custody and to rescue the hostages.”
On the Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office social media pages, Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of followers posted comments praising the police for their efforts that saved the lives of the hostages without firing a shot.