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July 15, 2014

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Cleaner and guards stop hostage-taker

A MAN has been detained by police after a woman was held hostage at knifepoint during an attempt to rob a bank in the Pudong New Area yesterday.

Security guards, a cleaner brandishing a mop and members of the public throwing chairs caught the would-be robber.

According to police, the man held, a 35-year-old surnamed Wang, had run up huge debts gambling on soccer matches.

The man ran into the Beicai branch of the Agricultural Bank of China on Hunan Road at lunchtime.

He produced a knife, grabbed bank clerk Yu Wenjing in the lobby and demanded that the bank give him money within 15 seconds. He dragged Yu to a corner and pretended to slash her several times.

Yu’s colleagues on the front desk set off police alarms, while security guards evacuated customers.

At first Yu admitted that she felt panic and shouted, “Don’t kill me,” but calmed down after the alarm rang, crouching down to try to shield herself from the hostage-taker.

The hostage-taking was halted by two security guards, an elderly  female sanitation worker and two members of the public.

On seeing that the bank door had been locked from outside, the man released Yu and rushed to the door in an attempt to escape. Security guards hit him with a chair and a police baton, while the sanitation worker beat him with a mop.

Two members of the public joined in, throwing chairs at the hostage-taker as he was chased by the others. When he fell, he was quickly overpowered.

“Our bank has trained us to deal with emergencies, so we know what to do,” Yu said.

The 64-year-old cleaner Gu Jinfang said it was the first robbery she’d encountered in the bank.

“I wasn’t afraid. I thought if we meet a criminal, we should show him that we can work together to catch him,” Gu said.

“It’s our duty,” said security guard He Jianzhong.

“There’s strength in numbers,” said a passer-by surnamed Zhuo who stepped in to help.

Wang is said to have told police he owed 7 million yuan (US$1.13 million) on soccer gambling, including to his family, friends and loan sharks.


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