SURREY — Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said a tense police standoff at the scene of a botched bank robbery in Newton today was “like watching a movie play out.”
There were helicopters in the air, a sniper on a roof, camouflaged cops, Mounties packing assault rifles, traffic blockades and lookie-loos. After six hours, a man was arrested.
It happened a stone’s throw from the Newton District RCMP station.
“Who would rob a bank half a block from the RCMP office?” Hepner wondered.
The Surrey RCMP was called to 13650 72nd Avenue at about 8:30 a.m. after receiving a report about bank robbery in progress at the TD Canada Trust. A large area surrounding the bank was soon behind police barricade tape and nearby roads were closed to pedestrians and motorists.
During the time police were on scene, they did not know if anyone was inside the bank, or if the suspect was armed.
There was also plenty of confusion. Bystanders near the scene reported that hostages had been released as police ramp up their response, but police said otherwise.
“There’s never been any hostages as far as I know,” said Surrey RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann. “Initial reports were that all staff and customers were evacuated. Officers have secured the area and set up a perimeter to ensure public safety and will remain on scene until the building is cleared.”
There have been no reports of injuries.
Scores of bystanders watched the drama unfold from behind the police tape.
Some joined in an impromptu roadside debate about how safe Newton is.
Local resident Crystal Jarrett told the Now she had planned to be at the TD bank that morning.
“I was going to take my young daughter with me. Thank goodness I didn’t,” Jarrett said as she stood just behind police tape along 137th Street.
Jarrett said she didn’t see public safety as a major issue in Newton, but Bayal Farswani, standing next to her, disagreed.
Farswani said she works at the notary public office at the corner of 137th Street and 72nd Avenue.
As she was driving into work along 72nd Avenue this morning, she said “the cops were holding the rifle toward the bank.”
Farswani doesn’t consider the area safe.
“Even though the cop station is here, it’s scary to walk sometimes, especially after 6 in the evening,” said Farswani. “A lot of things happen here. People snatching your purse, things like that.”
She said she would love to see more police patrolling.
Newton BIA director Philip Aguirre, located at 7380 King George Blvd., said there’s at least 15 police cruisers in the area.
“They’ve got the works,” he told the Now.
“I don’t want this to overshadow the great things that are happening in Newton,” said Aguirre. “We are progressing in the right direction. Things like this are not what Newton’s about. It’s not an indicator of where we’re heading.”
He added, “This can happen in any community.”
More to come…
— with files from Tom Zytaruk