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Home  |  News  |  Cops: Man lied to teller about being held hostage, prompting chaos downtown

Cops: Man lied to teller about being held hostage, prompting chaos downtown

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Witnesses watched as police surrounded a downtown Charleston bank Wednesday afternoon with guns aimed at the front entrance. Tourists speculated that the incident was a bank robbery, a hostage situation or even a bomb threat. It turned out to be a hoax.

Charleston police say 45-year-old Tony Murray went into the Wachovia Bank around 2:45 p.m. and told a clerk that he was being held hostage. He said the man he was with ordered him to take all the money out of his account and give it to him.

Police say that was a lie and that Murray actually owed his friend money and tried to get out of the situation. Both men left the bank and were taken into custody.

The men left a black bag in the bank, which forced Charleston police to call in the bomb squad.

The bomb squad used a robot to investigate the suspicious bag. The Charleston Fire Department's hazmat team was also on scene.

Police say they found a flask, petroleum jelly and a red hat inside the bag.

Charleston police are wrapping up at the scene right now. Police say the surrounding buildings in the area are safe and not in any danger.

Foot and car traffic has been reopened in the Charleston Market area.

Murray is being charged with filing a false police report and the second man is being held on an outstanding warrant for drug charges.

Pictures sent in from witnesses show Charleston police officers apprehending a man who walks slowly out of the Wachovia bank with his hands in the air.

After putting him inside a police car, officers sharply turn back towards the bank with guns drawn. The incident began just before 3 p.m.

The bank is located across from the Charleston Market at the corner of Market and Meeting Streets. Several nearby streets were closed including Meeting Street from Cumberland to Hayne Street.

"I witnessed a massive throng of individuals with their cameras and cell phones, all fixed on the entrance to the Wachovia Bank on meeting," a witness said. "There were at least four police vehicles, one south of Market and three north."

The witness said he saw officers point their weapons on the entrance of the bank and then a man came walking out backward. He was apprehended by police.

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