Cops: Hoax had bomb squad searching bank, evacuating streets
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A chaotic day in downtown Charleston ended up as nothing more than a hoax.
Authorities arrested two men at the Wachovia Bank on Meeting and Market Streets and searched the building for a possible bomb. Both men will go before a judge at bond court Thursday at 2 p.m.
"The first suspect exited slowly, walking backwards with his arms extended. He walked 35 feet to the nearest police vehicle," George Gatgounis, a witness, said.
Police say it all started when Tony Murray, 45, walked into the bank and told the clerk that the man he was with was holding him hostage.
According to law enforcement, Murray claimed the man had a gun and told him to withdraw money from his account. The clerk called police, and they swarmed the building.
Police say Murray admitted that he wasn't held hostage, that he actually owed the other man Cassius Clay Davis, 47, money and made up the whole story to avoid paying him.
"We kept waiting, and we thought it was over, and then a cop said 'move back there might be something in the building,'" Gayle Voelker, a witness, said.
A Live 5 viewer shot video of the two men walking backward to police, but what we don't see is a black bag left in the bank by one of the men.
That's when the bomb squad was called in. Meeting Street from Cumberland to Market Streets was closed to drivers and pedestrians for several hours during the investigation.
That something, cops suspected, was a bomb. As it turns out, the black bag had nothing dangerous inside, just a hat, petroleum jelly, and a flask.
Murray was charged with filing a false police report in reference to a felony.
For people who saw what happened at the Wachovia Bank on Meeting Street, they say it was like watching a Hollywood movie.
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.
"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."
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