ROMEOVILLE, Ill. — A Romeoville hostage opened up Thursday to describe what the tense moments were like inside the bank.
As Will County SWAT surrounded the Fifth Third Bank branch on South Weber Road Tuesday afternoon, Sandra Mendoza was one of the eight hostages.
“When I walked back in the bank I walked in the minute I stepped into the office I heard the shots, three shots,” Mendoza said. “Once he fired the shots, he threw the chairs in front of the door to barricade us in. He started yelling, ‘everyone come out from where you’re at and come in the lobby.'”
Mendoza used her cell phone to record the man, who told the hostages he was not going to harm them.
“‘You’re going to be alright ma’am stop crying ok? You have my word you will walk out of here I promise you’” Mendoza recalled. “He told one of the ladies ‘stop crying, because I’m not going to hurt you. You are going to go home.'”
The armed man communicated with police over a phone in the bank. Mendoza said during that time, he did reload his gun. For the next half hour — the man told the hostages about his rough childhood, that he was estranged from his family and the reason why he was at the bank.
“He had issues with the bank, his exact words,” Mendoza said. “‘They screwed me over, I’m in debt, it’s unbelievable, I’m here because this is the last day of my life.'”
After negotiating with police, the man let all of the hostages go. Later on in the day, SWAT members entered the bank — shooting the man one time. He later died at the hospital.
Mendoza, a mother of three, is grateful she made it home to her family.
“When he let us out, in my mindset I felt like hugging him because I felt so bad for him, a lot of us did,” Mendoza said. “Tomorrow is not promised, this is exactly what happened to me that Tuesday afternoon. I did not know this was going to happen, this happened now, I’m here. This is why I always say ‘let’s live life to the fullest.'”