ELYRIA — It was a dramatic scene that played out throughout downtown Elyria: An alleged bank robber, trying to elude police, darts and weaves between buildings and races down railroad tracks before climbing down an embankment into the Black River.
Officers from three police departments tracked him the whole way — finally corralling him in a rocky outcropping in the river about an hour later. There, despite his repeated protests that he wouldn’t give himself up, he finally did as officers — weapons drawn — surrounded him.
The suspect, Bryan Long, 26, of Columbia Station, is accused of robbing the Fifth-Third Bank on Broad Street at 2:05 p.m. Thursday. He already had had police searching for him as he is accused of walking away from the Lorain/Medina Community Based Correctional Facility on Sunday.
Police said Long and another inmate, Brandon Bokar, were taking out the trash at the facility and never returned. Bokar was captured Monday at Elyria Public Library’s West River Road branch.
By Thursday evening, Long had been charged with robbery and obstructing official business. Lt. Andy Eichenlaub said Long may also face escape charges stemming from the incident at the low-level correctional facility.
The incident Thursday started when Long walked into the bank and handed a teller a note. He did not display a weapon, police said.
Officers quickly descended on the bank after they were called, and they set up a perimeter around the downtown area. An officer soon spotted Long running on the railroad tracks behind the bank, and police brought in a police dog and walked the area around the bank to track him.
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Bill Koerner, an appliance technician at Bill Baker’s Inc., a company near the bank on East Avenue, said he witnessed the suspect walk away from the bank, putting something in his pants pocket as he walked, before he took off running down the road and climbing over a wall.
Koerner said it did not look like the man was carrying a weapon or another object.
Koerner said since he began working at Bill Baker’s 12 years ago, he has witnessed two robberies, although the suspects never get far.
“Last year a guy robbed the bank and came through the back door,” Koerner said.
Koerner said the man was captured, however.
“There’s nowhere to go,” said Mike Casey, another employee at the store.
Police finally cornered Long as he was treading water in the Black River, and officers talked tough to get him to come out.
“Do not think for a second I will not shoot you,” Officer James Rider yelled to Long, as he kept his weapon pointed at him.
Long wasn’t eager to comply.
“I’m not (expletive) going back to prison, man!” he yelled.
Later, Long asked police for a phone to use to call his mother.
Employees at Fifth Third Bank were unable to comment on the incident Thursday, but a spokeswoman for the bank said they were working with law enforcement.
Police said Long made a statement about his involvement in the robbery and was in possession of the money taken in the robbery. Approximately $3,000 of it was recovered, but police did not say if that is how much was taken.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.