Bank robber takes seat in lobby, waits for cops

SAN DIEGO - A man who allegedly robbed a Clairemont Mesa bank Monday afternoon holed up inside along with some employees, resulting in a 40-minute standoff that ended with his surrender.

The holdup at the Chase bank branch office in the 5800 block of Balboa Avenue was reported about 1:15 p.m., according to San Diego police.

According to police, the suspect handed a demand note to a teller, who handed over cash. The teller then notified the manager what had happened while the suspect walked away.

The manager, following protocol, secured the bank's doors, not realizing the suspect had taken a seat in the lobby and was still inside.

When police arrived, they quickly realized they had a situation on their hands. Tactical officers were called to the scene and after ensuring that the bank's employees and customers were safe, they approached the suspect.

Police say the suspect stood up quickly, reached for his waistband and said "I have a gun. I have a gun." They believe he was possibly attempting 'suicide by cop.'

Negotiators talked with the suspect for about a 1/2 hour before the man decided to give up. According to police, he laid down on the floor and was taken into custody without incident. The bank's money was recovered.

The suspect has been identified as 35-year-old Michael Eschwege. Police say he was armed with a full-size Airsoft pistol, which looked real.

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