Man Charged for Threat at Downtown Mpls Bank
A two-block section of downtown Minneapolis was evacuated at lunch hour Friday.
Police were in search of a man making bomb threats inside a crowded bank.
By early afternoon, they had apprehended 33-year-old Philip James Pariso, a man with only a minor criminal record. He was charged him with kidnapping and making terroristic threats.
No one was injured or harmed.
Investigators say Pariso entered M&I bank at the corner of 6th and Nicollet in the Gaviidae Common Building. He came through the skyway, on the bank's second level. An eyewitness in the bank says Pariso put on a bullet proof vest and strapped guns onto his legs.
It's still unclear what Pariso wanted.
According to Minneapolis Police Department Inspector Eddie Frizzell, at first Pariso expressed a desire "to conduct what could commonly be said to be regular bank business."
But that's when people in nearby businesses began to hear a man screaming.
"A loud deep voice, sounded like someone who was upset," Teri Strehler. She was working two floors above the bank and watched as law enforcement quickly moved in. "Police officers were on the ground with guns and they came up and escorted us out," she said.
"I was up front doing makeup and they said you all have to go," said Elizabeth Marqvardt. She was working in a salon immediately across the hall from the bank. She says police told her if Pariso was truly armed, "we would be first hit."
Everyone inside the bank managed to get out on their own. Police described Pariso as "disgruntled" when they found him. Frizzell said he was "somewhat of a complacent suspect being led out by the negotiators upon his surrender."
Strehler says the uncertainly of the situation was nerve-wracking. "When you keep getting escorted farther and farther away, your heart starts racing thinking maybe there's a bomb in here or something."
Frizzell said, "The bomb squad did clear the area and examined not only the book bag he (Pariso) had but any personal gear that he brought in there to make sure it was safe for the public to return."
By 2:30 p.m., the evacuation order had been lifted. Down on Nicollet Mall, street vendor Blaine McCutchen resumed selling hot dogs, despite the yellow police tape that surrounded him. "Obviously you can see the rope is tied to my cart," he said. Despite the drama, McCutchen said he actually felt safer than ever working downtown, due to the increased summer police patrols assigned to the area.
Earlier in the day, police say Pariso went to a local media outlet, WCCO-TV, in an attempt to get someone to listen to some kind of concern or problem he was having; he didn't specify what it was.
According to a WCCO source, the station turned him away and told him to make an appointment. A short time later he left a voice mail on WCCO's news tip line saying that if they didn't call him back, they would hear about him later--down at M&I bank.
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org