Customer arrested after NatWest staff member held at gunpoint

A customer at a NatWest bank in Birmingham has been arrested after a staff member was held hostage at gunpoint.

The 60-year-old is understood to have pulled the weapon from a bag before holding the woman in an interview room at 11.45am on Friday, West Midlands Police said.

Armed police surrounded the building and negotiators were sent to the scene in Bristol Road South, Northfield, as other staff hid in an adjacent room.

But the man, believed to be from the local area and a customer at the branch, left the bank and surrendered to police at around 12.50pm. Police said no threats or demands for money were made and no-one was injured.

The man has been taken to hospital for assessment and is expected to later be questioned on suspicion of firearms offences.

Samantha Lacey, 32, from Northfield, said she arrived at the bank to make a deposit but found "the bank door was shut".

"There were about six people outside. When I asked what happened they said a man walked in pulled a gun out and told all customers to get out," she said.

"That was at 11.40. I believe it took the police 15 minutes to respond."

Chief Inspector Shaun Phillips said: "Officers quickly surrounded the bank, set up a street cordon and established phone contact with some staff members who were hiding in a back room.

"It's understood the man was with one female staff member while other staff were lying low in another back room. No customers were caught up in the incident and no-one was hurt.

"The man's motive is unclear at this stage but it doesn't appear this was a robbery attempt.

"Staff did exactly the right thing in remaining calm and I'd like to praise their actions in what was undoubtedly a scary situation. Thankfully we managed to quickly bring it to an end very quickly."