Man who held Wheaton bank customers hostage was going through difficult emotional time, relatives say
'It just wasn't him,' his father says
By Azam Ahmed | Chicago Tribune reporter
- 10:30 PM CDT, September 6, 2008
A man who committed suicide after holding a dozen people hostage at a Wheaton bank Friday was on antidepressants and going through a rough emotional patch but was not a bad man, his family said.
Michael Long, 42, was a loving father of three who asked authorities about the welfare of an officer he had injured before taking over the bank, his father said.
"There had to be something wrong somewhere because he would never have done anything like this, not if he was in his right mind," said Melvin Long, 68, of Chillicothe. Melvin Long said he didn't know whether his son was taking medication or whether the medication had caused the erratic behavior.
Long was a truck driver and enjoyed working on his Jeep Wrangler and taking his young children to Six Flags, his father said.
He was good man and a good father," Melvin Long said.
The situation at the Wheaton Bank & Trust, 211 S. Wheaton Ave., began about 1:30 p.m. when a 911 call reported a hit-and-run in the parking lot.
When an officer responded, Long grabbed him from behind and put a knife to his throat, police said. The two struggled, and the officer was slashed across the arm. Long wrested the gun from the officer and ran into the bank.
Police would not identify the officer, saying only that he was a 10-year member of the Wheaton force. He suffered superficial wounds, police said.
Once Long was in the bank, he ordered the 10 to 12 people inside to the floor. Long released 10 hostages as police negotiated with him during the next several hours, but two remained when he fatally shot himself in the head about 4:15 p.m., police said.
The situation occurred in the western suburb's downtown, and police evacuated homes and businesses and halted commuter rail lines.
Long grew up in Chillicothe, about 20 miles north of Peoria, and lived in Schaumburg before moving to Wheaton. He had two young children with his wife and a teenage son in Peoria from a previous marriage, family said.
Relatives said Long rarely divulged his personal business, but they never expected what transpired Friday. "Whatever problems he may have had he kept to himself and didn't share with the family," Melvin Long said.