‘Peaceful resolution’: Hourslong hostage situation at Wells Fargo bank in Minnesota ends with arrest, authorities say

After an hourslong standoff Thursday, a hostage situation at a Wells Fargo bank in Minnesota ended without any injuries and an arrest, authorities said.

“A peaceful resolution, the best outcome we could have today,” said St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said at a news conference late Thursday.

Anderson described the suspect, identified as Ray Reco McNeary, as a disgruntled customer upset about a prior transaction. The branch manager called the police, Anderson said, and a short time later police received a panic alarm from the bank.

Customers fled, Anderson said, but five bank employees were held hostage inside the bank. And then McNeary asked police to call the FBI.

“That collaborative effort, those relationships… those were valuable to us today,” Anderson said of the FBI’s quick response.

Throughout the incident, it was unclear if McNeary had a weapon, Anderson said, and investigators are still searching and clearing the bank.

According to Anderson, some of the hostages were released by McNeary, while some “made a run for the door and made it out.” The last hostage that was being held took a chance, said Anderson, and ran for the door and tactical units made entry behind him to take McNeary into custody.
Anderson told reporters that the police department has had numerous contacts with McNeary over the past decade, including violent crimes.

Just before 2 p.m., police were sent to the Wells Fargo Bank at 200-33rd Ave. S in St. Cloud, Minnesota, about 65 miles northwest of Minneapolis, for a possible robbery in progress, according to St. Cloud Police Lt. Lori Ellering.

“There are an undisclosed number of bank employees being held hostage inside,” Ellering confirmed earlier in the afternoon. “There are no reports of injuries. The SCPD and FBI are working together on this incident and are working with SWAT resources on scene.”

A bank spokesperson confirmed to the St. Cloud Times, part of the USA TODAY Network, that there was a hostage situation Wells Fargo’s St. Cloud South branch.

“We can confirm a hostage situation at Wells Fargo’s St. Cloud South branch, located at 200 33rd Avenue South,” said Staci Schiller, Wells Fargo spokesperson. “We are cooperating with local law enforcement and will do whatever we can to assist the authorities in their investigation.

“We recognize this is a traumatic moment for the community and our colleagues. The safety and security of our customers and employees is our most important priority.”

Police closed access near the bank and a crowd of onlookers gathered nearby.

The crowd was over 200 people, with many pulling their cars right up to the edge of nearby parking lots to get a good view. Police told onlookers “if you can see the window, they can see you,” to caution them, but even after police tape was set up, people still crowded to the line to watch the situation.

Many cheered when some of the hostages were released.

The first hostage was released to awaiting armed law enforcement at 6:30 p.m. CT Thursday evening, according to a video posted by a local TV reporter. In the video, someone inside also hurls what appears to be a wad of cash out the door, and the bills float in the air for several seconds.

Several dozen people had watched the spectacle at the bank from a safe distance. Many cheered when some of the hostages were released.

Police and FBI had worked with SWAT teams to watch over the bank.

Law enforcement officials initially said an unspecified number of hostages were being held by a male suspect.

St. Cloud resident Abdi Kadir told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune he was in the bank drive-through when the teller hurriedly told him to leave. As he drove off, he saw people running out the bank’s front door, he said.


‘West Side Story’: Rita Moreno declined audition to play Maria in OG Broadway production

Rita Moreno delivered a legendary performance as Anita in the 1961 film “West Side Story,” earning the Oscar for best supporting actress.

But the actress, now 89, had the opportunity to be part of “West Side Story” history years before the classic film came to be.

In a virtual reunion with former co-stars George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn, shared on HBO Max Thursday, Moreno revealed she was invited to audition for Maria in the original Broadway production, but turned it down due to nerves.

“I got cold feet,” she said. “I got scared.”

The source of her fear, Moreno said, was the prospect of working for legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins, who offered her the audition. Robbins conceived, choreographed and directed the stage musical and met Moreno while working on the 1956 film “The King and I.”
Though Moreno praised Robbins as a genius choreographer, she recalled he “could be unbelievably cruel to dancers.” After mounting the Broadway production of “West Side Story,” Robbins co-directed the film version alongside Robert Wise, but was fired mid-production.

“It’s one thing to be doing take after take until you get it right,” Moreno said. “But to work for someone as severe and difficult and demanding as Jerry Robbins in a Broadway situation scared the living daylights out of me.”

Though Moreno declined Robbins’ audition offer, the choreographer kept her in mind for the film, suggesting to Wise that they let her try out for Anita.

“I had developed into Anita,” Moreno said. “I no longer looked like a Maria to him. And I really didn’t. That would have been so wrong.”

Natalie Wood ended up starring in the film as Maria. Though Moreno praised Wood’s acting, especially during the film’s tragic finale, she took issue with an iconic Puerto Rican role going to a white actress.

“I don’t think she was anything like the Maria that I envisioned in my head. I think a great deal of it had to do with the fact that she was not a Hispanic,” Moreno said. “I found her wanting in terms of her interest in getting it as right as she could.”


Investigation announced for Investors in First Choice Bancorp (NASDAQ: FCBP) over Takeover 2021

An investigation was announced concerning whether the takeover of First Choice Bancorp is unfair to NASDAQ: FCBP stockholders.

Investors who purchased shares of First Choice Bancorp (NASDAQ: FCBP) and currently hold any of those NASDAQ: FCBP shares have certain options and should contact the Shareholders Foundation at or call +1(858) 779 – 1554.

The investigation by a law firm concerns whether certain officers and directors of First Choice Bancorp breached their fiduciary duties owed to NASDAQ: FCBP investors in connection with the proposed acquisition.

Cerritos, CA based First Choice Bancorp operates as the bank holding company for First Choice Bank that provides a range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, families, and small and medium-sized businesses.

On April 26, 2021, Enterprise Financial Services Corp (Nasdaq: EFSC), the holding company of Enterprise Bank & Trust, and First Choice Bancorp (Nasdaq: FCBP), the holding company of First Choice Bank, announced that Enterprise Financial Services Corp, Enterprise Bank & Trust, First Choice Bancorp and First Choice Bank have entered into a merger agreement pursuant to which Enterprise Financial Services Corp will acquire, in an all-stock merger, FCBP. Under the terms of the merger agreement, FCBP will merge with and into Enterprise Financial Services Corp, and First Choice will subsequently merge with and into EB&T (with Enterprise and EB&T as the surviving entities) in a transaction valued at approximately $397.7 million, or $33.40 per FCBP share, based on the closing price of Enterprise Financial Services Corp’s common stock on April 23, 2021. On a pro forma consolidated basis, the combined company would have approximately $12.7 billion in consolidated total assets as of March 31, 2021.

However, given that FCBP’s directors have already entered into agreements with the Company pursuant to which they have committed to vote their shares, which represent approximately 16% of FCBP’s issued and outstanding common stock, in favor of the acquisition, the investigation concerns whether the offer is unfair to NASDAQ: FCBP stockholders. More specifically, the investigation concerns whether the First Choice Bancorp Board of Directors undertook an adequate sales process, adequately shopped the company before entering into the transaction, maximized shareholder value by negotiating the best price, and acted in the shareholders’ best interests in connection with the proposed sale.

First Choice Bancorp reported that its annual Total Revenue rose from $84.2 million in 2019 to $92.5 million in 2020, and that its Net Income increased from $27.84 million in 2019 to $28.95 million in 2020.

Those who are current investors in First Choice Bancorp (NASDAQ: FCBP) shares have certain options and should contact the Shareholders Foundation.

Michael Daniels
Shareholders Foundation, Inc.
3111 Camino Del Rio North
Suite 423
San Diego, CA 92108
Tel: +1-(858)-779-1554

About Shareholders Foundation, Inc.
The Shareholders Foundation, Inc. is a professional portfolio monitoring and settlement claim filing service, and an investor advocacy group, which does research related to shareholder issues and informs investors of securities lawsuits, settlements, judgments, and other legal related news to the stock/financial market. Shareholders Foundation, Inc. is in contact with a large number of shareholders and offers help, support, and assistance for every shareholder. The Shareholders Foundation, Inc. is not a law firm. Referenced cases, investigations, and/or settlements are not filed/initiated/reached and/or are not related to Shareholders Foundation. The information is provided as a public service. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be relied upon.


Heads-up: A Chinese rocket that might be out of control is hurtling back to Earth. What you should know.

A section of a large Chinese rocket is falling back to Earth and is expected to hit sometime Saturday. Where will it land?

A section of a large Chinese rocket is falling back to Earth and is expected to crash sometime Saturday. It could strike an inhabited area, experts warn.

Where it will hit “cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its reentry,” the Pentagon said in a statement this week.

U.S. officials are watching the rocket’s trajectory. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is “aware and he knows the space command is tracking, literally tracking this rocket debris,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Here’s what you should know:

Did China launch a rocket?

Yes. The Long March 5B rocket carrying China’s Tianhe space station core module lifted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan province April 29. Known as the Heavenly Harmony, the space station will be China’s first to host astronauts long-term.

China plans 10 more launches to carry additional parts of the space station into orbit.

Is the Chinese rocket falling to Earth?

Yes, and “it’s potentially not good,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University, told the Guardian.

Usually discarded core rockets, or first-stage rockets, plunge to the sea soon after liftoff and don’t go into orbit like this one did.

China’s space agency has yet to say whether the core stage of the huge rocket is being controlled.

No one knows for sure. McDowell told CNN that pinpointing where debris could be headed is almost impossible because of the speed the rocket is traveling – even slight changes in circumstance drastically change the trajectory.

The debris will be dragged toward Earth by increasing collisions with molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, Space News said.

One group has made a prediction, however: The nonprofit Aerospace Corp. expects the debris to hit the Pacific Ocean near the equator after passing over eastern U.S. cities. Its orbit covers a swath of the planet from New Zealand to Newfoundland.
How big is the Chinese rocket that’s falling to Earth?

It’s roughly 100 feet long and and would be among the biggest pieces of space debris to fall to Earth.

“It’s almost the body of the rocket, as I understand it, almost intact, coming down,” Kirby said.

The newspaper Global Times, published by the Chinese Communist Party, said that the stage’s “thin-skinned” aluminum alloy exterior will easily burn up in the atmosphere and that the risk to people on the surface is extremely remote.
Has a rocket fallen to Earth before?

Yes. Last year, part of a Chinese rocket, one of the largest pieces of uncontrolled space debris ever, passed directly over Los Angeles and Central Park in New York City before landing in the Atlantic Ocean, CNN said.

The 18-ton rocket that fell last May was the heaviest debris to fall uncontrolled since the Soviet space station Salyut 7 in 1991.

China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2016 after Beijing confirmed it had lost control. In 2019, the space agency controlled the demolition of its second station, Tiangong-2, in the atmosphere.


‘A historic surge’: Anti-Asian American hate incidents continue to skyrocket despite public awareness campaign

Violence against Asian Americans and Asians has grown despite increased national attention and political action against anti-Asian hate, experts said.

There was a more than 164% increase in anti-Asian hate crime reports to police in the first quarter of 2021 in 16 major cities and jurisdictions compared with last year, according to a report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

More than 6,600 hate incidents have been reported in the year after the pandemic began in the United States, Stop AAPI Hate announced this week. More than a third of those incidents were reported this March alone, according to the organization founded last year in response to increased targeting of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic.

The new data comes afterseveral high-profile attacks. A man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stabbing two Asian women in an unprovoked attack in downtown San Francisco. Over the weekend, two Asian women were attacked in New York City by a woman who demanded they remove their masks, then struck one of them in the head with a hammer, according to police.

The assaults are the latest in a series of brutal crimes against Asians and Asian Americans, including the fatal shootings in March of eight people in Atlanta, that left six women of Asian descent dead.

‘Stop killing us’:Attacks on Asian Americans highlight rise in hate incidents amid COVID-19

“It’s not going to be likely to decrease any time soon unless we are very vigilant about it,” said Van Tran, an associate professor of sociology who studies the experience of Asian Americans at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. “We have yet to create and engender institutional change and behavioral change at the largest scale.

Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said it’s hard to tell from his data whether hate incidents are occurring at a higher rate or if the community is reporting more incidents because of increased awareness and media attention.

“I think the racism is pretty deeply felt and anger directed towards Asians is still pretty high,” he said.
Despite federal action, rise is ‘accelerated and sustained’

The uptick in anti-Asian violence was first reported in March 2020 as COVID-19 began spreading across the nation and some politicians, including President Donald Trump, blamed China for the pandemic.

Since then, lawmakers have advanced legislation, police departments have created task forces and hotlines, and community members have organized demonstrations and neighborhood watch programs.
Last month, the Senate passed legislation aimed at fighting hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with overwhelming bipartisan support.

If the House passes the law, it would be a “very strong first step,” but more structural changes are needed to eradicate the racist attitudes underlying these crimes, Tran said. He noted there are already hate crime laws that need stronger enforcement.

President Joe Biden signed an executive action condemning racism and intolerance against Asian Americans and has repeatedly expressed concern about the rise in violence.

Biden’s change in tone from the previous administration “probably” helped, but political rhetoric is not enough to quash the rise, according to Brian Levin, author of the CSUSB report and a professor of criminal justice.

Hateful mass shootings terrorize the USA:Why aren’t more shooters charged with hate crimes or terrorism?

“Even with President Biden and Congress making admirable efforts, there’s still a subculture that is vulnerable to either a shallow level of prejudice or a very deep level of prejudice,” he said. “Even people with low, shallow prejudices can act violently based on situational factors.”

Levin, who has tracked hate incidents for nearly 30 years, said the rise in anti-Asian hate crime reports may get worse as COVID-19 restrictions lift.

“We had a 146% increase in 2020, and that is now being accelerated and sustained,” he said. “This is a historic surge and it requires immediate action by civic leaders, educators and policymakers and law enforcement particularly in the area of outreach.”
Better data needed to combat ‘massive underreporting’

Although solving the issue requires a “whole society” approach, Levin said, the “most urgent” issues lie with law enforcement. Although part of the increase he’s observed may be due to increased reporting, there is “massive underreporting” of hate incidents. Better data is needed to evaluate the scope of the problem.

Fewer than half of the victims of a hate crime report it to the police, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Levin said some places such as New York City, which created an Asian Hate Crimes Task Force, do a good job of counting these crimes; in other places, they fall through the cracks. He pointed to Alabama, which was the only state to report zero hate crimes in 2019.