UPDATE — 3:25 p.m.: A male suspect was arrested without incident at 2:20 p.m., Surrey RCMP said in a media release. He was the only person found inside the building.
SURREY, B.C. — Police are attempting to negotiate with a man who could be in a Surrey, B.C., bank that was evacuated early Tuesday, but said it's not known if he is inside.
RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann said staff and customers made it outside by the time officers surrounded the bank after multiple calls about a robbery in progress at 8:30 a.m.
"We don't know if there's somebody still inside or not,'' he said. "Nobody saw the suspect leave with certainty, and we can't see anybody through the windows, but that's not to say they're not hiding behind the counters or something or in the bathroom or watching TV in the lunchroom.''
Schumann said police have used loudspeakers to try and communicate with anyone in the building but have had no response.
At one point, more than 50 RCMP officers were on scene. (Photo: Ben Nelms/CP)
Businesses and roads were shut down to ensure public safety surrounding the TD Canada Trust branch at a shopping plaza on 72nd Avenue in the Newton area, he said.
Schumann said witnesses reported that the suspect indicated he had a weapon but police have not confirmed the existence of one.
Patrol officers, detectives from the robbery section, emergency response teams and the dog unit are on the scene.
Local resident Naida Robinson said more than 50 officers from the RCMP and Transit Police were on the scene and had closed down several strip malls and a community centre.
She said several officers carrying rifles were outside the bank and on the ground while others were on nearby rooftops.
Robinson, a member of the Newton Community Association, said dozens of local businesses had been evacuated and that employees had gathered outside at one point.
Robinson, who advocates for the troubled community but doesn't speak for the association, said she's dismayed that the area is again in the news because of crime.
"I don't think anybody's going to be surprised, disappointed that it's another one of those things that Newton's going to be in the news again,'' she said.
"I don't think anybody's going to be surprised."
A woman who works at a nearby store and did not wish to give her name said officers came by and told her to stay away from the area.
Another employee at a business about a block from the bank said police would not allow her to enter her workplace and that she went in through a back door.
Photographs posted on media websites showed a nearby four-lane boulevard lined with businesses blocked off with police tape and a number of police cruisers in the area.
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