‘I’m not going to hurt you’: Hostage tells of being held at gunpoint at Romeoville bank

‘We did not know what his intentions were’

Romeoville Bank Robbery.  May 10.

Sandra Mendoza said she was at the Fifth Third Bank in Romeoville last week to take care of an account for a Romeoville High School booster organization.

After going back to her car to retrieve something, Mendoza said she went back into the building at 275 S. Weber Road and heard three gunshots. She said the man, later identified by the Will County Coroner as Gregory Walker, 65, started yelling at those inside the building to bring out chairs so he could barricade the door.

Mendoza described an intense scene and said the patrons and bank employees inside were crying and some were “getting hysterical.”

“A lot of us were scared,” she said. “We did not know what to do.”

Romeoville Bank Robbery.  May 10.

Walker directed the hostages to call law enforcement to respond to the bank. Mendoza said she was one of the individuals who tried to call police. She said she thought it would be better to comply with Walker’s demands.

“We did not know what his intentions were,” she said. “Obviously, we thought it was a robbery.”

But eventually, Mendoza said, Walker became much calmer and even tried to reassure the hostages that he was not there to hurt them. Mendoza gave the Herald-News a 47-second smartphone video she took during the May 10 incident with Walker as he appeared to be speaking into a bank phone.

He was wearing what appeared to be a purple shirt and a black hat.

At one point during the video, Walker stepped away from the phone near the building entrance, holding his weapon, and walked toward a nearby counter.

“You’re going to be alright ma’am. Stop crying, OK?” the video shows him saying. “You have my word. You will walk out of here. I promise you.”

Walker added, “I’m not going to hurt you, OK?”

He went on to tell them that his life, “don’t matter.”

One of the hostages could be heard saying, “Yes it does.”

Mendoza said she remembered Walker even asking if water could be provided for one of the hostages who was especially upset. She described Walker as being “compassionate” toward the hostages.

“He just totally turned his vibe,” she said.

Mendoza said Walker also described difficult events in his life, including the passing of his mother. She added that Walker explicitly said he wished to die that day.

Eventually, Walker allowed the hostages to exit the bank, as police surrounded the building. Mendoza said they were able to safely make it to a nearby Hair Cuttery, before being interview by police.

After the hostages left, police said, the Will County SWAT team set up in front of the bank. As Walker began to exit, a member of the SWAT team fired one round at him.

Romeoville Bank Robbery.  May 10.

He was taken to the AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center in Bolingbrook, where he was pronounced dead.

Police have not said what Walker’s intention was, although Romeoville police said in a statement the day of the incident that they did not believe his actions to have been a bank robbery.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police did not answer specific questions about the incident, including how many people were in the building when Walker entered.

“This is an active and ongoing investigation,” ISP spokeswoman Melaney Arnold wrote in an email. “ISP will coordinate the release of information with the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.”

A neighbor at the apartment complex listed as Walker’s residence did not want to comment on the record of Walker’s state of mind leading up to May 10.

The neighbor, who asked to not be identified in this story, did describe Walker as a “loner” but also friendly.

“He was a good guy,” the neighbor said.

The neighbor added that others living in the apartment complex were shocked to hear the news of Walker’s actions, and some gathered outside that day and prayed together.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

• Herald-News reporter Felix Sarver contributed to this report.