Robbery suspect hospitalized after taking drugs

Police on the scene as they work to arrest a credit union robbery suspect. (Aug. 19, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The suspect in a credit union robbery has been hospitalized after he told police he ingested illegal drugs.

Grand Rapids police arrested David Thomas Saunders, 23, after a standoff that lasted more than two hours Tuesday evening. He was arraigned Wednesday on a bank robbery charge from his hospital bed.

It all unfolded on Grand Avenue near Fulton Street NE in the Midtown neighborhood. The Grand Rapids Police Department said around 9 p.m. that the suspect had been safely taken into custody.

Saunders is believed to have robbed the Lake Michigan Credit Union inside Mercy Health Saint Mary’s hospital on Jefferson Avenue SE on Monday. In that incident, the robber put a note on the counter that said he was armed, GRPD said. Before getting away with an undisclosed amount of money, police say, the robber apologized.

A surveillance photo of the Lake Michigan Credit Union robbery suspect. Courtesy: GRPD. (Aug. 18, 2014)
(A surveillance photo of the Lake Michigan Credit Union robbery suspect. Courtesy: GRPD. Aug. 18, 2014)

Images of the robber were caught on surveillance camera — some were quite clear and showed all of his face. GRPD Capt. Peter McWatters said the clarity of the picture, combined with the help of the community, helped them identify and find the suspect.

Police said Saunders shaved his head after he was seen on camera. 24 Hour News 8 caught video of him as he was being arrested.

GRPD thanked citizens for their tips about the robbery, which allowed them to identify the suspect Monday night and led them to the house on Grand.

After officers surrounded the house Tuesday evening, they ordered the occupants to come out with their hands up.

“You will not be hurt if you do as you are told,” police said over a bullhorn.

“We know you’re inside,” they said later.

Officers then put a phone on the porch of the house for the suspect to communicate with them. Saunders apparently told police he would exit the house several times before he actually surrendered.

GRPD put a suspect in to a patrol car after a standoff on Grand Avenue NE. (Aug. 19, 2014)
(Officers put a suspect in a patrol car after the standoff.)

Police waited for Saunders to give himself up instead of going into the residence.

“It all involves safety for both him and officers and citizens. Obviously, we don’t want to go in there prematurely and prompt some sort of confrontation. It’s usually best to just wait and try and have him make that decision,” McWatters said. “We’re well-versed at doing this sort of thing. That’s what we did to night and thankfully it turned out well.”

Saunders does not live at the home. Some other people who were in the house were also taken into custody, but they are not believed to be involved in the robbery.

No one was hurt in the standoff.

The area of the standoff remained blocked off with crime scene tape for about another 30 minutes after GRPD said the suspect was in custody. Police also thanked neighbors for their patience during the standoff.

Saunders was taken to the hospital after telling police he ingested illegal drugs, which may have included cocaine and/or heroin.

Wednesday, Saunders’ bond was set at $250,000 cash or surety.

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