WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Police say a man armed with a knife, identified as 33-year-old Brandon Tracewski from Waymart, took employees of a Convenience store hostage. That began a dramatic chain of events that led to his arrest and a bomb squad being called in.
Investigators tell Eyewitness News this was a very tenuous situation and could have ended very badly.
A witness named Martin Shanahan told us, “Actually it made me hesitate before I got out of the car. I wanted to see what this guy was up to and my instincts were correct.”
Shanahan was parked in front of the Turkey Hill on North Washington Street in Wilkes-Barre and was about to go in an buy a pack of cigarettes when the drama unfolded before his eyes.
“Basically took the store hostage. He came from the side of the building dressed in a very weird get-up looked like he had armor on his firearms. Shut the door aggressively, licked it. Took the store over. Cops showed up shortly after,” said Shanahan.
Chief Joe Coffay, of Wilkes-Barre Police Department, commented, “the initial call that it was an armed robbery and hostage. The suspect was in the Turkey Hill with hostages.”
Wilkes-Barre Police and State Troopers surrounded the store. They sealed off a three block area.
Chief Coffay says, “we negotiated with the fact the hostages could be released and then we continued to negotiate with him until he turned himself in.”
At least three hostages, Turkey Hill Employees, came out the front door. About hour later Tracewski surrendered, but the drama wasn’t over yet.
Chief Coffay says, “he made the claim that he had a bomb that’s why we have bomb squad coming to clear the Turkey Hill.”
The Scranton Bomb squad used a robot to enter the store three times. It removed two backpacks and a floor mat.
An officer later dragged a trash can from inside the store… there was no bomb.
Police are not saying what the motive was for the incident as they are still investigating. Tracewski is locked up unable to post bail.