Police identify bank robbery, kidnapping suspect officers shot in Washington County

Posted at 2:49 PM, Sep 11, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-12 16:15:42-04

Update: Police have identified the suspect accused of bank robbery, kidnapping and leading police on a chase through Washington County.

The man shot and killed Thursday in Washington City, Utah, was 37-year-old Benjamin Schroff.

Officials said Schroff was wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying extra rounds of ammunition during the alleged crimes.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah - A man accused of robbing a St. George bank, taking hostages and leading police on a high-speed chase is dead.

Officers fatally shot the man after a search that went for several hours and spanned two cities.

Officers said Schroff robbed the Zions Bank on 700 South and River Rd. just after 1:45 p.m.

Disguised in a wig and beard, he took two women hostage and fled the scene.

Police said he was also carrying a large handgun and a shotgun. STG bank robbery photo

“The look on those two girls’ faces just made me sick,” Collins Stuart said, who witnessed the robbery from his car in the drive-thru line. “They were terrified.”

Stuart said the man forced one of the women to drive and the other to sit in the passenger seat.

Stuart called 911 and started to follow the car until police got on his tail.

"During that pursuit, shots were fired by the suspect at responding officers,” Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. David Crouse said. “We do know that some of the police cars were hit by the shots. We’re trying to determine how many.”

Officers chased the suspect from the bank into neighboring Washington City, where Schroff jumped out and ran.

He left the hostages behind.

Crouse said they were unharmed and cooperated with police.

Heavily armed officers patrolled the neighborhoods, put local schools on lockdown and told residents to stay inside.

Those who live and work in this neighborhood said it was an unnerving feeling.

“This is the first time I’ve seen something like this,” Trevor Hollands said, who was working construction at a nearby home. “It’s pretty crazy.”

SWAT officers found the suspect near the Virgin River after a three-hour hunt.

St. George officers said Schroff pointed a shotgun at authorities who told him multiple times to stand down.

Schroff didn't listen.

“Shots were fired,” Crouse said.

Two officers fired multiple times killing Schroff.

As is protocol during any officer involved shooting, the Washington County Attorney’s Office will head an investigation into the shooting.

The St. George Police Department is also working with the FBI to investigate the details of the robbery that led to the shooting.