COBB COUNTY, Ga. - The man who held workers hostage at a local bank had a machete in his backpack, but no explosives, Channel 2 Action News has learned.
Brian Easley, a U.S. Marine Veteran, walked into a Wells Fargo bank on Windy Hill Road on July 7 claiming he had a bomb.
He held two employees hostage inside the bank for hours, at one point calling Channel 2 Action News and speaking with our employee for 45 minutes.
During that call, he told Channel 2’s Stephanie Steiger that he had a bomb that could “level the room.” He said he was upset with Department of Veteran’s Affairs, who had stolen his money.
Easley was shot and killed by a Cobb County SWAT member when they went in to rescue the hostages.
“I wish it would have turned out differently. I do,” Cobb County police Chief Mike Register said days after the deadly standoff. “My heart goes out to the young man and his family, but we have a job to do and we did our job based on not what we wanted to do, but what he made us do.”
More than a month later, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it has virtually completed its investigation.
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GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles said after Easley’s death, they found a machete in the backpack he was carrying. Because the investigation is still ongoing, Miles says she can only release limited information. Whether Easley actually took out the machete at any point during the standoff is unknown, but the Cobb police major who was in charge of the investigation during the standoff says it was never mentioned.
“You were being updated regularly?” Winne asked Maj. Dale Bolenbaugh.
“Yes, fairly regularly, yes,” Bolenbaugh said.
“You hear anything about a machete being known of during the event itself, while it was going on?” Winne asked.
“No, did not during the event,” Bolenbaugh said.
Easley’s brother told Winne via text that Easley may have had the machete with him for protection on the streets.
“He would never hurt anyone. He was taught to defend himself,” Calvin Easley said.
Miles says GBI agents have already performed more than 60 separate investigative actions in the case, including conducting between 40 to 50 witness interviews and reviewing surveillance video from the bank
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds says once the GBI turns the file over to his office, the major case unit will review it and decide whether to ask the GBI for additional information.
Eventually, it will be presented to a Cobb County Grand Jury.
Attorney Lance Lorusso says his client has cooperated fully with the GBI investigation.
Channel 2 confirmed Brian Easley served in the Marine Corps from January 2002 until December 2005.
He also served in Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
We learned Easley went to the Atlanta regional VA office on July 3 to discuss an issue with his benefits. An employee gave him paperwork to fill out, but officials say Brian Easley never returned.
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