THE TRUE STORY OF GEORGE EMIL BANKS
A Hero in the Midst
Robert Brunson, a resident of Wilkes-Barre, friend and former co-worker of George Banks, heard reports on the news of the standoff on Monroe Street and felt compelled to help. The unemployed and divorced 36-year-old man quickly drove to the scene, and asked the permission of Wilkes-Barre Chief of Police John Swim to talk with Banks, I feel I can talk to him and would like a chance to try, Brunson told Swim. With few options left on the table, Swim agreed. Brunson, escorted to a point only a few yards from the home, called out to Banks:
Brunson: George, can I talk to you before you die? If you came here to die, so be it. But let me talk to you before you do it.
Banks: Its a good day to die!
Brunson: No, there are people that care. I cared enough to come down here to talk to you.
Banks: No, man, they are using you.
Brunson: No, I want to be here. If you fire one shot, the police will shoot you, just like you or I would do if we were in the (prison) tower. Take the first step, man. Ill be there to walk every step with you.
Banks: I have problems I cant deal with. I want to be treated with dignity.
Brunson: George, listen man. Everybody needs a crutch sometimes. Ill be yours. Ill put my body between you and these men with guns. But you have to trust the man (police).
Following the conversation with Brunson, Banks remained silent, contemplating his situation. Finally, four hours after the standoff began, at 11:17 a.m., Banks agreed to come out. He smashed out a rear window in the house and asked that the officers on the scene hold their fire. He was then instructed to hand his weapon to Patrolman Donald Smith through the broken window and surrender himself out the front door of the home into the custody of police. Banks complied.
During an initial search of the home, investigators discovered three 30-round clips and approximately 300 rounds of ammunition. Also noted was that Banks had barricaded all of the windows with furniture and large appliances, and had a mirror set up in order to watch the front and rear doors from a second floor vantage point.
This was a siege like no other in local history. The city of Wilkes-Barre was left in a state of shock following the bloody massacre. Many residents could not understand why Banks, an outwardly stable man, decided to systematically kill 13 innocent human beings for no apparent reason.