The masked man with a gun directed a hostage in the New Year's Eve bank robbery to call 911 with his cellphone.
"I'm at the Chase Bank in Pearland," a man told the dispatcher evenly. "I'm one of the hostages inside."
His captor, Samuel Glen Bonner, took the phone and demanded police move away from the front door.
"Happy New Year's, ma'am," Bonner said, becoming frantic. "Here's the deal. They have me blocked in. I just want to get away. If they don't move those cars, I will shoot one of them in the head."
The recording, played at a federal trial in Houston Tuesday, ended with a dispatcher telling Bonner an officer on the scene would call him back right away.
Bonner, 41, pleaded guilty to his federal indictment Monday with no plea deal, confirmed FBI Special Agent Shauna Dunlap. Bonner held several Chase Bank employees and customers hostage in the 2010 standoff that ended with his surrender.
His alleged co-conspirators - Raymond Tierra Johnson, 32, and Larry Smith, 37 - pleaded not guilty and are on trial this week. Johnson faces five charges, and Smith faces 11 for their alleged roles in a string of 2010 bank robberies from Cypress to Pearland that netted $138,500 in one of the violent takeovers.
Each count of bank robbery facing the defendants is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, or 25 years if a firearm is displayed.
"They did it for money. They did it for greed, but ladies and gentlemen don't forget it also was manipulation," prosecutor Suzanne Elmilady said in her opening statement. "The mastermind, the kingpin if you will, the dispatcher, the controller, was Mr. Larry Smith."
She promised that two co-conspirators will take the stand and lead them inside the 14-man robbery crew. Bonner is not one of the men who will testify, Dunlap said.
James Alston, the court appointed attorney for Johnson, asked the jury to question why alleged co-conspirators would testify after receiving a plea deal.
Details of standoff
During Tuesday's testimony, Pearland officers and investigators provided firsthand details of the nearly six-hour standoff, and two hostages tried not to break down as they told the story of what happened inside.
Bank manager Efrain Ruiz told jurors he heard the doors bang open louder than usual and looked up from his desk to see three masked men pushing through them, some with guns outstretched.
The men yelled for everybody to get down or they would shoot. Gloria Valdez, a teller, choked up during her testimony as she recalled that day.
"Two men were coming toward me with guns and telling me to open the door," Valdez said. "I just stood there frozen. I didn't open the door. I think another teller did."
Ruiz, obeying commands not to look at the men, just heard their demands, a man pacing the lobby and Valdez's scream when they threatened to kill her if she didn't open the vault, which she tried to explain she couldn't do alone. She needed the manager, Ruiz.
"I tried to prepare myself for whatever was going to happen," he said.
Two men beat him as they hauled him between the vault and his office twice, demanding he open the vault for which he only had one half of the needed codes.
Shaken, he said he fumbled as he searched his desk for anything to appease the robbers. One pointed a gun at his head and told him he had five seconds to come up with a vault code.
"He counted down," Ruiz said, fighting back tears. "I closed my eyes. I remember wondering if it would hurt."
The man reached zero.
Ruiz opened his eyes and heard someone say they needed to leave. The robbers gathered back in the lobby and ran out the front door. Ruiz thought it was over, but they came back in and ran for the back door he told them wasn't locked.
"I looked out the front doors, and there was a policeman," Ruiz said.
He went outside with this hands up, repeatedly telling patrol officer Trey Durant, "They're going out the back."
Officer nabs suspect
Todd Ritz, who was a Pearland patrol officer at the time, remembered hearing the urgent robbery call over the radio just after he pulled over someone for a traffic stop.
As he rushed toward the bank in his cruiser, he heard over the radio that shots had been fired then saw a man running away from the bank. He pulled up to the gas station next door and ordered the suspect to lay on the ground.
Johnson did and was taken into custody.
Ritz said he passed Johnson to another officer and joined Durant at the back of the bank.
Durant told the jury that he fired five shots at an armed suspect who disobeyed commands to put down his gun as he attempted to get into a bystander's Hummer then ran back into the bank.
He and Ritz were guarding the back door when they saw it briefly open. Ritz said a man with his arm around a woman's neck and a gun to her head peeked out.
Detective Cecil Arnold pulled his unmarked police car into the parking lot near the front door and moments later was told to call the man holding hostages inside.
"I had 60 seconds to move the vehicle or he'd shoot the hostages," Arnold, a veteran hostage negotiator, told the jury. "I got that pushed back to six minutes then some hostages were released."
Almost six hours after the incident started, Arnold negotiated for Bonner to release the final hostages and surrender.