NEW YORK – The people of Norfolk, Neb., were still shaking their heads Friday, trying to comprehend the deadliest bank holdup in the history of the state.
"We're used to bank robberies," resident Ron Kortje told the Lincoln Journal Star. "When you have to kill five people, that just makes me sick."
Four employees and a customer were shot dead at the U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk Thursday, and another customer was wounded in the shoulder shortly after three men walked into the building, apparently in an attempted robbery, while an accomplice waited outside.
The four employees who died were: Lola Elwood, 43, of Norfolk; Jo Mausbach, 42, of Humphrey; Lisa Bryant, 29, of Norfolk and Samuel Sun, 50, of Norfolk. Customer Evonne Tuttle, 37, of Stanton, also was found dead at the scene.
Norfolk Police Chief Bill Mizner would not identify the wounded customer, a woman who was released after treatment at a local hospital.
"You just think, it doesn't happen in Norfolk -- it happens other places, it doesn't happen here," Mizner said.
The killings stunned the community of 25,000 people about 90 miles northwest of Omaha.
Some banks closed their lobbies and directed customers to drive-in windows. Schools went into lockdown mode as officials recommended parents come pick up their children at the end of the school day or earlier. A crisis response team was sent to several schools near the bank to be there for children of the deceased.
The Lincoln Journal Star profiled the victims.
Bryant, a 29-year-old banker, was described as quiet, smart and sweet.
"There's nothing bad to say about her," said fellow high school graduate Brenda Schmeichel.
Bryant recently got married to Rob Bryant of Norfolk and the two honeymooned in the Caribbean and settled down in the town. Bryant had worked at the bank since 1996 and had a bachelor's degree in finance from Wayne State College. Her parents are farmers and her grandparents live nearby.
Elwood would lend anyone a hand.
The 43-year-old woman often drove her children, Lovay, 12, and Cody, 9, to school at 6:30 a.m. then herself to work at the bank, where she was an assistant manager and had worked since 1989.
Neighbor Ed Greer said Elwood was a soccer mom who loved to go to her children's games and fill her neighbor in on how her kids were faring. The family loved to camp and fish.
Mausbach, 42, had been a teller at the bank since 1985. Described as a very private person, people who knew her said "her kids were her life." She and her husband, David, have two children, a girl in seventh grade and a boy in third. She used to frequent the local bowling alley in Humphrey, where she and her husband lived since they got married in the late 1980s.
"Anytime there's a young person like that (gone), it's a blow to the community," said Corrine Haiar, co-owner of the bowling alley.
Tuttle worked as an editorial assistant at the Stanton Register, the local newspaper. A single mom of Virginia, age 5, and Sarah, age 3, she had many friends in the 1,549- population town and "was awesome with customers," said her boss, Laura Erbst. Tuttle began working at the paper in May and had lived in Stanton for three years. She previously lived in Norfolk and attended Northeast Community College and Wayne State College.
"She just had a personality that just didn't stop," Erbst said, adding that Tuttle had an "absolutely beautiful voice and a fantastic mind."
Tuttle had the day off on Thursday and was on her way to Lincoln to pick up her daughter at Nebraska Wesleyan University. But she stopped first at U.S. Bank.
Sun, 50, lived with his mother about 20 blocks from the bank. He moved from Wisconsin with his then-wife, Joan, to Norfolk 14 years ago and worked at the bank for eight years. He is described as a "true family man" who liked to work around the house and in the yard. His ex-wife, Joan, said, "he lived for his kids."
Many people interviewed said the killing will change the town forever.
"With that many dead, everybody's going to know somebody that was related or was their friend," local coffee shop owner Shari Steiner told the Lincoln Star Journal.
Madison County Attorney Joe Smith said a bond hearing and probable cause hearing are expected for each of the four suspects now in custody.
"I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families involved in this senseless tragedy and my determination to do everything in my power and law enforcement's power to bring the individuals who committed this horrific crime to justice," Gov. Mike Johanns said in a statement Thursday.
Meanwhile, Johanns fielded several phone calls from Nebraska's Hispanic population, who were worried since the suspects are Hispanic.
"These are very, very tragic deaths," he said, "but Nebraskans are just not about to go out and seek retribution against innocent people."