Hostage fears of man who snapped armed 'robber'

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The Independent US

A photographer who caught on film an armed robbery suspect as the man fled before being shot by police in the US said today that he feared being held hostage.

David Proeber, photo editor of the Pantagraph newspaper in central Illinois, took almost 50 frames of the gunman as he stepped out of his sports utility vehicle brandishing a black handgun following a high-speed chase.

In one image, the man is pictured staring directly into the lens from behind his sunglasses, smoking, as he made a hasty exit from his car with his finger on the trigger of the gun.

"His eyes met mine," Mr Proeber told the Pantagraph.

"And the next thing I knew, he leaped over the barricade and took a few steps at the car."

Mr Proeber, who was in a white Mitsubishi car marked with the newspaper's logo, said he feared he would be taken hostage by the man, named locally as Robert Sylvester.

"I didn't think he was going to hurt me," he said.

"But I did have a real fear of being inserted into a police story."

Mr Proeber said he ducked as the man, accused of robbing four banks, came towards him and floored the accelerator of his car - but not before taking 47 photographs of the incident in a three-minute period.

He told the newspaper he stopped about 150ft down the hard shoulder as he heard gunshots.

"I looked up in the rear view mirror as I was braking and saw police running toward him," he said.

The man was lying on the pavement as an Illinois State Police trooper and a second police officer handcuffed him.

Police would not confirm the identity of the gunman involved in the incident, which happened on Monday afternoon on the Interstate 55-74 bypass in Normal, Illinois.