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Hostage Crisis: Gunman no stranger to suicidal tendencies
Josh Moody
Antelope Staff
Photo by Kevin Whetstone
Jonathan Buckley, the man who allegedly entered Wells Fargo with a gun and took hostages, is taken to a police car after surrendering.
Photo by Kevin Whetstone
Two law enforcement officers position themselves around a corner across the street.

At 10:57 a.m. on Wed., Feb. 10, a man entered downtown Wells Fargo with a shotgun and machete. Law enforcement responded to the bank in order to investigate what was believed to be a robbery in progress. The Kearney Police Department determined that 22-year-old Minden resident Jonathan Buckley was inside, armed with hostages.

Buckley demanded to speak to cameras from local TV station NTV, where he had previously worked for nearly two years as a master control operator. Buckley had been fired on Feb. 3, one week prior to taking hostages.

As the hostage drama unfolded, UNK made an effort to make students aware of the ordeal by sending out the following alert through the UNK alert system: “A hostage situation is taking place at 21st St. and 1st Avenue at the Wells Fargo Bank downtown. We ask all students and employees to assist the city of Kearney and all first responders by staying away from this area. Please monitor your local television and radio stations for more information.” In spite of the request, a crowd of onlookers assembled in the parking lot of Platte Valley State Bank to watch the drama play out.

“I work at NTV, and this guy was just fired,” said spectator Krystal Nunnenkamp, a sophomore mass media major from Hampton.  “I actually never worked with him because we had different shifts. But there have been guards the last few weeks because he was making threats to NTV. Good thing I didn’t work today so I could see this.”

Over the next two hours hostages were released one by one, bolting from Wells Fargo, their trauma worn on their faces. Law enforcement including the KPD, Buffalo County Sherriff’s office, and the FBI ushered the hostages into TierOne bank across the street, which was being used as a command post for the three agencies.

After all hostages had been released Buckley surrendered to law enforcement. Over two hours after entering the bank armed, Buckley emerged from Wells Fargo at 1:14 p.m. absent his firearm but carrying a large plastic bag filled with cash. Buckley lay face down on the ground and KPD members quickly handcuffed him and walked him to a nearby police car. Buckley was then transported to the Buffalo County Detention Center.

Buckley’s arraignment was held on Fri., Feb. 15. In the Buffalo County Courthouse Buckley found himself charged with seven total felonies. Those felonies are five counts of kidnapping, a felony robbery and using a firearm to commit a felony.

Since Buckley’s incarceration and arraignment, details have been emerging about the motive of the robbery. In court Buckley stated that it had been his intent to provoke the police to kill him. Buckley’s desire to commit suicide can be traced back to angst-ridden posts made to the Internet forum suicideproject.org. The site allows users to post questions, comments and stories about all things suicide. During June and July of 2009 a user identifying himself as “Jon”, with an e-mail address matching the one registered to Buckley’s MySpace page began posting under the screen name readytodie.

Editors note: In an effort to preserve the accuracy of Buckley's expressions, The Antelope chose not to edit, alter or otherwise change any of the following quoted posts for content, spelling, or grammar.

June 9, 2009, at 9:49 p.m. Buckley posted: “I’m 22, been suicidal for 7 years. I’ve tried killing meself 20 times in the last 7 years, sometimes I think I might be superhuman. Today is Tuesday 6/9/09, I’m going to try again…this time w/ a bug bomb inside my truck on an empty road. I’m paranoid, schizophrenic, bipolar, severely depressed, I never really had a girlfriend, don’t really have a life at all (for me it’s work, work, work). I am in Nebraska, if I live I will say HI.”

This post was followed 10 minutes later with: “By the way, if anyone wants to talk if I end up living buckleycjon@yahoo.com is my email.”

The next day, June 10, 2009 saw: “DAMN! Didn’t work.” On June 17, 2009 Buckley asked for more advice and provided his email again if anyone wished to communicate with him privately.

July 2, 2009 at 10:06 p.m. Buckley posted: “Hi, if anyone’s in the NE area and is legally able to purchase a gun please contact me. I’m unable to buy a gun…stupid gun control laws, can’t buy a gun if you’ve been released from a mental hospital. But seriously contact me.”

July 12, 2009 saw Buckley move away from the username readytodie and use his given name, Jon. At 11:03 p.m. in response to another users post Buckley typed: “prayer does not work my friend, if prayer worked I’d at least be able to ask a woman out but no, i go more and more insane everyday, my murderous rage builds, as do cannibalistic tendencies and everytime i try to kill myself which i’m between my 22nd and 23rd attempt i live.”

Posting simply as Jon on July 18, 2009 at 10:08 p.m. Buckley claimed that he would soon be leaping from the tallest building that he could find in Lincoln, he then provided his email address in case anyone wished to talk in private. Buckley’s final post came on July 21, 2009 at 6:51 p.m.: “ok, well I decided not to jump this wednesday. 1) I have a little hope. 2) denver has taller buildings.” Further posts have yet to be discovered.

Dr. Kurt Borchard, a sociology professor at UNK with a background steeped in criminology was in a downtown coffee shop when he heard the news of Buckley’s arrest. Pictures of Buckley were shown on the web. “People began to comment on his clothing and how strange he looked,” Borchard said. “I felt a sadness about that because I thought: here is someone who obviously was crying out for attention, he seemed to be in pain, hurting.”

Borchard questioned the logic of the crime, stating that the crime seemed to be more of an expressive nature. “It’s very odd to try to rob a bank that's two blocks from a police station,” Borchard said. “The firing from the job seemed to have precipitated this dramatic action.”

When informed of Buckley’s claims of a suicidal past Borchard said that it would make sense for Buckley’s mental history to be incorporated into his defense strategy by his legal counsel, which has been appointed as Buffalo County Public Defender Jeff Wirth. A call to the law office of Jeff Wirth had not been returned as of press time. Buckley remains in custody at the Buffalo County Detention Center with bail set at $1 million.

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