Bank Robber Shot by Sniper After Holding Knife to Woman's Throat

Hostages at Florida bank were unharmed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 7, 2024 6:00 PM CST
SWAT Sniper Kills Florida Bank Robber
This photo provided by the Lee County Sheriff's Office shows Sterling Ramon Alavache, 36.   (Lee County Sheriff's Office via AP)

As officers tried to get a would-be bank robber in Florida to surrender, the man decided instead to take two hostages. Then he put one of them in a headlock and held a knife to her throat—and that's when a sheriff's sniper ended it. The 36-year-old attempted robber died, but the woman he tried to use as a shield, the other hostage and everyone else at the scene just outside Fort Myers escaped without injury, the AP reports. The robbery attempt, hostage situation and sniper fire brought a bustling suburban area lined with chain restaurants, hotels, an outdoor mall and office buildings to a terrifying halt around lunchtime Tuesday as the Lee County Sheriff's Office responded with tools including a robotic dog, drones, a battering ram, and a SWAT team.

"I didn't even know the county had this," local radio host Charlie Lopez—who observed the scene as he got lunch near the Bank of America branch—told Fox 4. He watched the sniper shooting from his car and provided details to his Facebook followers. "You see, in the video, it almost looks like they lift up the sniper in the air," he said. "Then they have a battering ram. I've never experienced seeing all of Lee County's arsenal. They had drones, they had cameras." Law enforcement officers stormed the scene shortly after the call came in about a bank robbery south of Fort Myers, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said at a news conference.

Deputies rushed into the multistory building that houses the bank, securing it as dozens of terrified people ran outside, said Marceno, who described the scene as chaotic. "Quickly we were face to face with a male suspect who was armed with a knife," Marceno said. "He also claimed he had a bomb. He had two hostages at this point, and we tried to negotiate with him continuously." Then the man inside the bank grabbed the woman and put the knife to her throat. "When he presented deadly force like that, our SWAT sniper shot and killed the suspect," Marceno said. "We were in fear for her life and her safety." The attempted robber was identified as Sterling Ramon Alavache. Authorities did not immediately confirm whether he had a bomb, as he had claimed.

(More bank robbery stories.)

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