Robbery suspect shot after taking a hostage outside Takoma Park bank
Several injured, including a Prince George's officer
This story was updated Friday, Jan. 28, 2011 at 6:50 p.m.
A bank robbery suspect who took a hostage Friday at a Capital One Bank in Takoma Park was shot and killed by police, according to Prince George's County police spokesman Maj. Andrew Ellis.
The robber, a Hispanic man in his 40s, walked into the Capital One Bank at the intersection of University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue around 9:22 a.m. Friday, armed with a 9 mm handgun and a fake bomb made of aluminum foil, duct tape, copper wires and Styrofoam, according to Asst. Chief Drew Tracy of Montgomery County Police Department's Investigative Division.
The man, wearing a hood, a mask covering his face, a long parka jacket and gloves, walked up to a teller and demanded money. He ignored requests in English and Spanish to drop his weapon, Tracy said.
A teller at the bank called police and said there was a man in the bank with a suspicious package, but hung up the phone before giving any further details, according to Takoma Park's Police Chief Ronald Ricucci. Another teller ran out of the bank and called police from a cell phone in a nearby store.
A Takoma Park police officer who was in the area arrived on the scene within a minute, followed by backup from police departments in Prince George's County, Takoma Park and Montgomery County. Among the officers was Cpl. Douglas Malarkey, who was recently cleared after an officer-involved shooting on Thanksgiving Day in Takoma Park.
During the robbery, a customer of the bank tried to grab the gun and got beat up by the robber, Tracy said.
The six people inside the bank were all taken hostage, and one hostagea woman who was a teller at the bankwas held by the robber's side as police arrived outside. The robber took a bag of money, which contained a dye pack, and left the building 14 minutes after he first entered the bank, Tracy said.
As the robber left the bank with the female teller in tow, the dye pack exploded and he slipped on a patch of ice, Tracy said. The hostage attempted to run away, but was followed by the robber.
"The suspect followed after her with his weapon pointed at her, at which point the officers opened fire," Tracy said.
But the brief slip gave officers just enough time to get their shot, police officials said.
"Fortunately the suspect slipped and the hostage was able to escape," Ellis said. "... Three of our [Prince George's] officers and three Takoma Park officers opened fire, and the suspect was killed."
Officers took the shots because they believed the hostage's life was endangered, Ellis said.
"He had the gun to her head," he said. "He clearly presented an imminent threat to the hostage, because he could have shot her as she was running away."
The robber did not take any shots, and officers kept the number of bullets shot to a minimum, Ellis said.
"A low number of shots were fired, considering how many officers were firing," he said. "Our officers and Takoma Park officers showed incredible gun control."
A Prince George's officer was grazed by a bullet from police that likely ricocheted during the shooting, Tracy said.
While officers were preoccupied with the threat of an armed bank robber, members of Montgomery County's Fire and Explosive Experts teamalso known as the bomb squad unitwere busy with what initially appeared to be a suspicious package.
Capt. Oscar Garcia, spokesman for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services, said police on the scene alerted Fire and Rescue officials that the suspect was wearing a package that was later placed on the ground.
"The package turned out to be a hoax," he said.
Montgomery County police spokesman Cpl. Dan Friz said officers believe they know the identity of the suspect, but they are waiting to alert the man's family before releasing that information.
During the course of the robbery, there were a few non-life-threatening injuries to some of the six people inside of the bank, Ellis said. Four people were taken to local hospitals, Garcia said.
One man was pistol whipped, Ellis said. The teller had a minor scrape to her elbow, Tracy said.
Garcia said a woman was taken to the hospital for hyperventilation, or being unable to control her breathing.
A Prince George's officer was injured when a bullet from the hit his leg, Ellis said.
Prince George's County police aided in responding to the robbery because the bank is so close to the border between Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Ellis said.
A Takoma Park officer was already near the scene when the call came in, aiding in the quick response to the call for service, Friz said.
Montgomery County police and the FBI are handling the bank robbery investigation, and the Montgomery County Major Crimes Division is handling the investigation on the officer-involved shooting, Friz said. Police are searching the robber's home, but Tracy did not reveal what if anything was found.