Friday, January 28, 2011

Bank Robbery with Hostage; Officer Involved Shooting-Community Advisory

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Major Crimes Division are investigating the bank robbery and the officer-involved shooting of the bank robbery suspect that occurred this morning in Takoma Park.

Just before 9:30 this morning, officers from Takoma Park Police, Prince George’s County Police, and 3rd District Montgomery County Police responded to the Capital One Bank located at 1181 University Boulevard East in Takoma Park for the report of a bank robbery in progress involving a hostage.

The preliminary investigation revealed that a lone male suspect entered the bank at approximately 9:22 a.m. armed with a 9 mm handgun, and carrying what were later determined to be two bogus explosive devices. One of the bogus devices was carried on his shoulder and the other he later placed on the bank counter. He approached a teller and speaking in Spanish demanded cash. A “Good Samaritan” adult male bank customer attempted to wrestle the gun away from the suspect, but the suspect pistol whipped him, and remained in control. While the suspect couldn’t see what was going on, a bank employee placed a die pack in with the cash. There were five employees and one customer in the bank during the bank robbery.

Takoma Park Police officers, who were patrolling in the shopping center area where the bank is located, were the first to arrive at the scene while the suspect was still inside the bank. They established a perimeter and were joined by responding Prince George’s County Police and then Montgomery County Police. The suspect grabbed an adult female bank teller, and while holding a gun to her, used her as a shield as he exited the bank. Officers repeatedly gave verbal commands to the suspect to drop his gun. The suspect did not comply and as the suspect with hostage were outside the Starbucks next to the bank, the die pack exploded. The suspect stepped back, slipped on some ice, and the hostage was able to free his grasp and run from him. He immediately ran after her with his gun pointed at her. Officers continued their verbal demands to him to drop his weapon. When he did not comply and the hostage was out of his grasp, six officers - three Takoma Park Police and three Prince George’s County Police - fired at the suspect. The officers immediately rendered first aid to the suspect until Fire & Rescue personnel arrived. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. A Prince George’s County officer was grazed in the leg by a bullet. No one else was struck or injured by the exchange of gunfire.

The number of shots fired and the circumstances surrounding the shooting remain under investigation. It is apparent that the officers exhibited restraint in firing at the suspect. At this stage of the investigation there is no evidence that the suspect fired his weapon.

Because of the presence of two potentially explosive devices, one on the suspect and one in the bank, a thorough investigation was conducted by the Fire & Rescue Explosives Unit. It was determined that both “devices” were kitchen sponges, 4” x 5” x 1” in size, wrapped in aluminum foil, secured with duct tape, and had several thin copper wires protruding from them.

The female hostage received a very minor scrape to her arm as she was being forced out of the bank. She received a medical check-up at an area hospital and was released. The Prince George’s County Officer grazed by a bullet received treatment at an area hospital and was released. The male bank customer who was pistol-whipped remains hospitalized.

The identity of the Hispanic male suspect believed to be in his 40’s will be released after it is confirmed and family members have been notified.

As is standard procedure, the involved officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation. Their identities will be released tomorrow.

Montgomery County Police are conducting the investigation of the bank robbery and of both the Takoma Park Police and Prince George’s County Police officer-involved shooting. Anyone who has information pertaining to the suspect is asked to call the Robbery Section at 240-773-5100. The investigations are continuing.