The suspect was a 36-year-old man who police later identified as Sterling Ramon Alavache, a convicted felon
A man was shot dead by police in Florida on Tuesday after taking hostages while trying to rob a bank.
The suspect, later identified by police as 36-year-old Sterling Ramon Alavache, was shot by a SWAT sniper after he “presented deadly force” towards one of the hostages, according to a press conference held by Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
Police received a report of a bank robbery with “multiple hostages” at the Bank of America in Bell Tower, Florida – just seven miles south of Fort Myers – around 11 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Marceno said.
“It was a chaotic scene. We deployed all technology — that’s the robo-dog, our SWAT team, the electronic surveillance drones. A group of deputies immediately went into that building behind me and began to — as people, dozens of people, ran out — they began to secure all other portions of the building while simultaneously hostage negotiations began with our suspect,” Marceno told reporters during the press conference.
Alavache was “armed with a knife” and claimed to have a bomb, Marceno said. “He had two hostages at this point and we tried to negotiate with him continuously.”
At one point he had “a knife to the throat” of one of the hostages, a female.
“When he presented deadly force like that, our SWAT sniper shot and killed the suspect,” Marceno said, as authorities were concerned for the “safety” of the hostage.
“I’m giving you the details I can because it’s a very fresh scene, it’s just happening,” he continued of the situation, which he described as “all hands on deck.”
“I’m proud to say that both hostages are safe,” he continued, without disclosing any further information on their identities or their status at the time. “Their safety was paramount.”
The investigation into the incident remains “open and active,” he added.
“The shooter from the SWAT team will be on administrative leave, which is normal policy and procedure for our office, pending further investigation,” Marceno said. “But I couldn’t be more proud of the men and women of law enforcement today, my family members today, the SWAT team today. How you train is how you perform, and this is exactly what we train for. We train for worst case scenario. We train for hostage negotiations.”
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Later on Tuesday, the suspect was identified as Alavache. Police said he was a convicted felon with an “extensive criminal history to include drug trafficking, aggravated assault and carrying a concealed firearm from several states.”
In a statement, Marceno said, “It’s a sad day when innocent lives are placed in jeopardy due to the senseless acts of others.”
“My family members were faced with a tough decision today to neutralize an active threat to the public, during a very volatile situation," he added. "Let this be a reminder of how important it is to remain vigilant. I’m beyond grateful none of the victims or my team were injured today.”
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