A SWAT team sniper shot and killed a bank robber suspect who was holding two hostages at knifepoint inside a Florida Bank of America on Tuesday.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the bank robbery suspect inside the Bank of America branch near Bell Tower Shops in Fort Meyers, Florida, was 36-year-old Sterling Ramon Alavache. According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Alavache was a “convicted felon” with an “extensive criminal history” that included aggravated assault, drug trafficking, and carrying a concealed weapon from multiple states.
During a Tuesday press conference, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno explained that deputies responded to the Bank of America location shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday after receiving an emergency call that a bank robber was holding multiple individuals as hostages. Marceno said that as sheriff’s deputies entered the building to secure the bank, dozens of individuals were able to exit the bank.
“Quickly, we were face-to-face with a male suspect who was armed with a knife,” Marceno told reporters. “He also claimed he had a bomb. He had two hostages at this point, and we tried to negotiate with him continuously.”
Marceno explained that during the negotiation process, Alavache “became physical,” put one of the hostages in a headlock, and held a knife to the female hostage’s throat.
“When he presented deadly force like that, our SWAT sniper shot and killed the suspect,” Marceno added. “We were in fear for her life and her safety.”
In a statement on social media, Marceno called for Tuesday’s incident to “serve as a reminder” of how critical it is for law enforcement to “remain vigilant. The sheriff expressed his gratitude that none of the SWAT team members or victims were injured in the armed confrontation.
“It’s a sad day when innocent lives are placed in jeopardy due to the senseless acts of others,” Marceno said. “My family members were faced with a tough decision today to neutralize an active threat to the public during a very volatile situation.”
Marceno confirmed that both of the hostages involved in Tuesday’s incident were safe. He also announced that the SWAT sniper who shot and killed the bank robber suspect will be put on administrative leave in compliance with the department’s standard protocol for incidents involving deadly force.