Armed Bank Robber Hides Behind Two Hostages and a Barrier - SWAT Sniper Enters the Lobby and Ends It with One Shot


The Lee County Sheriff’s Office released video Saturday of a sniper engaging a bank robbery suspect during a hostage situation that took place in Fort Myers, Florida, on Feb. 6.

The Facebook post erroneously states that the incident took place on Feb. 7, but multiple media reports — including some published on Feb. 6 — establish the correct date as a day earlier.

Lt. Todd Olmer of the Public Information Office said that posting the video to social media was done to “provide additional details and context” to the February shooting.

Video showed surveillance footage of a man armed with a knife holding two hostages inside a Bank of America, as well as a number of sheriff’s officers outside the office.

It also shows the moment when a LCSO sniper took the shot that killed the suspect.

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WARNING: The following video contains graphic images that some viewers may find disturbing.

WPEC‘s Nick Viviani described the fatal shot.

“The sniper’s bullet, which was fired from the lobby entrance, pierced a computer monitor and split the two hostages being held in the suspect’s arms to strike the suspect,” he wrote.

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In the video, Sheriff Carmine Marceno told the media that his officers faced a man — identified by WEAR as 36-year-old Sterling Ramon Alavache — with a knife who “also claimed he had a bomb.”

Law enforcement tried to negotiate with the suspect, the sheriff said, and some of the negotiation can be heard in the video prior to the shot being taken.

“As somebody else who has kids, I want to be able to help you with that,” the negotiator can be heard saying in the video. “Keep talking to me. Keep talking to me. Let me know what’s going through your head right now. What concerns do you have.”

“At one point during negotiations he became physical,” Marceno said. “He started to put one of the hostages in a headlock, and he had a knife to her throat.

“SWAT team was in place,” he said. “When he presented deadly force like that, our SWAT sniper shot and killed the suspect.”

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Olmer said that the bullet used by the sniper had been “specifically selected” for its ability to pass through barriers like a computer monitor and remain on target.

“Immediately after the suspect was shot, distraction devices known as flash-bangs were set off as a special operations unit moved in to remove the hostages and confirm that the suspect was no longer a threat.”

“This is a very unfortunate incident,” Marceno said as the video closed, “but I will tell you: The two hostages being safe was our top priority.”

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics