Sniper kills bank robber holding knife to hostage’s throat in Florida

A man was shot and killed by a police sniper during a bank robbery on Tuesday.

The man, who police identified as 36-year-old Sterling Ramon Alavache, was accused of holding two hostages at a Bank of America location in Bell Tower, Florida.

In a press conference, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said they had attempted to negotiate with Alavache, who had a knife and claimed to also have a bomb.

But when the suspect held a knife to the throat of one of the hostages, a sniper fatally shot him.

“When he presented deadly force like that, our SWAT sniper shot and killed the suspect,” Mr Marceno said. “We were in fear for her life and her safety.”

Neither of the hostages were harmed, the sheriff added.

Alavache was a convicted felon, according to the sheriff’s office, who said he’d previously faced charges for drug trafficking, aggravated assault, and carrying a concealed firearm.

On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office released a brief video clip of the incident. In the bodycam footage, police are heard attempting to negotiate with the suspect before a gunshot is heard.

“It is important to note what is not readily viewable, is the suspect placing the hostages in imminent danger by threatening them with a knife, while placing them in a chokehold,” the office said. “In an effort to preserve the lives of the hostages and general public, the decision was made to neutralize the threat.”

The sniper has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, which Mr Marceno said is standard procedure.

“It’s a sad day when innocent lives are placed in jeopardy due to the senseless acts of others,” Mr Marceno said in a statement. “My family members were faced with a tough decision today to neutralize an active threat to the public, during a very volatine situation.

“Let this serve as a reminder of how important it is to remain vigilant,” he added. “I’m beyond grateful none of the victims or my team were injured today.”

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