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SWAT team sniper kills bank hostage-taker in Fort Myers, sheriff says

The man was armed with a knife and claimed to have a bomb at a Bank of America branch Tuesday, authorities say.
 
A large number of law enforcement officers swarmed a hostage situation at the Bank of America building at Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers on Tuesday.
A large number of law enforcement officers swarmed a hostage situation at the Bank of America building at Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers on Tuesday. [ ANDREW WEST | The News-Press via Associated Press ]
Published Feb. 6|Updated Feb. 7

FORT MYERS — A deputy shot and killed a man Tuesday after he took people hostage and claimed to have a bomb at a Florida bank, authorities said.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a Bank of America branch in Fort Myers shortly before noon, Sheriff Carmine Marceno said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Officials deployed a robot dog, the SWAT team, electronic surveillance and drones.

As deputies entered the bank, dozens of people ran out, Marceno said. A man armed with a knife, later identified as 36-year-old Sterling Ramon Alavache, still had two hostages and claimed to have a bomb, the sheriff said.

Negotiators were called to talk with Alavache, but at some point, the man put a hostage in a headlock and held a knife to her throat, Marceno said. That’s when a SWAT sniper fatally shot Alavache, officials said.

No injuries were reported to any hostages or deputies.

Officials didn’t immediately say whether Alavache actually had a bomb.

The deputy who killed the man was placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation, which is normal department policy.