Gunman Shot, Killed in Bank Hostage Situation

Saturday, Jan 29, 2011  |  Updated 9:06 AM EDT
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A gunman was killed after taking hostages at a bank in <a title=Takoma Park." />

Jackie Bensen

A gunman was killed after taking hostages at a bank in Takoma Park.

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Bank Robber Shot After Hostage Runs for Her Life

A bank robber in Takoma Park, Md., takes a hostage during his escape, but is shot to death by police.

Bank Robbery Suspect In Hostage Situation

An alleged bank robber is involved in a hostage situation in Takoma Park, Md.
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A bank robbery suspect was shot and killed Friday morning during a dramatic hostage situation outside of a Capital One Bank on University Boulevard East in Takoma Park, Md.

Chopper4 captured the hostage situation as it unfolded at the corner of New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard, just as the suspect came out of the bank with a gun to the head of a female teller. The suspect used the woman as a shield but he was eventually shot by police.

At 9:22 a.m., a lone gunman wearing a hood and mask entered the bank carrying a 9mm handgun. A minute later, Takoma Park police were at the scene, Montgomery County Police Assistant Chief Drew Tracy said. Prince George's County police and Montgomery County police arrived soon after.

The suspect knew police were outside, Tracy said, and he went behind the bullet-proof glass with his hostages. Police said six people were in the bank at the time of the incident, and the suspect pointed his gun at them several times.

Fourteen minutes after he entered the bank, the suspect exited with his hostage. As police surrounded them and commanded him to put his gun down several times, a dye pack that a bank employee had placed with the money went off. A few steps later, the suspect stepped off the curb into some snow and slipped, at which point the woman saw her opportunity, broke free from the suspect and started to run. The suspect chased after her with his gun pointed at her back but was shot by police.

He was taken into custody and later pronounced dead at the scene.

The hostage suffered a minor scrape injury, Tracy said.

Six officers fired shots and were placed on routine administrative leave. A low number of shots were fired, Prince George's County police Maj. Andy Ellis said.

One officer suffered a graze wound from a bullet that possibly ricocheted. At this time, police have no information that the suspect fired his weapon -- no 9mm casings were found, but forensics had yet to test the gun.

Five of the hostages were able to get away before the suspect and the final hostage exited the building. One hostage was pistol-whipped in the head after trying to knock the gun away, police said. That hostage is expected to be fine.

One witness told NBC Washington that a man came into the Starbucks next door and told them to call 911. The witness said the man, who was dressed in a suit, said he tried to take a gun away from the alleged bank robber. The man was injured and had blood on his forehead.

Another hostage was treated for shock, the Associated Press reported.

Police said a hoax device was left inside the bank, but it turned out to be plastic foam with duct tape, aluminum foil and copper wires. A bomb squad checked it out and determined it was harmless. Police said the suspect also had a fake plastic foam bomb taped to his body.

The potential for an explosion affected the police response, Ellis said.

Tracy credited the quick police response for flustering the suspect and foiling his robbery attempt.

Police have tentatively identified the suspect. They said they have no evidence of anyone else involved in the bank robbery attempt, though the suspect apparently said he had three accomplices, according to police radio transmissions obtained by Alan Henney of the Washington Examiner.

Montgomery County police are leading the investigation.

Stay with NBCWashington.com for more information as it becomes available.

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