Sniper shoots bank robber to save hostages

FORT MYERS, FL – A dramatic video released by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office captures the tense moments leading up to the fatal shooting of a suspected armed bank robber holding hostages. The incident occurred on February 6 at a Bank of America branch in Fort Myers.

Sheriff Carmine Marceno of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) detailed the events, explaining that deputies arrived to find the suspect, identified as 36-year-old Sterling Alavache, armed with a knife and claiming to have a bomb. Alavache held a man and a woman hostage, escalating the situation by threatening the female hostage with a knife to her throat.

Negotiations with the suspect were ongoing when Alavache’s actions prompted a decisive response. According to Sheriff Marceno, an LCSO Special Operations Unit sniper took a “planned and deliberate shot” through a computer monitor, striking Alavache in the forehead and killing him instantly.

The video shows officers poised to act as the sniper fired the critical shot. The computer monitor, located behind the teller counter, was circled by LCSO to highlight the path the bullet traveled. Following the sniper’s shot, flash bangs were deployed to disorient Alavache as the Special Operations Unit moved in to secure the hostages and confirm the suspect was no longer a threat.

Alavache, a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal record including drug trafficking, aggravated assault, and carrying a concealed firearm, fell to the ground as the hostages escaped. The Sheriff’s Office emphasized that firing through barriers is a skill routinely practiced by their snipers, with the .308 caliber bullet chosen for its reliability in such situations.

The end of the video shows the computer monitor with a visible hole, yet still functioning, underscoring the precision of the shot. Lieutenant Todd Olmer, LCSO public information officer, noted in the video that the sniper’s training and the ballistic reliability of the bullet were crucial in the successful resolution of the hostage situation.