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Suspect in hostage incident at Florida bank shot and killed by SWAT sniper: Sheriff

Lee County Sheriff’s Office

(FORT MYERS, Fla.) — A suspect in a hostage incident at a Florida bank was shot and killed by a SWAT sniper, authorities said.

Two hostages were unharmed in what Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno called a “chaotic scene.”

The incident unfolded at a Bank of America in Fort Myers shortly after 11 a.m. ET. on Tuesday.

“We received a call of a bank robbery in progress with multiple hostages,” Marceno said during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

The suspect was armed with a knife and claimed to have a bomb, Marceno said. He was holding two people hostage, the sheriff said.

The sheriff’s office responded within minutes, deploying SWAT, drones and a robotic dog, Marceno said. Deputies secured the building while hostage negotiations began, he said.

At some point during the negotiations, the suspect “became physical,” Marceno said.

“He started to put one of the hostages in like, a headlock and he had the knife to her throat,” Marceno said.

A SWAT sniper, fearing for the life of the female hostage, shot and killed the suspect, Marceno said.

None of the hostages nor responding law enforcement were injured, Marceno said.

“I’m proud to say that both hostages are safe,” Marceno said. “Their safety was paramount.”

The suspect was identified by the sheriff’s office as Sterling Ramon Alavache, 36.

The SWAT sniper involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave, per standard protocol for the sheriff’s office, Marceno said.

Marceno did not release any further details due to the open investigation.

It is unclear who the victims were or how long the hostage negotiations lasted.

A Bank of America spokesperson deferred comment to local law enforcement due to the active investigation.

John Sugben told ABC Naples, Florida, affiliate WZVN-TV he was inside the bank at the time of the hostage incident.

“There was some commotion and the person I was working with in the bank went out and talked to someone and she said, ‘C’mon, let’s go, we gotta leave,” he said.

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