Bal­ti­more County po­lice kill sus­pect in bank rob­beries

Man shot at Brook­landville in­ter­sec­tion; 2nd man held

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Rector and Scott Dance

Bal­ti­more County po­lice shot and killed a sus­pected bank rob­ber at an in­ter­sec­tion near sev­eral sub­ur­ban sub­di­vi­sions on Fri­day af­ter­noon and took into cus­tody an al­leged ac­com­plice wanted in a string of bank rob­beries this month.

Po­lice said the men were flee­ing the rob­bery of a Wells Fargo Bank in the 1500 block of Reis­ter­stown Road. An of­fi­cer fired through the wind­shield of their get­away car, killing the driver. The car then crashed into other ve­hi­cles stopped on Rux­ton Road near Falls Road in Brook­landville, po­lice said. No other driv­ers were in­jured.

Po­lice had shut down traf­fic in the area fol­low­ing the bank rob­bery, which oc­curred just af­ter 1 p.m., in hopes of block­ing a likely es­cape route.

The sus­pects, driv­ing a Ford Tau­rus east­bound on Old Court Road, “pulled out of the line of stopped traf­fic, crossed the cen­ter line and drove to­ward one of the of­fi­cers,” po­lice said.

Ac­cord­ing to de­part­ment pol­icy, offi-

cers may dis­charge their firearm “when an of­fi­cer is on foot and a ve­hi­cle is be­ing used against the of­fi­cer, or an­other per­son, and the safety of in­no­cent per­sons would not be jeop­ar­dized.”

Po­lice did not iden­tify the man who was shot. He died af­ter be­ing taken to an area hos­pi­tal, po­lice said. The sec­ond man suf­fered in­juries that were not con­sid­ered life-threat­en­ing, po­lice said.

Po­lice said the man in cus­tody, who has not been iden­ti­fied, is the sus­pect dubbed “The Avi­a­tor” this week by the FBI. The sus­pect’s nick­name comes from the style of sun­glasses worn in three other area bank rob­beries.

Po­lice re­cov­ered “money and bank property” from the ve­hi­cle, po­lice said. They did not re­cover any weapons.

The of­fi­cer who fired his weapon has been placed on rou­tine ad­min­is­tra­tive sta­tus pend­ing a re­view of the shoot­ing. His last name — but not his first name — will be re­leased within 48 hours, in ac­cor­dance with the county’s con­tract with the po­lice union.

Cpl. John Wachter, a po­lice spokesman, said one of­fi­cer on the scene was wear­ing a body cam­era. The of­fi­cer wear­ing the cam­era was not the of­fi­cer who fired, and the footage did not cap­ture the shoot­ing, po­lice said.

A lim­ited num­ber of Bal­ti­more County po­lice of­fi­cers were is­sued body cam­eras be­gin­ning this sum­mer. All of­fi­cers are ex­pected to be is­sued cam­eras by De­cem­ber 2018.

The FBI had of­fered a $5,000 re­ward Thurs­day for any in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest of “The Avi­a­tor.”

The agency said he was re­spon­si­ble for rob­beries on Sept. 1 at the Wells Fargo Bank in the 1600 block of Mer­ritt Blvd. in Dun­dalk; on Sept. 9 at the BB&T Bank in the 5400 block of Har­ford Road in Hamil­ton; and on Tues­day at the Wells Fargo Bank in the 7600 block of Har­ford Road in Parkville.

The FBI re­ferred all ques­tions to Bal­ti­more County po­lice.

The in­ci­dent Fri­day oc­curred at the in­ter­sec­tion of Falls Road, Rux­ton Road and Old Court Road, in an old mill town his­tor­i­cally known as Rock­land. The area is con­sid­ered Brook­landville, just west of Rux­ton and Tow­son and north of Bal­ti­more. It is roughly four miles from the Wells Fargo Bank that po­lice say was robbed.

Dan Fes­per­man, a for­mer re­porter for The Bal­ti­more Sun, said he was headed west on Rux­ton Road and pre­par­ing to turn left onto Falls Road when he no­ticed po­lice cars ahead of him and one of­fi­cer stand­ing on the street, shout­ing. Sud­denly, four or five shots were fired, he said — though he was un­sure where they came from.

“It was a pop, pop, pop, pop,” he said.

At that point, a pale green Ford Tau­rus ap­peared, headed east on Old Court Road di­rectly across Falls Road. The ve­hi­cle briefly ac­cel­er­ated, then slowed and ap­peared to coast across the in­ter­sec­tion, slam­ming at about 20 mph into a Subaru sta­tion wagon stopped to the right of Fes­per­man’s car, he said.

“All the cops came run­ning across the road,” Fes­per­man said. He said they were yelling at a man in the pas­sen­ger seat of the Tau­rus. Fes­per­man said he couldn’t see any­one in the driver’s seat.

The po­lice of­fi­cers “took billy clubs and they smashed the pas­sen­ger side win­dow,” Fes­per­man said.

They opened the car door and pulled the man out, putting him on his stom­ach on the ground, Fes­per­man said.

Once Fes­per­man got out of his own ve­hi­cle, he saw po­lice of­fi­cers giv­ing first aid to an­other man. “I saw that they were tend­ing to a guy on that side, giv­ing him CPR. There was a lot of blood,” Fes­per­man said.

Doe Kim said his Misty Val­ley Farms stand on Rux­ton Road just be­yond the scene of the shoot­ing was busy when gun­fire erupted. He and sev­eral cus­tomers rushed to the road­side and saw four or five peo­ple hud­dled be­hind a ve­hi­cle, and other ve­hi­cles mak­ing abrupt U-turns.

Po­lice were al­ready there when Kim heard the shots, and a dozen other squad cars with sirens blar­ing soon came rac­ing by.

“It seemed like it was maybe some on­go­ing event and maybe it got out of hand,” Kim said. “I heard four or five gun­shots.”

The in­ci­dent fol­lows two other re­cent deaths of peo­ple en­gaged in some way with county po­lice.

A 21- year- old man died Wed­nes­day af­ter he was in­jured dur­ing a con­fronta­tion with po- lice Sun­day morn­ing in Es­sex. Po­lice say Ta­won Boyd had re­sisted ar­rest, and three of­fi­cers who re­strained him were in­jured in the fray.

Of­fi­cials are await­ing the re­sults of an au­topsy, but Boyd’s fam­ily said his kid­neys and heart failed. They ques­tioned the po­lice of­fi­cers’ han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion.

Both the county po­lice and fire de­part­ments are con­duct­ing in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The county Po­lice De­part­ment also has been crit­i­cized in re­cent weeks for the shoot­ing death of Kor­ryn Gaines, 23. She was shot by a po­lice of­fi­cer in her Ran­dall­stown apart­ment last month. Po­lice said Gaines raised and pointed a shot­gun at of­fi­cers. The of­fi­cer who shot her, iden­ti­fied only as Of­fi­cer 1st Class Ruby, also shot Gaines’ 5-year-old son, Kodi.

Bal­ti­more County State’s At­tor­ney Scott Shel­len­berger an­nounced Wed­nes­day that he would not bring any charges against the of­fi­cer.

Gaines’ fam­ily has filed a wrong­ful death law­suit, and the NAACP Le­gal De­fense Fund has asked County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz to launch an in­de­pen­dent re­view.

Bal­ti­more County po­lice have also been in­volved in two non­fa­tal shoot­ings this year.

Travis Jay Hunt was shot by po­lice at a home in Mid­dle River on May14 as of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gated whether he was re­spon­si­ble for at­tack­ing a man and a woman with a hatchet. Hunt dropped a knife and lunged to­ward it, and an of­fi­cer shot him, po­lice said.

Ge­orge Green­wood Willinger III was shot dur­ing a traf­fic stop in Mid­dle River on Feb. 18 when po­lice said he made a move to­ward his waist­band. Willinger did not have a gun on him, but po­lice found a gun in the back seat of the car.

“I saw that [po­lice] were tend­ing to a guy ... giv­ing him CPR. There was a lot of blood.” Dan Fes­per­man, eye­wit­ness

LLOYD FOX/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Po­lice tape blocks off the in­ter­sec­tion near the shoot­ing.

DAN FES­PER­MAN/FOR THE BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Bal­ti­more County po­lice sur­round a car at Old Court and Falls roads in Brook­landville af­ter shoot­ing a man sus­pected in bank rob­beries.

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