N.Y. man with blade shot by officers during bank heist

By Christopher Faherty
The New York Sun

An attempted bank robbery was thwarted in Brooklyn Heights yesterday morning when police shot a knife-wielding suspect in the abdomen, police officials said.

Customers and employees fled a Citibank branch at 181 Montague St. in the heart of Brooklyn's court district as a suspect wildly slashed the air with a six-inch blade, a witness, Ronald Pritchard, said.

"The guy was banging the knife against the plastic windows and knocking down the barriers where people would be waiting in line'" Mr. Pritchard said. "He was screaming: ‘Where's the money?'"

Mr. Pritchard, who works as a stocking clerk at a Rite Aid pharmacy across street from the bank, said that he and the bank's security guard were planning to jump the suspect and use pepper spray just as police arrived at 10:05 a.m. He also said the suspect appeared to be mentally impaired.

Two officers came in through the front entrance of the bank and implored the suspect to drop the knife. When the suspect swung the knife, shots were fired, Mr. Pritchard said. An officer fired one round at the suspect, striking him in the stomach, police said.

After the suspect was shot, the officers proceeded to kick the knife out of his hand and place him in handcuffs, Mr. Pritchard said.

A detail of the NYPD's Emergency Services Unit entered the rear of the bank after police arrived, a parking attendant on Montague Street, Tony Kanaff, 39, said.

The suspect was taken to Lutheran Hospital in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, where he was listed in stable condition yesterday, police said.

During the attempted robbery, bank customers sprinted for the exits and ran down the front steps of the bank onto Montague Street, witnesses said. One man fell while going down the stairway but wasn't injured, Mr. Kanaff said.

The bustling block in Brooklyn Heights where the robbery occurred is lined with several other retail banks. Evan Thies, a spokesman for City Council Member David Yassky, who represents Brooklyn Heights, said robberies in the neighborhood were highly unusual.

The city saw a steep drop in armed bank robberies last year. There were 28 armed bank robberies in 2006, compared with 45 in 2005.

Copyright 2007 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC
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