LUTHERVILLE, Md. — A police officer fatally shot a man who had robbed a suburban Baltimore bank and injured a second man involved in the robbery, firing through the windshield of their oncoming car Friday, authorities said.
The shooting occurred as officers were seeking suspects Friday afternoon shortly after a bank robbery nearby, Baltimore County Police Cpl. John Watchter said.
No weapons were recovered from the car or were found at the scene, authorities said. They said the driver of the car died at a hospital and added the injuries to the second man, a passenger in the car who was taken into custody, didn’t appear life-threatening.
County police spokeswoman Elise Armacost tweeted later that the injured passenger was wanted in three area bank robberies by the FBI and nicknamed “The Aviator” because of photos circulated by that federal agency showing the suspect sporting aviator-style sunglasses inside banks. The FBI only Thursday had said it was seeking the public’s help in identifying “The Aviator.”
Neither man’s identity was immediately released. Both men are black, but it didn’t appear race was a factor in the shooting or that it fit into the larger nationwide conversation of relations between police and the black community.
Armacost also tweeted that the men had robbed a Wells Fargo Bank outlet earlier Friday about four miles from the shooting scene in Pikesville.
Wachter told reporters that a patrol sergeant had stopped traffic shortly after the bank robbery to try and block a likely escape route.
“That patrol sergeant encountered a vehicle in that line of vehicles,” Wachter said. “At some point, the sergeant fired multiple times.”
Armacost said the officer fired on the car “as the vehicle was coming toward the officer,” adding that he fired through the front windshield.
Novelist Dan Fesperman, a former reporter for The Baltimore Sun, said he was driving nearby when he saw a police car parked sideways at an intersection, blocking traffic.
He told The Associated Press by phone he then heard gunfire — “four quick pops in succession.”
A green car was weaving in the road and surged into the intersection, coasted a bit and then smashed into a car ahead of him, Fesperman said. “Police came running up to the green car, smashed the window on the passenger side, (and) pulled out the guy.” Officers handcuffed the man and took him away, he added.
Fesperman said he got out of his car, took a few steps and saw first responders “giving vigorous CPR” to another man. “(The man) had blood on his head, his shirt was off, and oxygen mask was on and they were pumping his chest,” he said.
After the shooting, the car the men were riding in struck another car.
Wachter said one officer who responded to the shooting scene was wearing a body camera, and that the footage has been downloaded but has not yet been reviewed.
An FBI spokesman in Baltimore did not immediately return a call seeking comment about the developments Friday. The agency had issued a message Thursday appealing for the public’s help in identifying the wanted person nicknamed “The Aviator.” The message said he was being sought in three robberies this month in the area: Sept. 1 in Dundalk and Sept. 9 and Sept. 20 in Baltimore.
“While talking on his cellphone, the suspect approaches the counter, hands the bank employee a note announcing an armed robbery, and demands money,” the FBI said. “After receiving money, he flees the location on foot.” Photos circulated by the FBI of the wanted man showed him inside the banks, wearing aviator-style sunglasses and a cap.
Associated Press reporter Kasey Jones contributed to this story from Baltimore.