The body of a suspected bank robber is on the ground as police investigate on Thursday outside the Bank of America branch at 37370 Gratiot, north of 16 Mile. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)
Clinton Township — A shooting in front of a Bank of America branch on Thursday left a suspected thief dead and another person injured and on the run, police said.
Police Chief Fred Posavetz saidthat shortly before 1 p.m., a Garda armored car security guard was entering the bank at 37370 Gratiot when he was accosted by a robber.
“They got into a gun battle,” Posavetz said, adding that the suspect was “shot several times by the armored car officer.”
In the exchange of gunfire, the guard also shot a getaway driver who was sitting nearby in a stolen minivan, Posavetz said. Police found the silver Town and Country minivan unoccupied on a side street just north of the bank. A bullet hole was found in the passenger front door and blood was on the driver’s seat and steering wheel.
“Witnesses said the passenger side window was shot as he was making a getaway,” the chief said.
Police did not have an identification for the dead suspect. They continue looking for the driver. The money was recovered and the bank will reopen for business on Friday, Posavetz said.
Ladria Murray, 31, of Roseville was one of about 40 people in the Bank of America when the shots began and described a scene of chaos and how “everybody in the bank just hit the floor.”
“We just tried to find an open spot so we could get down,” Murray said. “We heard shooting for maybe a good eight seconds. It was a lot of shooting. Then you heard screams and then everybody was just trying to get to a safe spot.”
Murray said as soon as the shooting occurred, the doors were immediately locked and “nobody could get in and nobody could get out.”
She was waiting for police to retrieve her black Chrysler, which was parked next to the alleged bank robber whose body was on the sidewalk.
The man was dressed in all black with a mask, gloves, bulletproof vest and combat pants.
Andrea and Jeffrey Hernandez were on their way with their children to a doctor’s appointment when they heard gunshots.
They turned into the parking lot after witnessing the Garda armored truck guard exchanging gunfire with the suspect.
“There was just like a lot of gunfire,” said Andrea, 34, of Roseville.
Both Andrea and her husband approached the masked suspect after he fell to the ground.
Being in the health care field, Andrea wanted to try to help him but the armored car guards who locked themselves in the truck beckoned her off. Then police arrived. A leather bag of money sat on the sidewalk beside the gunman, the Hernandezes said.
“When we got here we just saw the suspect,” she said. “The gun was far enough away from him that he couldn't grab it as well as the bag of money. When we got to him, he was laying there twitching.”
Jeffrey Hernandez asked him if he was OK and there was no response. “They said get away from him,” he said of the Macomb County deputy sheriffs who arrived seconds later.
No bank customers were injured in the shooting, Posavetz said.