Sterling Avalanche Fort Myers was a 36-year-old man killed by a sniper during a Bank of America robbery attempt.
Sterling Avalanche Fort Myers stormed the Bank Tuesday with a knife, claiming to have a bomb.
He took hostages and triggered a massive law enforcement response involving Lee County Sheriff’s officers and SWAT.
Eventually, a sniper took down the suspect and calm was restored.
But who was that suspect? Learn more below.
Who was Sterling Avalanche Fort Myers?
Sterling Ramon Avalanche of Fort Myers was a 36-year-old convicted felon with a lengthy criminal history across multiple states.
He had been arrested four times in Charlotte County, Florida, since 2017, for charges including drug trafficking, aggravated assault, and carrying a concealed firearm.
He had posted disturbing messages on his social media accounts, such as “Do not test my patience. Never put me in a position to show you just how cruel and ruthless I can be”.
On Tuesday, February 6, 2024, a man named Sterling Ramon Avalanche attempted to rob the Bank of America branch in Bell Tower, Fort Myers, Florida.
He claimed to have a bomb and a knife, and took two hostages inside the bank.
He was shot and killed by a SWAT sniper after he held a knife to the throat of one of the hostages. Both hostages were rescued safely and no other injuries were reported.
The incident caused a large law enforcement presence and road closures in the area.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call of a bank robbery with multiple hostages around 11 a.m. local time.
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They entered the building and began to secure the premises and evacuate the customers and staff, while simultaneously initiating hostage negotiations with Avalanche.
They deployed various technologies, such as a “robodog” remote-controlled surveillance device and drones, to monitor Avalanche’s actions.
They decided to use deadly force when Sterling Avalanche Fort Myers became physical and threatened to kill one of the hostages. A SWAT unit sniper shot and killed Avalanche from a distance, ending the standoff.
The SWAT unit member who took the shot was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation, which is the normal protocol for cases involving a death.
Avalanche could have faced multiple charges if he had survived, such as robbery, kidnapping, assault, and possession of a weapon and an explosive device.
The bank staff and the hostages were traumatized by the ordeal and received counseling and support from the authorities and the bank management.
The bank branch remained closed until further notice following the incident.
Fort Myers residents were shocked and alarmed by the violent crime in their community, which is usually considered a safe and peaceful place.
Some residents praised the police for their swift and effective response, while others questioned the use of lethal force and the potential risk of collateral damage.
Sterling Ramon Avalanche
The Sterling Avalanche Fort Myers robbery attempt generated a lot of attention and discussion on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.
Some users expressed sympathy and solidarity with the victims and the law enforcement officers involved.
Some users criticized Sterling Avalanche Fort Myers for his criminal behavior and his disregard for human life.
Others speculated about Avalanche’s motives, mental state, and background, based on his online posts and his criminal record.
Even other users debated the ethical and legal implications of the police shooting, and whether there were alternative ways to resolve the situation.
How did police handle the Fort Myers Bank of America robbery?
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the SWAT unit. They handled the situation by:
- Securing the premises and evacuating the customers and staff.
- Initiating hostage negotiations with the suspect, who claimed to have a bomb and a knife.
- Deploying a “robodog” remote-controlled surveillance device and drones to monitor the suspect’s actions.
- Using deadly force when the suspect became physical and threatened to kill one of the hostages.
- Shooting and killing the suspect from a distance by a SWAT sniper.
- Rescuing both hostages safely and no other injuries were reported.
In a statement, they laid down the breakdown of their actions as…
- Authorities responded to a call of an armed robbery with multiple hostages at the Bank of America branch around 11 a.m. local time.
- They entered the building and began to negotiate with the suspect, who claimed to have a bomb and a knife.
- They used a “robodog” remote-controlled surveillance device and drones to monitor the suspect’s actions.
- Authorities decided to use deadly force when the suspect became physical and threatened to kill one of the hostages.
- They shot and killed suspect Sterling Avalanche Fort Myers from a distance by a SWAT sniper.
- Both hostages were rescued safely and no other injuries were reported.
- The SWAT unit member who took the shot on administrative leave pending further investigation, which is the normal protocol for cases involving a death.
- They identified the suspect as a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal history across multiple states – 36-year-old Sterling Ramon Avalanche.
They expressed gratitude for the safety of the victims and their team, and pride for their swift and decisive response.
Similar Recent Armed Robberies to Sterling Avalanche Fort Myers attempt
According to the FBI, there were 44,086 robberies with a handgun in the United States in 2022, and 11,797 robberies with a knife or other cutting instrument.
The robbery rate in the United States was 66.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2022, with the highest rate in the District of Columbia and the lowest rate in Wyoming.
Some examples of similar recent armed robberies in the United States are:
On January 4, 2024, a man armed with a handgun robbed a Wells Fargo bank in San Diego, California, and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.
On January 18, 2024, a man armed with a knife robbed a Chase bank in Houston, Texas, and took a female employee hostage before surrendering to the police.
On January 25, 2024, a man armed with a shotgun robbed a Bank of the West branch in Omaha, Nebraska, and fired a shot at the ceiling before escaping with an unknown sum of money.
The Bank of America Fort Myers robbery by Sterling Avalanche was a tragic and violent incident that endangered the lives of innocent people and disrupted the peace and order of the community.
The police acted swiftly and decisively to neutralize the threat and rescue the hostages, but also faced criticism and scrutiny for their use of deadly force.
The suspect was a troubled and dangerous individual who had a history of criminal activity and disturbing behavior, and who posed a serious risk to himself and others.
The incident highlighted the prevalence and the impact of armed robberies in the United States, and the need for more effective prevention and intervention strategies to reduce this type of crime.
Bank of America
The Bank of America Corporation (often abbreviated BofA or BoA) is an American multinational investment bank and financial services holding company headquartered at the Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, with investment banking and auxiliary headquarters in Manhattan.
The bank was founded in San Francisco, California. It is the second-largest banking institution in the United States, after JPMorgan Chase, and the second-largest bank in the world by market capitalization.
Bank of America is one of the Big Four banking institutions of the United States.
It serves approximately 10.73% of all American bank deposits, in direct competition with JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. Its primary financial services revolve around commercial banking, wealth management, and investment banking.
One branch of its history stretches back to the U.S.-based Bank of Italy, founded by Amadeo Pietro Giannini in 1904, which provided various banking options to Italian immigrants who faced service discrimination.
Originally headquartered in San Francisco, California, Giannini acquired Banca d’America e d’Italia (Bank of America and Italy) in 1922. The passage of landmark federal banking legislation facilitated a rapid growth in the 1950s, quickly establishing a prominent market share.
After suffering a significant loss after the 1998 Russian bond default, BankAmerica, as it was then known, was acquired by the Charlotte-based NationsBank for US$62 billion.
Following what was then the largest bank acquisition in history, the Bank of America Corporation was founded. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, it built upon its commercial banking business by establishing Merrill Lynch for wealth management and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for investment banking in 2008 and 2009, respectively (since renamed BofA Securities).
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