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M&T Bank robber took deputy's service weapon

Two suspects remain at large in Hagerstown robbery

Two suspects remain at large in Hagerstown robbery

October 23, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

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HAGERSTOWN ? One of two masked men who robbed an M&T Bank branch at 930 Dual Highway on Monday shot at a Washington County Sheriff's Department cruiser and took a deputy's service weapon before getting away, police said.

Police believe a shotgun was used during the robbery, and a robber pointed the gun at the first deputy who arrived on scene and demanded the officer give his weapon to the robbers, Sgt. Paul Kifer of the Hagerstown Police Department said.

Deputy Scott Beckley relinquished his service weapon to the robbers, Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said Tuesday afternoon.

Mullendore declined to comment further about the incident because it is under internal review, he said.

Beckley began working for the sheriff's department in the Washington County Detention Center in September 1998 and has worked for the patrol division for about a year, the sheriff said.

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Investigators Tuesday morning were regrouping and processing evidence.

Police responded to a call for a bank robbery at about 2 p.m. and searched the area for the men until about 7 p.m., Kifer said.

The Maryland State Police, Hancock Police Department, Hagerstown Police Department and sheriff's department searched for the men Monday afternoon, using helicopters and dogs. Two state police helicopters circled as officers, some wearing bulletproof vests and other protective gear, searched on the ground.

Police said the men might have gotten into a vehicle in a parking lot near Weis Market. Kifer said the men fled the bank with an undisclosed amount of money.

Two bundles of cash were lying in the bank parking lot until members of the Western Maryland Regional Crime Lab arrived to collect evidence. Money also was scattered in a grassy area between the bank and the parking lot near Weis.

Jeffrey Kercheval of the crime lab photographed the crime scene before collecting the money and other evidence, including a light brown baseball cap.

According to police, one of the robbers pointed a shotgun at the first deputy to arrive at the scene when he got out of his cruiser to investigate. The robber told the deputy to give up his gun, which he did, police said.

The man then shot at the deputy's cruiser, hitting a tire rim, Kifer said.

Witnesses said they saw the men run to a nearby parking lot.

Several armed officers searched the wooded area between the bank and the Weis Market.

The county's Special Response Team was called in to help, and the FBI was getting involved in the investigation, Kifer said.

Police will review surveillance video from the bank and other nearby businesses.

Officers were searching for a black man, described as about 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet tall and skinny, who was wearing a black coat, black baggy jeans, white sneakers and a ski mask. He was holding a shotgun.

Police also were looking for a black man, described as about 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing more than 200 pounds, who was wearing a dark coat, baggy sweat pants, surgical gloves and what appeared to be pantyhose over his head.

Investigators were processing the crime scene inside the bank and officers patrolled the Pangborn and Manor Drive areas Monday night, Kifer said.

Local apartment complexes and Pangborn Elementary School were locked down after the robbery. At the request of school officials, police remained in the Pangborn area while children were dismissed, Kifer said.

Kifer said although no suspects were found, he was encouraged by the teamwork of state, county and city law enforcement agencies.

"It's nice seeing that type of response," Kifer said. "We had the place saturated with law enforcement, that's for sure."

Police are asking anyone with information about the robbery to call them at 301-790-3700.

Staff writers Andrew Schotz, Erin Cunningham and Heather Keels contributed to this story.

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