Police Kill Gunman in Bank Holdup
One armed man was shot dead by a police officer and two others were captured as an estimated 20 customers looked on in horror yesterday during the unsuccessful holdup of the Brigham Circle branch of New England Merchants National Bank.
The dead man, described as about 25, tall and muscular, was not immediately identified. His body was removed to the Northern-Southern Mortuary shortly after arrival at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.
According to the preliminary police report, he died of a gunshot wound of the abdomen. He was allegedly about to shoot one police officer when the latter's partner fired one shot inside the front door of the bank.
The bank was crowded with the usual late afternoon business when three well dressed men in slacks and sport clothes entered at 4:55 p.m.
One man stayed just inside the front door while the other two approached a bank employee not a teller and handed him a note announcing a holdup was in progress.
Senior Vice President of the bank, Richard D. Driscoll, said the two men and the one at the door then produced handguns. The two together then entered the rear offices of the bank, warning employees and customers to "keep quiet and you won't get hurt."
Unknown to them, one of the employees tripped a silent alarm that alerted the dispatcher at Boston Police Headquarters. He radioed cars in the area to close in on the bank.
The first cruiser arrived at 5:05 p.m. with Patrolman Daniel Fitzgerald and Maurice Flaherty of District Two.
They apparently surprised the lookout at the door as they stealthily entered and Fitzgerald attempted to disarm the man without pulling a gun on him and risking a possible shootout in the crowded bank.
Fitzgerald tried to grab the man's gun hand but was dumped to the floor. Police said the man then pointed the gun at him by Flaherty fired a shot and the "lookout" fell mortally wounded.
According to the police, the other two armed men dropped the money they had scooped up in the rear offices of the bank and tried to escape. They were quickly apprehended by Fitzgerald and Flaherty as police reinforcements arrived outside.
Bank officials said a security guard, whom they declined to identify, had been disarmed and held at gunpoint during the holdup.
Booked at District Two in Roxbury were Mark Frechette, 25, of 27 Fort ave., Roxbury, and Sheldon Bernard, 31, who declined to give police his address.
They were taken to headquarters after being booked on charges of armed robbery for fingerprinting and were scheduled for arraignment in Roxbury District Court today.
Deputy Police Supt. Leroy Chase lauded Fitzgerald and Flaherty for "their quick action. This was a fine piece of police work," he said. "It demonstrates the restraint Boston police have in very trying circumstances."
"We need more public awareness of the positive actions of police in ridding the community of crime," Chase said.