The 31-year-old bank robbery suspect fatally shot by police Wednesday in downtown Silver Spring probably had taken money from a different bank — only 1,000 feet away — three weeks earlier, police officials in Montgomery County said Thursday.
In both incidents, which happened at the same time of day, police said Mikyas Tegegne told bank employees he was carrying a bomb.
The Dec. 24 robber believed to be Tegegne left with cash in a heist reported at 10:49 a.m. at a Sandy Spring Bank branch.
On Wednesday, Tegegne fled from a BB&T branch with no money after not only saying he had a bomb but also displaying a handgun, according to police. Officers were quickly summoned by a panic-button alert from the bank and at least one 911 call.
An officer found Tegegne, trying to flee, in a parking garage behind the bank. Tegegne reportedly was still wearing a backpack with suspicious-looking wiring attached.
“There was a confrontation. The suspect was then shot,” Assistant Police Chief Marcus Jones said.
Officials said they found a gun with Tegegne. He was taken to Holy Cross Hospital, where he died, Jones said.
Police have not described the confrontation or said whether Tegegne, who they said had no fixed address, presented a gun to the officer.
Investigators made the apparent connection to the earlier robbery after Wednesday’s attempted robbery and shooting.
“Major Crimes detectives believe that Tegegne also committed a robbery at the Sandy Spring Bank,” officials said in a statement Thursday.
Also Thursday, police identified the officer who shot Tegegne as Christopher LaPointe, a 2½ -year veteran of the Montgomery County force. Following protocol, he has been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.
The apparatus Tegegne had been carrying Wednesday was not an explosive device, but was made to resemble one, police said.
Montgomery County detectives will investigate the shooting and their findings will be submitted for review by prosecutors at the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office. The adjacent jurisdictions have a standing agreement to review each other’s cases related to officer-involved shootings.
The Christmas Eve robbery was described in a Montgomery County police news release at the time.
Police said a suspect walked into the Sandy Spring Bank on the ground floor of 8401 Colesville Rd. in an office building less than one block east of the Silver Spring Metro station.
He approached a teller and displayed what he said was an explosive device, police said. They released surveillance photos, showing a suspect whose face was difficult to see clearly because the alleged robber wore a large hooded sweatshirt.
On Wednesday, the suspect identified by police as Tegegne entered the BB&T bank on Wayne Avenue, walked into the bank manager’s office and stated that he had a bomb in his backpack. He also lifted his coat and displayed a handgun, Jones said.
The manager walked to a line of tellers. A panic-button-type of alarm was pushed.
Jones said at least one bank employee later said sirens could be heard as the man was waiting for the money. If so, the sound may have caused him to flee, Jones said.
A 911 operator was told that the robber had a bomb and showed a gun, officials said.