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ICYMI: Witness to bank robbery broadcast response for an hour

Man just going to grab lunch after work finds himself near the scene where a SWAT sniper killed a bank robbery suspect
Viewer Video of Fort Myers Bank Robbery Response
Posted at 7:54 PM, Feb 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-08 14:59:23-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For more than an hour, Charlie Lopez sat in the driver's seat of his car but unsure where this journey would take him.

After doing his morning radio show, "DJ Charlie" drove himself to the one place where, he says, he picks up lunch once a week.

"I go to get food at Dave & Buster's," Lopez said, in a Zoom interview on Tuesday night. "It's so funny because, normally, I'm right there at 11 (a.m.)."

Only on Tuesday morning, 11 a.m. in this parking lot means that Lopez found himself in the middle of an active crime scene.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office brought out dozens of deputies, drones, a robotic 'dog', a battering ram and and S.W.A.T. response team.

For more than an hour, Lopez sat in his car, broadcasting what was unfolding in front of him to his Facebook followers. The law enforcement response would shift every few minutes as the situation kept changing.

Sheriff Carmine Marceno said, in a news conference, Sterling Alavache, 36, held two people at the bank hostage, by knifepoint. Marceno also said Alavache claimed there was a bomb in the building.

The sheriff said Alavache used "lethal force" at one point, holding a knife to a woman's neck and that is when a sniper shot and killed Alavache.

Just steps away in his car, Lopez noted the robust and unrelenting level of police response.

"I've never seen any of this before," said Lopez. "I didn't even know the county had this. You see, in the video, it almost looks like they lift up the sniper in the air. Then they have a battering ram. I've never experienced seeing all of Lee County's arsenal. They had drones, they had cameras."

As his video took followers through the journey of the robbery, the response and, eventually, learning that a sniper killed the suspect, Lopez talked about how he was describing only what he could see from his windshield and through his phone's camera.

What was a bank robbery turned into a very serious situation, with the death of a suspect.

"I think, halfway during the video, is when the gravity started to hit me."