SILVER SPRING – Montgomery County Police (MP) officials say that they believe that the armed individual who was shot dead by a police officer on Jan. 16 after he attempted to rob a downtown Silver Spring bank may have committed a previous unsolved robbery nearby in December.
Mikyas Mehary Tegegne, 31, was identified as the suspect who attempted to rob from the BB&T Bank on 1100 block of Wayne Avenue. Major Crimes detectives say that they believe that Tegegne committed an earlier bank robbery on Dec. 24 at the Sandy Spring Bank located at 8401 Colesville Road, a four-minute walk from the BB&T Bank.
Police say at approximately 10:49 a.m., Tegegne entered the bank wearing a large oversized black coat with a bag back. He approached a teller showed an item, claiming it was “an explosive device,” and demanded money. The teller complied with the request, gave the suspect the money and he fled the bank. Officials did not disclosed the amount taken in the Sandy Spring incident.
Less than three weeks later, Tegegne would strike again at the Wayne Avenue, showing a handgun to the bank manager, demanding $20,000 and claiming he had a bomb in his backpack. Once a panic button was pressed, Tegegne ran out of the bank and had a confrontation with Officer Christopher LaPointe.
The officer shot Tegegne, who died as he was being transported to Holy Cross Hospital, police said. LaPointe has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, as is department protocol, officials say. The county fire and rescue team closed off the section of Ramsey Drive where the backpack was located to secure the potential bomb.
“We have had subsequent buildings around the area evaluated until we can make this area safe,” MCP Assistant Chief Marcus Jones said.
One week after the incident, locals are still reeling with the aftermath of the incident. Eric Nyamboki was arriving the Planet Fitness on Wayne Avenue when he saw the streets being blocked off. Police told him to go back to his office, which was a block away, while his friends quickly contacted him after hearing there was a shooting where he was located.
“It is really sad but I have not had time to process everything that happened,” Nyamboki said.
BB&T Bank officials declined to comment at this time and employees are unable to speak on the situation as well. Janet B. is a frequent user of the bank and is very familiar with the employees who work in the branch. She said she has been wondering what their thought process has been since the incident.
“It must be an awful experience; wouldn’t you be a little scared when someone comes in and threatens any type of violence,” Janet said. “… But you have to try to go back to your regular routine and these things happen in every place.”
MCP officials could not comment if Tegegne was connected to other incidents that happened around the county include a bank robbery at a SunTrust Bank located inside a Gaithersburg Safeway grocery store in the Quince Orchard Marketplace on Jan. 12.
MCP said they could not comment further on an ongoing investigation.
Reporter Kathleen Stubbs contributed to this story.