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Bank robber fatally shot at by SWAT team

Published February 17, 2006

DETROIT (AP) - A man who robbed a bank was killed by a gunshot wound to the head fired by a police SWAT team member after taking about 10 customers and employees hostage, police said.

All the hostages got out of the bank safely Wednesday.

"Our Detroit police department SWAT team fired one shot at the individual, striking him in the head, fatally wounding him," Second Deputy Chief James Tate said.

The man was identified yesterday by police as Donald Baird, 46, of the Detroit suburb of Wyandotte.

The man entered the Comerica Bank branch in southwest Detroit at about 4:15 p.m. and announced a robbery, then was given an undetermined amount of cash, Tate said. The man then fired one shot into the air with a long gun, he said.

Police surrounded the building shortly afterward, but Tate said officers were unable to establish contact with the man.

It was not immediately known if a security guard was inside the bank at the time of the robbery, he said.

All hostages were released by 5:30 p.m., police spokeswoman Eren Stephens Bell said.

Addie Davis of Detroit said her daughter, bank teller Barbara Howard, 46, called her from inside the bank, told her she loved her and said, "There's a man inside and he's going to kill us all."

Davis said she told her daughter to stop crying. "All we could do was pray," Davis said.

Davis said her daughter told her the man said he had a bomb, but Tate said police were not able to confirm that. A bomb disposal unit was searching the bank Wednesday evening.

There were 354 bank robberies in Michigan last year, including 76 in Detroit, according to the Detroit office of the FBI. That was down from an all-time high of 456 in 2004, including 146 in Detroit, the FBI said.

There have been four bank robberies so far this year in Detroit, not including Wednesday's attempt, Tate said yesterday.