Cabdriver wrestles with gunman, prevents escape

November 09, 1991|By Roger Twigg

Two Baltimore police officers escaped injury yesterday when a cabdriver wrestled with a suspected bank robber who had pointed a semiautomatic handgun at them, according to police.

"That was pretty heroic," said Detective Berry L. Grant of the robbery unit. "Most people would have bailed out and kept on running."

The incident began about 2 p.m. when a man walked into the Harbor City Bank in the first block of West Fayette Street and robbed a teller at gunpoint of about $2,000, according to police.

As the gunman left the bank, one of the employees pushed a silent alarm.

The gunman got into the front seat of a Yellow cab at the stand in front of the Omni Hotel, less than 100 yards away.

At that moment, Officers Anthony D. Gingles, 30, and Angelo D. La-Viola, 40, of the Central District were converging on the scene.

Detective Grant said the gunman panicked at the sight of police and put his gun to the head of the cabdriver, Albert Cooper, 53, of Washington Village.

As the officers walked up to the passenger side of the cab, the gunman pointed the gun out the window toward them.

Mr. Cooper then grabbed the man from behind and wrestled for control of the handgun as the officers quickly opened the door and pulled the man to the ground.

Police said they recovered the stolen bank money and a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun containing six rounds.

Leon Omar Mason, 36, of the 4000 block of Glen Avenue, was charged with bank robbery, two handgun violations, two counts of assault and reckless endangerment, police said.

Mr. Mason was taken to the Central District lockup last night to await a bail hearing.

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