City officer interrupts robbery gun taken

Veteran chases man

police arrest suspect

September 24, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

It was one of those routine bank checks that Officer Charles Stahm had done countless times. Walk in, see if everything is OK and leave.

But yesterday morning, a man with a gun took him by surprise at a Signet Bank branch in the 1000 block of E. Baltimore St. and turned the start of an average day into a nightmare for him, three customers and three tellers.

Before the 17-year police veteran could react, he was facing the muzzle of a handgun and a quickly advancing gunman, who shouted a warning: "Don't do anything stupid."

"I was told to give up my service weapon," Stahm, 37, said yesterday evening. "I would not comply to that. The suspect then ordered me on the ground, then straddled me and placed his weapon to the side of my neck, behind my ear."

The officer said the man took his 9 mm handgun, ordered three customers and two bank workers to the floor and demanded money from a teller.

"He was methodical and calculating," Stahm said. "He removed a bag from his waistband and handed it to a teller and instructed her not to hand him any small bills. He wanted 20s or larger and he said that if he got a dye pack, he would kill everyone in that bank.

"You could hear a pin drop in that bank. It was so quiet, and it seemed that it lasted forever."

But the drama didn't end there.

After getting the money and stuffing it down the front of his pants, police said, the man ran out of the bank and headed north on Aisquith Street, holding one gun in each hand.

Stahm, unarmed, ran after him and frantically called for help on his radio.

After a half-block chase, police said, the man turned and fired one

shot at the officer, who ducked for cover. He was not hit.

Moments later, officers swarmed over the neighborhood and after a brief chase cornered the man four blocks north of the bank, pressed up against a wall near a church in the 1200 block of Elmleaf Court.

Stahm said the man was arrested at gunpoint, still holding a gun in each hand.

Alexander Manigult, 33, of the 2400 block of E. Oliver St. was charged with bank robbery, assault with intent to murder, reckless endangerment, two handgun violations, abduction and theft of a weapon, police said.

At the bank, employees and customers were escorted into waiting police cars and taken downtown for questioning.

"That cop was tremendous," said Lloyd Hightower, as he emerged from the bank in front of a throng of television cameras.

Hightower had been banking with his brother when the robbery occurred.

Stahm said he was as scared as anyone else while lying on the floor.

"I was thinking of my 6-year-old son, believe it or not," Stahm said. "That's what kept me cool, calm and collected. I was thinking, 'Don't be combative. Be polite and comply and I'll probably survive it.' "

The officer said he probably won't tell his son, Mitchell, what happened yesterday.

"I don't want to scare him," he said. "I don't want him to think that police work is like this every day. It's really not."

Pub Date: 9/24/96

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