Policeman on sick leave nabs bank robbery suspect Man grabs officer's gun in struggle before arrest

February 08, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Due to incorrect information from the Baltimore City Police Department, an article Saturday misidentified the agency of an officer who helped city police arrest a suspected bank robber. The officer works for the Department of General Services, which is responsible for patrolling state property.

The Sun regrets the error.

Baltimore Police Officer Staccato R. Butler is winning his battle with throat cancer, but he nearly lost the fight of his life yesterday struggling with a man suspected of robbing a downtown bank.

The 13-year veteran, who is off duty recovering from his illness, was trying to deposit a check at the Signet Bank at 6 St. Paul St. about 2: 40 p.m. when a man ahead of him made threatening gestures and told a teller to "Open it up. Give me all you got."

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

A frightened teller handed the man $2,000, then quietly told the officer that she had been robbed. "I saw the guy put the money in his pocket as he went through the revolving door," Butler said yesterday.

Before the tellers could activate the silent alarm, Butler, 33, was in pursuit, slowly following the suspect several blocks to Charles Center and down an escalator to the Metro station. He pulled out his gun and told the man to surrender.

By that time, a Mass Transit Administration police officer arrived and tried to cuff the man, who started to fight. The 5-foot-9-inch, 150-pound Butler holstered his weapon and joined in the fracas with the suspect, who is 6 feet 3 inches and weighs 225 pounds.

During the fight, Butler's gun fell, and he and the suspect grabbed the weapon. Butler said he pulled the slide to "safety," so the gun wouldn't fire just before the suspect pulled the trigger.

"It was the most scared I've ever been in my life," said the officer, who is assigned to the mounted horse unit.

Lt. Larry Leeson, head of the robbery unit, said the suspect was being questioned last night and could be charged in five recent bank robberies in the city and one in Baltimore County.

Pub Date: 2/08/97

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