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FINANCE PEACE OFFICER SHOT, ROBBED AT BANK

Aug. 15, 2001 – Police had one suspect in custody and were searching for a second Wednesday afternoon after a Finance Department peace officer was shot with his own gun and robbed as he was carrying two bags of money into the Chase Bank branch in Estate Thomas.
The two gunmen fled on foot with officer Ira Christopher's Glock 9mm handgun and the two bags of cash and checks, leaving Christopher critically wounded. The robbery and shooting occurred outside of the bank at about 1:15 p.m.
Within minutes, police apprehended a man they believe to be one of the assailants on Fourth Street in Sugar Estate. Another suspect disappeared on foot in the area of Charlotte Amalie High School.
Throughout the rest of the afternoon, FBI agents and police, including K-9 teams, combed the area. Race Track Road was closed between the Domino gas station and Raphune Hill for about an hour as security personnel fanned out across the area, according to Sgt. Annette Raimer, police spokeswoman. Late in the afternoon, a helicopter was called in to assist in what Raimer described as a major manhunt.
Christopher underwent emergency surgery at Schneider Hospital for a gunshot wound through his arm and to the chest. He was listed in critical condition late Wednesday afternoon, according to police.
Christopher, who was in uniform as well as armed, was carrying the bank bags to the Chase branch to make a deposit, according to Austin Nibbs, Finance deputy commissioner. The two robbers surprised him from behind, grabbed the bags and his firearm, and then shot him with the weapon, Nibbs said.
Neither police nor Finance Department officials would say how much money was stolen, but Nibbs said it was an especially large deposit because many people have been taking advantage of an amnesty program for paying delinquent property taxes.
None of the money had been recovered by Wednesday evening, but police reported recovering an Uzi submachine gun that they believed was used by one of the assailants in the heist. Police were interrogating the apprehended suspect.
The Chase branch in Sugar Estate will be closed Thursday because of the incident but will reopen Friday for normal banking hours, Chase officials announced Wednesday afternoon.

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