Shootout in Square Foils Bank Robbery

Two Suspects Hospitalized, Under Arrest; One Still at Large

An attempted daylight robbery of a Brinks armored car delivering cash to a Harvard Square bank was foiled yesterday when its guard opened fire, wounding at least two suspects and sending a hail of bullets sailing across a crowded Harvard Square.

The two wounded suspects were heavily guarded last night at Beth Israel Hospital, one in critical condition in the operating room.

FBI agents as well as Cambridge, Harvard and state police are continuing a hunt for a third suspect, who escaped. Police consider the suspect, who fled through Harvard Square buildings, to be "armed and dangerous," Cambridge Police Detective Frank T. Pasquarello said yesterday.

Cambridge police and several witnesses said the violence started when the would-be robbers struck and threatened the guard as he wheeled in sacks of cash on a dolly into the vestibule of the Bank of Boston, in the center of Harvard Square.

"Don't make a move or I'll kill you," one of the suspects told the guard, according to Pasquarello.

The suspects had been waiting in the bank's vestibule for the guard, who was bringing in cash.

One of the suspects threatened the guard with a gun, took one of the cloth sacks of cash and then fled, according to witnesses. The guard ran after the two men and opened fire, hitting one suspect in the back and another in the head and arm, police said.

Injured, the two suspects attempted to climb into a getaway car, but their flight was prevented when they crashed into a Cutlass Supreme a few feet ahead on Dunster Street, near the corner of Mass. Ave. Cambridge police officers and ambulances arrived seconds later, taking the suspects, both bleeding, into custody.

At least six rounds of ammunition--one from the suspects and at least five from the guard--were fired in the exchange, Pasquarello said.

The guard, whom police refused to identify, was not wounded.

The third suspect fled down Dunster Street, and for several hours was believed to be hiding in the Dunster Street garage or in University Health Services (UHS).

For three hours, Cambridge police thoroughly searched all UHS offices with trained dogs, but announced their failure to find him around 5 p.m. The suspect, who remains at large, is described as a white male in his 20s.

Lunchtime crowds of Cantabrigians and Harvard students ran in terror as the shots were fired, hiding. between cars, under tables and behind theconcrete benches outside the Dunster St. Au BonPain. No bystander injuries were reported.

Traffic halted as the bullets careened acrossthe Square. Some motorists tried to drive inreverse down the busy, one-way avenue in anattempt to get out of the line of fire.

Pasquarello said police recovered the stolensack of cash and several firearms from thewould-be getaway car, a four-door maroon 1991Buick Century. Ballistic tests identified theweapons as a .357 magnum, a 9-millimeter pistol,and a Tech 9 semiautomatic weapon. The weaponswere fully loaded.

"It's unbelievable the amount of firepower theyhad," said detective Pasquarello. "It'sunfortunate that anyone had to get shot, but theybrought it on themselves."

"These people were here for one reason and onereason only--that was to harm somebody,"Pasquarello said.

The wounded suspects, taken to Beth IsraelHospital, were identified as Keith Leahy andBrendon Smith, two white males, both believed tobe around 27 years old and from Charlestown.

Leahy, who was shot in the back, was in stablecondition last night, according to Beth Israelspokesperson Milica Kokotovic.

Hospital spokesperson Anthony Lloyd toldreporters yesterday afternoon that Smith had beenin the neurosurgery operating room since 1:30 p.m.He left the operating room at 11 p.m. and is incritical condition, said hospital spokespersonDebbie Smith.

Police refused to disclose any informationabout the guard or how many shots he fired.

Eyewitnesses gave several accounts of theshootout. Sidney D. Weinberg, a Brooklineresident, was making a withdrawal from anautomated teller machine in the Bank of Bostonwhen the shootout occurred. He said the two menattacked the Brinks guard in the external bankfoyer and threw him to the ground.

"He accosted [the guard] immediately at thedoor of the vestibule, and pushed him inside, witha gun to the armed-guard's head," Weinberg said.

"The assailant had one or two bags [which] heran out with," Weinberg added. "He left four orfive on the cart. I think he was debating what hewas going to do and decided not to shoot theguard."

By only hitting the guard in the head, notshooting him, the suspects may have sealed theirown fate, Weinberg said.

"I saw the two guys taking off, trying to getinto the car," said Cambridge resident RogerArcher, an eyewitness. "But they dropped the moneyand then the guard started unloading shots, aboutsix of them. It was just boom, boom, boom--theshots were flying."

Police said they did not know whether thesuspects or the guard fired first, but Mike Culisof Woburn, an eyewitness, said "the guard didn'tfire until he was fired upon."

"All I saw was the Brinks guy with his gun,ducking and shooting," said Chris Mackin ofOwnership Associates, a consulting firm on DunsterSt. "The person who looked like he was shot deadwas wearing a fake beard and mustache. But thedriver, he was clearly alert, you could see hiseyes."

The robbers wore "fake hair, mustaches andeyeglasses," said M.J. White of Orleans, aneyewitness. "The guard yelled `Stop, robbery!Stop, robbery!' People were running back andforth. One of the guys was face down andtwitching. There could have been a third one whoditched his disguise."

"The security guard had two pistols," Whitecontinued. "He unloaded one pistol and thenunloaded another."

Tim O'Rourke, a Harvard courier, watched theshootout from a third-floor window in HolyokeCenter.

"All I saw looking out the window was twoindividuals on the ground, shot," O'Rourke said."The driver looked like he was shot in the back.The suspect in the back seat was already in snow,blood coming from his head."

Pasquarello said the suspects continued toexchange gunfire with the Brinks guard, even afterthey had entered the getaway vehicle. The car'sfour windows and back window were all shot out.

Bullets, apparently from the Brinks guard'sweapon, also shattered a Cambridge Trust bankwindow more than 50 feet away, and one was lodgedin the Cambridge Trust automated-teller machine,Pasquarello said.

The Bank of Boston branch was closed forseveral hours after the shooting.

The Guard and the Suspects

Law enforcement officials refused to identifythe guard, but praised his actions. "I think theguard was very heroic. He held his ground," PoliceSuperintendent Walter L. Boyle said at a pressconference yesterday afternoon.

"He obviously took the action he deemednecessary," agreed Boston FBI Special Agent PeterS. Ginieres. "It was a job well done on his part."

Seated in the Brinks armored car, the guard wasapproached by a Crimson reporter 15 minutes afterthe incident, but declined to comment.

As a crowd of more than 350 Cantabrigians andHarvard students gathered in the Square, a towtruck removed the getaway vehicle, which hadremained running for more than an hour after theshootout.

Hours later, a crowd looked on as policeremoved bits of cerebral tissue--presumably fromthe suspect shot in the head--from a pile ofunmelted snow. FBI agents then placed exhibitmarkers at the sites on the sidewalk and streetwhere blood was found.

At the press conference, Boyle said the twosuspects under arrest had been not yet beenarraigned, but would be charged with at leastarmed robbery, assault with intent to murder, andassault and battery, Boyle said.

Pasquarello declined to offer details of thesuspects' past. "We can't discuss any of theirpast arrests," the detective said. "We don't havethat kind of information, anyway."

However, Brendon Smith is reportedly on theFBI's short list of most wanted bank robbers inthe state.

A man answering the phone at Leahy's residenceat 104 Elm St. in Charlestown identified himselfas the suspect's father, but declined to discussthe details of the incident.

Police identified the getaway car as a stolenvehicle.

A receptionist at the Massachusetts Registry ofMotor Vehicles identified the getaway car'slicense-plate number and said the car belonged toReppucci Auto Body and Repair, Inc., of Reading.

But reached by telephone, Bob Reppucci, theowner of the shop, denied that the company ownedthe car in question. "We don't own a vehicle likethat," Reppucci said. "We don't have any carsregistered under the shop."

In addition, Aubrey Hasner, public-relationsdirector for the registry, said the license plateis under investigation and that the agency cannotrelease information on the car's ownership.

The Roxbury office of Brinks Inc. referred allinquiries to its national headquarters in Darien,Conn. A company officer at the headquarters saidBrinks Inc. had no immediate comment.

"We will be issuing whatever comments we thinkare appropriate sometime tomorrow," the Brinksofficer said.

Law-enforcement officers refused to say whetherthe Brinks guard followed proper procedure inpursuing and firing at the suspects--through adensely crowded Square--even after they had leftthe bank with the sack of money. Boyle saidarmored-car procedures were "highly confidentialinformation."

"They have their process, and we're not goingto comment on them," Pasquarello said. ButGenieres said armored-car companies will be"revisiting their procedures" as part of the workof the Boston-area Bank Robbery/Armed Crime TaskForce coordinated by the Boston FBI.

Suspect Still at Large

The third suspect, who remains at large, isbelieved to have been an accomplice at the frontof the bank. Rather than joining Leahy and Smith,he is believed to have fled down Dunster Streettoward Mt. Auburn Street, Pasquarello said.

"We're going on the assumption that he may havebeen injured," the detective added.

The third suspect is believed to have dropped"some evidence behind" during his flight,Pasquarello said.

A beige "jacket consistent with the injuries"and ripped by a bullet hole was found inside UHS,the detective said. "We're going on the assumptionthat the jacket belonged to the third suspect," headded, though he said it could have been discardedby anybody at the scene.

"He may have taken off into anotherneighborhood," Pasquarello admitted.

The search is a joint effort among Harvard,city and state police and FBI agents. The HarvardPolice contingent at the site is being led by Lt.Lawrence J. Murphy, according to Sgt. John J.Miller.

Police cordoned off Dunster St. and blocked allentrances to UHS with officers. Hospital staffwere evacuated and forbidden to re-enter.

"No one's been allowed in the building," saidDr. Irving M. Allen, a UHS psychiatrist. "They arenot telling us what the exact problem is. We'veheard rumors they are going through the building."

"We were told there was an evacuation and thatwe could leave if we wanted," said Carie M.Ullman, UHS manager for strategic and operationalplanning. "We felt pretty safe."

Ullman said around a dozen police officers anda trained dog searched the administrative offices.

The canine search failed, as the dog wasreturned to a police wagon and police permittedpatients and staff to re-enter Holyoke Center.

Past Robberies

Yesterday's attempted heist was the first inCambridge "in five or six years," according toCity Manager Robert W. Healy.

But throughout the state, bank robberies aremore prevalent. "Unfortunately, it's becoming alltoo frequent," FBI agent Ginieres said. Less thana month ago, a Wells Fargo guard was shot andwounded while making deliveries at restaurants inBoston. No arrests have yet been made.

Genieres said the FBI was continuing toinvestigate a possible link between the foiledrobbery and a similar heist last summer in NewHampshire, in which two guards died.

Tara H. Arden-Smith, Victor T. Chen, SarahE. Scrogin, Joshua J. Schanker, Edward B. SmithIII and Andrew L. Wright contributed to thereporting of this story.CrimsonTara H. Arden-SmithA crowd of more than 350 gathered around theshootout site.