Third Person Dies in Mall Shooting; Bank Tape Could Identify Suspect
DEPTFORD, N.J. (AP) _ A third person died Wednesday following a mall shootout between bank robbers and a guard, and investigators found a car similar to the one driven by a robber who was killed at the scene.
Investigators also studied a scratchy bank surveillance tape that shows two men in the holdup attempt, and have identified several suspects who may have played a role in the robbery Monday at the Deptford Mall.
``We’ve got some leads,″ prosecutor Harris Y. Cotton said in an interview Wednesday. ``We got a couple of names we’re not ready to reveal.″
Maureen Lavin, 15, died of her wounds Wednesday after being hit in the head by a ricocheting bullet. Another bystander, Nicholas Morris, 17, was killed at the scene after pushing his sister to safety.
Rudolph Matlack, 22, an armored car guard, was in stable condition Wednesday with gunshot wounds.
Police said Vincent Reid, 28, was killed in the shootout as he tried to flee with a bag of money from the second-floor MidLantic Bank.
Another gunman may have escaped with two bags of money, each containing up to $100,000, sources said on condition of anonymity.
The gunfire sent shoppers running for cover as they ducked into stores and merchants locked their gates. About 2,000 shoppers were in the mall about 10 miles south of Philadelphia, one of the largest in southern New Jersey.
On Wednesday, police in West Philadelphia recovered a black Suzuki Sidekick with a Florida Olympic license plate and Camden Community College sticker, matching the description of a car Reid was seen driving Monday, Cotton said.
Motor oil had been poured over the doors in an apparent attempt to prevent fingerprint detection, police said.
Detectives fanned out in the suburban mall Wednesday, interviewing witnesses and looking for evidence. The bank, closed since the shooting, reopened Wednesday with a security guard in the lobby. A memorial of flowers, stuffed animals and signs was stacked in a pile near an ATM machine.
The shootout happened when the guard was confronted by Reid and at least one accomplice. The two were waiting for the guard after he made a pickup at the bank, authorities said.
``Someone had cased the place,″ Cotton said.
Gloucester County Medical Examiner Dr. James Lewis called for new guidelines for armored car pickups and deliveries in the wake of the shootings. Now, each armored car company sets its own policy for its guards and drivers.
``Why do we have to have armored trucks pull up to the mall on a busy day?″ asked Lewis. ``Why are we jeopardizing the lives of people?
``I say change the procedures and make it so money becomes secondary and human life becomes primary,″ Lewis said.
Lewis said Reid was shot four times in the body and once in the back of the head, and lay in a pool of blood with his eyes wide open.
``He had a look of `I made a mistake,‴ the medical examiner said. ``But it was too late. He had set into motion an irreversible sequence of events that led to death and he knew it.″