CLEVELAND - A police officer was shot in the face, but still managed to stop a bank robbery that was in progress at a busy Cleveland Key Bank Tuesday morning, saving the lives of innocent customers and bank employees, 19/43 News' Wendy Gillette reported.
It happened at the bank located at the corner of East 105th Street and Superior Avenue at approximately 10 a.m.
Thanks to a heroic police officer, everyone in the bank escaped safely, able to share the details of the frightening ordeal.
"He told the police officer not to move, to stand right there, and he reached for his gun," bank customer Donna Jackson said. "The boy shot at least three or four times."
Police officer Paul Viancourt, 23, of Hinckley, was shot in the face. Viancourt, who works full time for Key Bank's private police force, was there to protect customers and employees, and on Tuesday, he did just that.
"(The officer) got his gun out and started shooting back," Jackson said.
"It was like bombs going off. That's what it sounded like," bank customer Otis Goodrun said. "They were exchanging gunfire pretty good."
"The security guard was yelling for everyone to get down, and his concern was very much for the five customers and three additional employees," Cleveland Police Lt. Sharon MacKay said.
Police said that the officer shot the 25-year-old robber -- Damion Sample -- in the stomach and the leg. Sample crawled outside and collapsed on the sidewalk. He is currently in critical condition at Huron Hospital.
Fortunately for the loved ones of those innocent people inside the bank, including Cathy Evins, whose mother witnessed the attempted robbery, nobody else was hurt.
"I'm glad everyone came out all right," Evins said. "I was so worried about my mom."
Thanks to Viancourt, Evins' mother and everyone else in the bank on Tuesday morning made it out alive and well.
Police are looking for a second man in connection with the robbery. They said that he was wearing a red coat, a bandana over his face and a blue scarf.
Tuesday's robbery attempt was the third such incident at the bank since Thanksgiving.
The first two attempted robberies are not related to the latest one. Police have already made arrests in the previous cases.
A Key Bank spokesman said that the bank would reopen on Thursday with increased security.