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Police: Stamford Suspect Attempts 'Suicide by Cop'

The suspect in Tuesday's bank robbery, as seen in a shot from security footage.
The suspect in Tuesday's bank robbery, as seen in a shot from security footage.

Written by DJ McAneny.

Stamford Police tracking down leads from a bank robbery Tuesday were met at a Stamford Motel with a suspect who'd taped to his hand a pistol—which turned out to be fake—in an attempt to get police to shoot him. 

According to Lt. Diedrich Hohn, police were tracking down leads to the First County Bank robbery that occurred Tuesday morning at 1110 Hope St., which led them to theAmerica's Best Value Inn at 1209 E. Main St. During the incident, a man entered the bank, displayed a threatening note and a handgun to a teller, and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. 

Just before 2 a.m. Wednesday, police were looking for a Person of Interest in the robbery, a man Hohn identified as Francesio Pensiero, 41, of 316 Glenbrook Road. At the Inn, Hohn said they discovered a silver car authorities believed was used as a getaway vehicle in the robbery. As they were conducting surveillance on the location, Pensiero exited his hotel room with one gun taped to his right hand and a second tucked in his waistband. 

Pensiero waved the gun at police while Special Response Team officers and detectives instructed the man to drop the weapon, which he could not do, Hohn said. The man also placed the weapon to his own head during the incident, according to Hohn. 

Police were able to take the man to the ground and into custody without firing at him, at which point they identified the weapons as facsimile firearms, BB guns that had been modified to appear real. Suspects who engage in incidents such as Pensiero's are often looking to commit "suicide by cop," Hohn said, an act of getting the police to shoot them to death instead of being taken into custody.

Police towed the vehicle they believe to have been used in the bank robbery and charged Pensiero for the altercation at the Inn, though Hohn was careful to indicate he has not been indicted in the bank robbery as of Wednesday evening. Pensiero remains a person of interest, but police are still waiting for a number of lab results in the earlier case before any charges are brought against anyone, Hohn said. 

Pensiero was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer/resisting, and two counts carrying and brandishing of a facsimile firearm. He remained in police custody Wednesday evening. 

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