Sheriff: Robber said he'd kill self, hostage

Associated Press
Published January 12, 2006

KISSIMMEE - A bank robber who was fatally shot by a sheriff's sniper to end a 10-hour police standoff had threatened to kill himself and his last hostage in his final moments, the Osceola County sheriff said Wednesday.

Investigators said Gaetano Alessandrello, 50, and Amanda Lynn Moeller, 26, attempted Tuesday morning to rob the Mercantile Bank on a busy tourist highway a half-mile from Walt Disney World. Three hostages were released as the standoff progressed through the afternoon and early evening, but the fourth wasn't freed until Alessandrello was shot. No hostage was injured.

Moeller's initial court appearance Wednesday was postponed after questions arose about her identity. She was being held at the Osceola County Jail without bail.

Alessandrello was nonthreatening during negotiations that brought the release of the first three hostages.

"After that, his whole demeanor changed. He started saying, "I'm not going to let this hostage go. This is my only leverage,' " Sheriff Bob Hansell said.

He became agitated and angry at times and did not keep a promise to let the final hostage go, even when authorities complied with his demands, the sheriff said.

The standoff culminated soon after Alessandrello and Moeller fled with the hostage and an undisclosed amount of money out the front of the bank as a SWAT team used explosives to blast through a rear door, authorities said. Using the hostage as a shield, they drove off in a bank employee's car but quickly returned after encountering a road barricade and stop sticks. "That's when he threatened, "Everybody's going to go with me,' " Hansell said. "We knew right then that he was not going to go mobile again because that just increases the risk to the hostage."

Alessandrello of Celebration was killed by the sniper as he tried to enter another vehicle with the hostage and Moeller.