The mastermind of the Port Richmond bank robbery was Howard Cain, who was fatally shot by police Saturday while fleeing in a minivan minutes after he fired a once-banned high-powered Chinese assault rifle, killing Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, police say.
As investigators pieced together how a trio of killers met and plotted the deadly bank robbery, scores of police and FBI agents searched from Philadelphia to Lancaster County for the last suspect, Eric DeShawn Floyd, 34, an escapee from a drug-treatment facility called Adappt, in Reading.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey described Floyd as "armed and dangerous" and urged him to turn himself in.
Yesterday, Lavon Warner, 38, a onetime sparring partner of former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, was held without bail on murder, robbery and related charges after his arrest Saturday.
Cain dreamed up the bank robbery, but his prison buddie, Floyd, had the expertise, police said.
A police source said that every Friday, Cain, 33, of Cleveland Street near Sheridan, in North Philadelphia, used to meet his boss at the Bank of America branch inside the ShopRite Supermarket, on Aramingo Avenue near Castor.
His boss would give him his weekly check, believed to be for working as a roadside assistant helping motorists. Cain would cash the check at the bank, the source said.
At the time, Cain was living in the same building, on Clearfield Street near Sheridan, as Floyd, a fugitive, who had served a state prison sentence for a 1994 bank robbery, the source said.
The two felons met Warner, the ex-boxer, in their North Philadelphia neighborhood, the source added.
Cain apparently realized he couldn't hold up a bank where he was known, so he and Floyd donned Muslim women's clothes - a hijab covering their heads; long dresses, called an abaya; and face veils, called nik-ab - to prevent detection, the source said.
Warner, of Westminster Street near 54th, wore a dreadlock wig and dust mask, the source added. Then, the trio marched into the bank, and Sgt. Liczbinski responded to the bank robbery alarm at 11:26 a.m.
The trio hopped in a blue Jeep Liberty. Hearing flash information about the Jeep, Liczbinski chased the vehicle, which stopped twice before hitting a pole. Cain jumped out and fired the high-powered SKS assault rifle five times at the officer, hitting his left trunk and leaving him in a pool of blood, at Schiller and Almond streets, police said.
Liczbinski's car had one bullet hole on the driver's side door.
The Jeep took off. Cain and Warner then switched vehicles and changed clothes, hopping in a Chrysler Town and Country minivan, according to police. Cain was alone, however, when stopped by police on Louden Street near D, where he was killed by police.
At a news conference yesterday, Deputy Police Commissioner William Blackburn said that outside the minivan, police found the 7.62 mm SKS assault rifle, loaded with 25 rounds, which had been used in Liczbinski's slaying. Five rounds found at the murder scene at Schiller and Almond streetswere consistent with the SKS rifle.
Inside the minivan was a .44-caliber revolver, fully loaded with five live rounds, two sets of Muslim clothing, $38,000 and two GPS tracking systems.
Under a trash can nearby in a common driveway, police recovered a fully loaded .22-caliber revolver and additional clothing linked to the robbery.
Police found the blue Jeep Liberty, used in the officer's killing, on Miller Street near East Ontario. The Jeep had been reported stolen by Warner, after the robbery at 4:45 p.m. Friday, at Broad Street near Allegheny Avenue.
In addition, a dreadlock wig, a dust mask and a blue bag with red handles were also recovered.
Many Muslims expressed anger yesterday that criminals would jeopardize Muslim women by wearing their garb.
"It puts sisters in danger," said one Muslim. Islamic researcher Fareed NuMan said, "They couldn't be practicing Muslims, no way. The Quran forbids a man to imitate a woman."
"Our [Germantown] Masjid is "saddened and angry," said managing director Tariq El Shabazz, also a defense atttorney. "We, like the rest of Philadelphia, are sick and tired of being sick and tired" of the violence.
Anyone with information was asked to call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 or the Citizens Crime Commission at 215-686-TIPS. *
Staff writer Dafney Tales contributed to this report.