Fugitive suspected of hitting 5th bank Man who escaped police Tuesday believed to be robber at Belair Rd. site

March 29, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The bank robbery suspect who slipped out of handcuffs and escaped the police headquarters building Tuesday is suspected of holding up another bank yesterday -- the fifth one he is alleged to have robbed in the past nine days.

Police said the latest robbery was at a NationsBank in the 3400 block of Belair Road. Banks on Harford Road about 2 miles away, were the site of the other robberies in which Thomas T. Hooper, 45, is a suspect.

Police said the robber left the money behind yesterday, after the dye pack exploded in the lobby, and ran out of the bank leaving his stained blue cap and blue jacket behind. He was still being sought yesterday.

"We've been operational around the clock since he escaped," said Lt. Larry Leeson, head of the Baltimore police robbery unit. He said detectives investigated more than 50 tips yesterday and arrested friends of the suspect on outstanding warrants in hopes of finding the man.

And police, saying the suspect has a drug habit, repeated their warnings that the man could strike again. "He's desperate," Lieutenant Leeson said.

Officers were ordered to check train and bus stations in case the man tries to "get out of town."

Mr. Hooper, who lives in the 2900 block of Goodwood Road, is charged with robbing four banks -- all between the 5400 and 7600 blocks of Harford Road. He was arrested Tuesday and escaped from an interview room that day.

Yesterday, police said a man fitting Mr. Hooper's description and using a similar note -- one threatening to stick tellers with a human immunodeficiency virus-infected needle -- held up the NationsBank about 9: 10 a.m.

After the robbery, witnesses told police a man got into a gray van with a large dent on the driver's side and a partial Maryland license plate with the letters "SZ."

John Bowers, executive vice president of the Maryland Bankers Association, said his group has "a lot of confidence in local law enforcement and the FBI. I'm sure with the resources they have at hand they will recapture the individual. We hope it will be quicker rather than later."

Pub Date: 3/29/96

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