Timing yields arrest in robbery Man in heavy coat outside bank arouses officers' suspicions

January 06, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Two Anne Arundel County police officers thought it odd that a man walking into a Millersville bank yesterday was wearing a heavy winter coat on such a warm day. Even more odd, he rushed out stuffing a fat blue pillowcase under the coat.

They chased him, arrested him and recovered a knife and stolen money in the pillowcase, police said.

Donald Lee White of the 800 block of Marengo St. in Annapolis was charged with bank robbery.

"It was one of those things where we just happened to be at the right place at the right time," said Cpl. Maxwell V. Frye, one of the two officers.

Frye said he and his partner, Officer Kevin Heiser -- both of the tactical patrol unit, which handles stakeouts and surveillances of suspects -- were en route to police headquarters in Millersville to pick up mug shots when they passed the Northway Shopping Center on Veterans Highway and decided to do a random check.

Frye said they had walked around the center and were about to get into their unmarked car when they noticed a man walking toward Carrollton Bank of Baltimore at 8269 Veterans Highway just before 11 a.m.

"What attracted our attention was, he was wearing a heavy winter coat and here it was 70 degrees outside," Frye said. "Kevin and I both agreed it just didn't look right."

Frye said they became more suspicious when the man went into the bank, so they drove over and parked.

A man entered the bank and handed a teller a note implying that he had a weapon and demanded money, police said. The teller complied, and the man left with a pillowcase stuffed with cash.

Frye said they knew a robbery had occurred when a bank employee locked the doors as soon as the man left. He said that is the usual procedure to secure a crime scene and to prevent a robber from returning.

Heiser chased the man across the parking lot while Frye tried to corner him with the car.

"Being older and wiser, I decided I'm not running across [Interstate] 97 and climbing that fence. I can't keep up with these young guys, you know. I know my limitations," said Frye, who has been with the county police for 22 years. Heiser has five years of experience.

The robbery suspect ran across I-97, weaving through traffic before climbing a fence on the other side of the highway and going into a residential neighborhood. "He was almost run over by a tractor-trailer," Frye said.

"A lot of times people that are fleeing from police seem to have a little more energy than we do. I don't know why that is," Frye said.

Heiser chased the man across the highway, and Frye met him on the other side of I-97. By then, Frye said, about 30 patrol cars were on the scene. Police found the man about 11: 15 a.m. during a house-to-house search. He was hiding in the crawl space beneath a house in the 700 block of Oakdale Circle, police said.

Neither Frye nor Heiser had seen a robbery. "We're just tickled we were able to make [the Northern District's] first armed robbery arrest of the year," Frye said.

Pub Date: 1/06/98

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