Howard bank robbery spurs chase

one killed

November 21, 2008|By John-John Williams IV and Tyeesha Dixon | John-John Williams IV and Tyeesha Dixon and, and

John Mabry says he was one of about eight customers yesterday morning in the Bank of America branch in Clarksville when three men walked in and ordered everyone to lie down on the floor.

One man had a sawed-off shotgun and another had a handgun, Mabry said.

"They were smooth," he added. "It seemed like they had done it before."

Moments later, a teller was shot, and the robbers drove off in what became a high-speed chase spanning three counties. And when they ditched their truck in Montgomery County and fled on foot, one turned and shot at police and was killed when an officer returned fire.

The other two men continued to elude police through much of the day. One man was being interviewed yesterday, however, and investigators believed that he might be one of the robbers, according to Montgomery County police.

The crime was noteworthy for its audaciousness, Howard County police spokesman Bryce Buell said.

"Any time you come into a bank with open weapons, it's pretty brazen," the spokesman said. "This is not common for Howard County."

The robbery happened at 9:15 a.m. at the Bank of America branch in the 6300 block of Ten Oaks Road, police said.

Mabry said he had never before been in the branch. He's a sales manager for A&S Granite, a Frederick-based company that sells kitchen counter tops, and was in the area on a job.

He said the robbers appeared to be in their 20s and weren't wearing masks. While the customers were on the floor, a shot rang out, Mabry said. Police said a teller was shot in the hand and taken to Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. Police said they did not know her condition.

The robbers jumped over the counter, grabbed money and fled, Mabry said, adding that he pursued them, first on foot, then in his vehicle.

"I was mad," he said, adding that he knew there was a school nearby.

The robbers fled in a black Ford pickup, police said. Officers took up the chase east on Route 32 and eventually through Jessup and south on Route 295, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, in Anne Arundel County before the vehicle turned northwest on Route 197 toward Laurel. Radio transmissions said the chase reached speeds of 80 mph to 85 mph.

Maryland State Police and officers from Howard, Prince George's and Montgomery counties were involved, as well as a Baltimore County police helicopter.

Police said that when the men got to Montgomery County, they abandoned the truck and continued on foot. The men shed layers of clothing as they fled, said Buell, the Howard police spokesman. One turned and fired at officers and was shot by a Prince George's County police officer, according to Montgomery County police.

Police with weapons drawn stopped and searched vehicles along Greencastle Road from U.S. 29 to Old Gunpowder Road. Drivers were told to turn around unless they were residents of the area. Police said they used the "reverse 911" system to alert residents with a telephone message warning. Motorists were urged to avoid the area and refrain from picking up hitchhikers.

Police deployed dogs and officers on horseback as part of the search effort. Several nearby schools were put on lockdown.

About 4 p.m., police ended their search because the remaining man was no longer thought to be in that area, police said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Larry Carson contributed to this article

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