Robbery suspect cleared after standoff

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A four-hour standoff at a Jessup home between Howard County police and a 19-year-old man suspected of robbing an armored truck employee at a nearby bank ended peacefully after he came out of the house and was questioned and released.

Police did not charge the man, whom they refused to identify.

About 10:30 a.m., a Brink's Inc. employee was robbed by a man with a gun in the lobby of Wachovia Bank at 8600 Washington Blvd., police said.

An officer with the police dog unit responded immediately to the scene with a trained dog who picked up a scent and tracked it behind the Columbia Junction shopping plaza into deep woods and onto a trail that led to a house about a quarter-mile away. Police surrounded a small home in the 8600 block of Pine Road with cruisers and officers, a tactical unit, negotiators and an armored truck into the midafternoon yesterday.

Police used a bullhorn to try to communicate with the occupant. They repeatedly urged him to communicate with them.

"Please pick up the phone. ... [Your family] is concerned about you. Just pick up the phone," a voice was heard booming yesterday over a bullhorn.

Police negotiators made contact with the man about 3 p.m. and encouraged him to come out of the house. He was briefly detained and questioned until police determined he was not involved in the robbery.

Special Agent Barry A. Maddox, an FBI spokesman for the Baltimore field office, said the agency had opened a case on the robbery and was working with Howard County police on the investigation. He said the robber is being sought.

The incident caused a stir in the neighborhood, which is between Interstate 95 and Washington Boulevard. As police closed Pine Road to traffic, neighbors walked around trying to glean details from officers and other neighbors.

"It's scary, especially when I saw them all with the guns," Tina Sealing said yesterday while standing in her front yard at Pine and Guilford roads.

The Wachovia branch was closed after the robbery and did not reopen yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Brink's Inc., based in Darien, Conn., said she could not comment on the Howard situation or on how drivers handle security during their deliveries.

"We are aware of it, and we are cooperating with local police and the FBI," spokeswoman Emanuela Cellamare said of the situation.

Police would not disclose how much money was stolen in the robbery.

Sun staff writer Lisa Goldberg contributed to this article.

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