Robbery foiled by hostage

The Baltimore Sun

Two would-be bank robbers held a Prince George's County family hostage overnight, hoping to use the bank employee mother to get to the money, Maryland State Police said. But their plan fell apart yesterday when a state trooper stopped the family car as it headed for the bank.

Police said the crime began at 7:30 p.m. Friday. As the 39-year-old mother, a manager of the Sun Trust Bank in Silver Spring, walked into her house in Clinton, she was accosted by two men who had a gun and a knife, police said.

The men tied up the woman and her 40-year-old husband with electrical cord and stayed with them in the house overnight.

The couple have two children, ages 8 and 11, who were in the house. Police did not identify the family.

Yesterday morning, well before the bank was scheduled to open at 9 a.m., one of the intruders forced the family to drive to the bank, apparently planning to steal money with the mother's help, police said.

But just after 7:30 a.m., Trooper Barrington Cameron, on patrol on the outer loop of Interstate 495 near U.S. 1, saw the family's Mitsubishi Gallant, driven by the father, weaving back and forth and changing lanes erratically.

State police spokesman Greg Shipley said the father was trying to catch the officer's attention.

The trooper stopped the car and approached the father, who told him that the man in the back seat had a gun. The trooper drew his weapon and called for backup officers. The gunman was arrested without incident, police said. Police found a loaded semiautomatic pistol and a knife in the car.

Police thought the other intruder was still in the family's house. At 1 p.m., they entered the house but he was gone, police said. The second intruder was being sought yesterday.

The identity of the arrested man, who appears to be in his late teens or early 20s, was unknown, police said. While in custody at the state police College Park barracks yesterday, the man put his shirt around his neck and tied it to the cell door in an attempt to hang himself, but an officer saw him and stopped him, police said. The man was uninjured but was taken to a hospital for observation.

In a similar case three months ago, two men kidnapped a Southern Maryland bank employee and her two young children from their home, then forced her to steal money from the bank before it opened that day for business. Four suspects were later arrested and charged in that case.

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