- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The FBI and police in the District and Prince George’s County are offering $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a dangerous and skilled gang that has robbed five area banks of more than $300,000 this year.

“We’re asking for the public’s assistance to put an end to these violent bank robberies,” said Kevin L. Perkins, FBI special agent in charge of the Baltimore field office.

“These individuals have indicated a propensity for violence,” said Prince George’s Police Chief Melvin High, referring to the robbery of a Hyattsville bank on May 27 when several shots were fired at a county police officer.

“They pose a danger to the public,” said Calvin Shivers, of the FBI’s field office in the District.

One shot was fired during the most recent robbery on Saturday morning at the Industrial Bank, 2012 Rhode Island Ave. NE, but no one was injured. Neither police nor FBI agents would say how much money was stolen. The robbers escaped in two stolen vehicles that later were found on 19th Street NE, and at 30th and Shepherd streets in Mount Rainier.

Authorities learned from descriptions from bank clerks, other witnesses and videos that the robbers were “four or five” black males in their 20s and 30s, wearing masks and heavy clothing, carrying automatic, assault-style rifles and using stolen vans as getaway vehicles.

The robbers had few distinctive features, said Hyattsville Chief Douglas Holland.

The first robbery occurred Jan. 22 when five men reportedly fled with about $140,000 from a Bank of America branch in the 5900 block of Blair Road NW. They used a green Dodge Caravan stolen in Montgomery County, and a silver BMW sport utility vehicle.

On March 5, three men entered Riggs Bank branch in the 7600 block of Georgia Avenue NW, while a fourth waited in a getaway car and a fifth stood nearby on lookout.

They took $94,000 and torched a black Acura on Laurel Street NW.

On May 10, three robbers took $50,000 from a Chevy Chase Bank branch in the 3600 block of St. Barnabas Road in Temple Hills.

Seventeen days later, they hit another Chevy Chase Bank in the 5800 block of Eastern Avenue in Hyattsville for $18,000.

Some of the robbers wore a “type of military dress,” Chief Holland said.

Four stolen vans were set afire after the getaways as the robbers apparently transferred to other means of escape.

“My guess is when you destroy vehicles, you destroy evidence,” Mr. Shivers said, but police declined to say whether evidence had been found despite the fires.

Another common feature of the robberies is that they occurred about 10 a.m. and took six or seven minutes as the gunmen forced bank employees and customers to lie on the floor while they stuffed cash into bags.

“Each [robbery] seems to be very well planned and very well coordinated among the individuals involved,” Mr. Perkins said.

Owners and witnesses are asked to notify authorities immediately about stolen vehicles.

The $50,000 reward has been offered to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robbers. Tipsters should call 202/278-2000, or log on to the FBI Web site, www.FBI.gov.

The names of informants and the information will be kept confidential upon request, Mr. Shivers said.

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