- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2001

An off-duty D.C. police officer foiled a robbery yesterday, pulling his gun and wounding two armed men who had stormed into a Southeast loan center and ordered everyone to the ground.
Officer Martin Freeman, an 11-year veteran of the force, "is nothing short of a hero for what he did," Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey told reporters at the scene. "He was very cool during the entire situation. There was no injury to citizens at all."
The chief said it sounded like something out of a movie — at one point, one of the men even held a knife to a woman's throat.
The suspects — Walter Howard and Larry Green, both 51 and D.C. residents — are in good condition at Washington Hospital Center with minor injuries. Neither took a direct hit. Both have criminal histories.
According to police, two men — one armed with a gun, the other with a knife — entered First Cash Advance in the Fairfax Village Shopping Center in the 3800 block of Pennsylvania Ave. SE about 9 a.m. and announced a holdup.
"It's scary. You know, we're right next door," said Myra Cruz, an employee at Gambro Healthcare.
Among the customers at the loan center was Officer Freeman, 37, a member of the police department's Emergency Response Team. "The officer was just in there doing business," said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman.
Officer Freeman got down on the floor with everyone else, but then pulled his service weapon, stood up and identified himself.
One of the robbers pointed his gun at the officer. "The officer fired one round," Chief Ramsey said. "That person went down."
The second robber then grabbed a woman and put his knife to her throat. Officer Freeman ordered the man to drop the weapon.
"The woman very alertly dropped to the ground," the chief said. "The officer then had a clear shot and fired."
Officer Freeman's shots shattered a couple of plate-glass windows that rained down shards of glass upon the would-be robbers.
Mr. Howard was cut in the upper body by shards of flying glass, said hospital spokesman LeRoy Tillman. Mr. Green suffered similar injuries, and graze wounds to his right shoulder and right buttocks, Mr. Tillman said.
Police charged them with attempted robbery while armed, Sgt. Gentile said.
An employee at another First Cash Advance in the District said the branch in Southeast is one of the busiest in the area.
In a separate confrontration, D.C. police shot an armed man about 2:30 p.m. in Southeast. The man, shot after a confrontation with officers, was listed in critical condition last night at Washington Hospital Center. No details about the shooting were available last night.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officers in Loudoun County, are praising Deputy Jon Labrie, who nabbed his own bank robber Saturday after the man flung open the bank doors and had no place to run.
"The deputy happened to be in the right place at the right time," said Capt. Randy Badura of the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office.
Capt. Badura said the robber walked into the F&M; Bank on Davis Drive in Sterling about 11:45 a.m. and caught the eye of a teller. She recognized the man's face from wanted fliers posted around town. The bank manager pressed the silent alarm before the robbery.
As the man left the bank with stolen money, he noticed Deputy Labrie, who had been patrolling the neighborhood when the call went out. The man tried to run back into the bank, but employees had already locked the door.
Police identified the suspect as Frank Phillip Kalita, 55, of Beltsville. He is charged with robbery and threatening to bomb. Mr. Kalita, a suspect in several area robberies, is being held in the county detention center without bond.
Capt. Badura said catching a bank robber at the scene is rare, much less two within days. "There's certainly a lot more bank robberies than apprehensions," he said.

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