- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2005

Authorities are searching for the suspect in a Reston bank robbery yesterday that initially was feared to be a hostage situation.

Just before 10 a.m., a man entered the lobby of Mercantile Potomac Bank, a small branch on Democracy Drive.

The suspect displayed a handgun to the teller, demanding money, authorities said.

The teller gave the man cash before fleeing to a back room with the bank manager.

“Once the two were in the back, they contacted authorities from a cell phone,” said police spokesman Officer Bud Walker.

The suspect had already fled, but because the two employees were the only ones in the bank at the time, authorities were not sure if the suspect had barricaded himself inside.

“Once they gave him the money, they got out of there,” Officer Walker said. “They didn’t wait around to see if the [suspect] was still there.”

Just after 11 a.m., police said everyone was removed from the bank, but the suspect was still at large.

No one was injured, Officer Walker said.

The suspect is described as a black male, 6 feet 2 inches tall with a large build. He was wearing a white long-sleeved turtleneck shirt, a black ski mask and sunglasses.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Solvers at 866/411-8477 or Fairfax County Police at 703/691-2131.

Earlier this month, a Chesapeake police officer was slain in a shootout with a bank robbery suspect who had taken a hostage.

Officer Michael Kevin Saffron, 45, and the robbery suspect, Larry D. Blount, 43, were both killed Oct. 8 in an exchange of gunfire shortly after an alarm was triggered at the Bank of Hampton Roads.

Police said the suspect sped away with a hostage in a car belonging to a bank teller, then crashed.

The suspect emerged from the car with a hostage and began shooting.

Police officers returned fire and killed Mr. Blount. The hostage was shot in the leg.

Officer Saffron died at a hospital a short time later.

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