- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

A nine-hour standoff yesterday between FBI agents and a wanted man in Morningside ended with the man’s death, authorities said.

FBI agents went to an apartment complex in the 4400 block of Rena Road at about 6 a.m. to serve a warrant on Michael Terry Smith, 42, for threatening U.S. Capitol Police officers.

When agents got to the Forest Village Apartments, Mr. Smith opened fire on them, FBI officials said. Agents returned fire, and Mr. Smith tried to escape through the back of the building. He was met by more agents and retreated to his second-floor apartment, barricading himself inside.

The standoff drew dozens of agents and police officers, some outfitted in body armor. Police blocked off Forestville Road between Allentown Road and Suitland Parkway for much of the day, and schools officials locked down nearby Benjamin D. Foulois Elementary School.

Richard Wolf, a special agent with the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, said authorities were communicating with Mr. Smith during the standoff.

But at about 3:15 p.m., a sharpshooter fired several canisters of tear gas into Mr. Smith’s apartment through a window, and a tactical response team rushed the apartment, exchanging gunfire with Mr. Smith.

Investigators said soon after that Mr. Smith had been killed during the exchange, but they did not know whether he committed suicide or was shot by agents. No agents were hurt in the shootout.

William D. Chase, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore office, said law-enforcement agents stormed the apartment because they concluded that Mr. Smith was not going to surrender.

“At some point, we decided that he was not going to come out of the residence,” Mr. Chase said. “He put on his best suit, he polished his shoes, we believe he took a shower. He was saying that all day that that was his intent, not to come out peacefully and that he wanted to die by law enforcement.”

Officials said Mr. Smith, a construction worker who recently lived in North Carolina, was thought to be responsible for a January bank robbery in Old Town Alexandria.

Alexandria police said a “well-dressed” man robbed the Virginia Commerce Bank at 506 King St. at about 9 a.m. Jan. 26. The man, whose image was captured on bank surveillance cameras, wore a grey fedora, a shirt and tie, a long dress coat and dress shoes and carried a handgun.

FBI agents remained on the scene of the standoff well into last night. Authorities cordoned off a large section of the apartment complex and would not allow residents into the community while the incident was unfolding. Some residents were evacuated, authorities said.

Barbara Coney, who lives in a nearby apartment with her husband and 7-year-old son, said she was stunned to see the blockade as she arrived home from her shift at Southern Maryland Hospital Center shortly before 2 p.m.

She said she called her husband on the phone to find out what was going on.

“They were told to stay inside,” she said.

Mrs. Coney was not permitted to return to her apartment.

“I’m hungry, I’m frustrated,” she said. “I want to go home.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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