By Matthew Cella
The Washington Times
A Fairfax County police officer yesterday fatally shot a man who fled into an apartment building when police approached him during a bank robbery investigation.
Police said the man matched the description of a robber who held up a Wachovia Bank branch in the 7700 block of Richmond Highway in Alexandria.
About 9:45 a.m. yesterday, a man entered the bank and gave the teller a note demanding money, police said. The teller gave the man an undisclosed amount of money and the man left.
Minutes later, an officer saw a man who matched the description of the robber in the 7500 block of Richmond Highway. The officer tried to stop him, but he fled.
A second officer saw the man run into the Mount Vernon Garden apartment building in the 7400 block of Fordson Road, about a half mile from the bank.
The officers went inside and found the man hiding in a crawl space.
Officials said the man refused the officers' commands and "made several furtive gestures." One of the officers then shot the man in the upper body.
He was taken to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital and pronounced dead. Police have not identified him.
Police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings said that investigators were still processing the scene yesterday afternoon.
She could not say whether police had determined if the shooting victim and the bank robber were the same person, nor could she elaborate on the nature of the "furtive gestures" that prompted the officer to fire.
"That's under investigation," Miss Jennings said.
She also could not say how many times the man was shot or whether he was armed.
Police did not identify the officer but said that he is 50 years old and has been with the police department for 27 years.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Police also are weighing the possibility that the man who robbed the bank yesterday was involved in other bank robberies, Miss Jennings said.
"We're definitely looking at that possibility," she said. "It's very possible this guy may be linked."
Miss Jennings would not say which crimes police are investigating.
On Dec. 6, a man robbed a Wachovia Bank branch in the 6300 block of Richmond Highway, about two miles from the scene of yesterday's robbery.
That robbery also occurred about 9:45 a.m. and involved a man giving a teller a note demanding money, investigators said.
Police said they think that bank robber also held up a Bank of America branch in the 6300 block of Richmond Highway about noon Dec. 1.
The robber did not display a weapon in either heist.
About an hour and a half after yesterday's bank robbery, Fairfax County police said, a man robbed a BB&T Bank branch in the 1600 block of Belle View Boulevard.
The robber pulled a handgun, ordered the employees from behind the teller counter and took an undisclosed amount of cash, police said. The gunman was last seen running north from the Belle View shopping center.
Police said they think the same man may be responsible for a Nov. 7 robbery at a BB&T Bank branch in the 6600 block of Richmond Highway in the Beacon Hill area.
In Montgomery County, police said that three banks were robbed within 30 minutes of one another and that they think two of the robberies are related.
Montgomery County Police spokesman Lt. Eric Burnett said the first robbery occurred about 9:52 a.m. at the United Bank branch in the 16200 block of Frederick Avenue in Rockville.
Police described the robber as a black man, 45 to 55 years old, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, with a light-to-medium complexion. The man had a salt-and-pepper beard and was wearing a brown full-length leather coat, blue jeans and a black beret, and he had a patch over his left eye.
Police said the man approached a teller and passed a note announcing the robbery. He did not display a weapon.
Police said they think the same man struck again 20 minutes later about two miles away at the Sandy Spring Bank in the 400 block of North Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg.
Montgomery County police said a man robbed a Bank of America branch in the 12000 block of Rockville Pike at 10:22 a.m. That robbery was not believed to be connected to the others.
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Va. officer fatally shoots bank holdup suspect