Teller Held Hostage in Va. Bank Robbery

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By Theresa Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Manassas teller was bound and held hostage for about three hours yesterday in an early-morning bank robbery that ended with one masked man surrendering to Prince William County police and at least two other people at large.

Within minutes of the Patriot Bank's opening at 7 a.m., police received a call about suspicious activity at the bank, at 8402 Sudley Rd. Officers found the teller of the drive-through window, a 48-year-old woman whom police are not identifying because the case is continuing, tied up. A man, who had a gun and was clad in black, was in the bank with her.

"We knew we had what appeared to be a hostage situation," Prince William Police Chief Charlie T. Deane said.

Over the next three hours, police rerouted traffic on busy Sudley Road (Route 234), asked eight schools to heighten security and called in additional law enforcement officers, including FBI agents, Prince William sheriff's deputies and Manassas police.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the man turned himself in just before 10 a.m.

"We had the bank surrounded, SWAT team in place and ordered him out," Deane said.

Marshall A. Morgan, 21, was arrested and charged with armed robbery, abduction, use of a firearm and conspiracy to commit a felony. He is being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 7.

Money was taken, but police declined to say how much, adding only that the other people were seen fleeing with bags. It was unclear to police whether they ran away or fled in a red Toyota that was found about a mile away from the bank. Sgt. Tim Neumann, Manassas police spokesman, said officers spotted the empty car on Willow Grove Trail after receiving a tip from a resident.

FBI officials said the robbery may be linked to others in the area. "There's always the potential for that," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Ron Chavarro said. In the Washington region, he said, it is not usual to have 100 or 200 bank robberies a year.

Police said the teller, examined at the scene, was not injured. "She is fine," said 1st Sgt. Kim Chinn, a spokeswoman for Prince William police.

Authorities did not know how the suspects entered the bank because the lobby was closed. They asked that anyone with information about the incident call 866-411-TIPS.

By 11 a.m., traffic was flowing again, and the schools -- Stonewall Middle; Stonewall Jackson High; New Directions Alternative Education Center; and Ellis, West Gate, Mullen, Sinclair and Loch Lomond elementaries -- were opened. The bank remained closed.

A marquee outside the bank read, "Ft. Lobby Position Available. Apply w/in."

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