Gunfight Erupts Outside Bank

Officers examine a parking lot where an armored-car guard was lightly wounded while trading bullets with would-be robbers on Bel Pre Road in Aspen Hill.
Officers examine a parking lot where an armored-car guard was lightly wounded while trading bullets with would-be robbers on Bel Pre Road in Aspen Hill. (Photos By Sarah L. Voisin -- The Washington Post)

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By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 15, 2006

Dozens of bystanders dove for cover yesterday morning at an Aspen Hill strip mall as a band of robbers got into a shootout with two employees of an armored-truck company.

The robbers later carjacked a teenage girl as she was about to pump gas, and they remained at large last night.

One of the workers on the armored truck was shot but was not seriously wounded, police said. He was treated at a local hospital and released, they said. At least six vehicles at or passing by the Layhill Center were struck by bullets.

The Dunbar armored-truck employees arrived at the Bank of America branch at 2101 Bel Pre Rd. about 11 a.m., Montgomery County police said. One of the employees was walking toward the back of the truck to retrieve money when he saw two men approaching.

"One [robber] lifted up his coat," displaying a handgun, said Lt. Eric Burnett, Montgomery County police spokesman. "Numerous shots were fired."

Burnett said it was unclear who fired first.

The gun battle lasted several minutes, according to witnesses, with several accomplices of the gunmen joining in.

"We know one was hit," Burnett said, referring to the robbers. Police believe that four to six men tried to commit the robbery.

As the bullets started flying, the handful of patrons and employees at a nearby nail salon hit the ground.

"They ran for cover and then locked the door," said Sang Nail and Facial manager Kim Nguyen.

Two of the robbers then ran toward the Sunoco gas station next to the bank and approached a teenager who had just gotten out of her Volkswagen Jetta to get gas.

One of the men put a gun to her head and demanded the keys, said Orlando Fuentes, who was next to the girl, speaking with his brother on the phone when the shootout began.


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