Bank Robbery Suspect Shot, Killed by Police

By Tom Jackman and Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 11, 2008; 10:13 AM

One after another, people began calling police yesterday, telling them a suspicious man was running through their neighborhoods in McLean and Arlington County. Their 911 calls led three Fairfax County police officers to a man suspected of robbing a bank minutes earlier, and when he disobeyed their commands to drop his gun, the officers shot and killed him, police said.

This morning, Arlington police identified the dead man as Hailu Brook, 19, of McLean.

The suspect had started running when his getaway car skidded off wet pavement in McLean, police said. He crossed into Arlington and was shot behind Williamsburg Middle School, they said.

"It was a good collaborative effort by everybody," said Fairfax Police Chief David M. Rohrer, who arrived at the scene after the shooting. He lauded residents who kept police informed about the suspect's whereabouts and cited "great work by the officers in locating the suspect."

Because the fatal shooting occurred outside Fairfax, Arlington police will investigate and present their findings to Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Richard E. Trodden, who will decide whether the shooting was justified. Fairfax police will do an internal investigation. The Fairfax officers, who had not been identified, were placed on routine administrative leave with pay.

Police said the man walked into the BB&T Bank branch at 6620 Old Dominion Dr. in McLean, in the Chesterbrook Shopping Center, about 11:20 a.m. He brandished a gun and demanded cash. After getting some money, he left the bank, climbed in a car and drove down Old Dominion Drive toward Arlington, Fairfax Officer Don Gotthardt said.

But before he could reach Arlington, the man's gold Honda sedan skidded off the wet road and into a ditch at Valley Wood Road, Gotthardt said. The man then ran away, first through the Franklin Park neighborhood in McLean and then into the Rock Spring neighborhood in Arlington. Police declined to say whether money or evidence from the robbery was recovered from the car.

Residents began calling 911 to notify police of the man's whereabouts, Gotthardt said. Shortly after 11:30 a.m., several Fairfax officers spotted him in the 5300 block of North 36th Street, about 300 yards from the back of Williamsburg Middle School.

The officers -- with three, nine and 22 years' experience, Gotthardt said -- saw the man holding a weapon. Gotthardt said he could not verify whether he pointed it at the officers.

But the man "disregarded commands, and that's when the officers fired," Gotthardt said. The man, shot in the upper body, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said they did not know how many times he had been shot or whether any shots reached the school.

The school was locked down for about an hour after police considered using its athletic fields as a landing spot for a helicopter to fly the suspect to a hospital. But the man died before a helicopter could reach the area, and the school went back to its normal schedule.

Gotthardt said the officers' proximity to the school was "an obvious concern" before they opened fire. "I don't know the officers' mind-set, but the area behind the target is always considered," he said. There is no official policy on withholding fire in a school area, he said.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company