At 9:45 yesterday morning, Susan Wadwha, a teller at the McLachlen National Bank at 11th and G Streets NW, was handed a note which said, "Bank Robbery."
While the man who gave it to her stood at her window, Wadwha showed the note, which was written on the back of a deposit slip, to Elayne Glass, another teller.
Glass reported it to William A. Bryarly, a bank official, and Bryarly hit an alarm that goes off at police headquarters. Then he ran out of the bank to find a policeman.
The two tellers remained behind a bullet-proof glass partition in the bank, according to members of the bank squad of the D.C. police department.
But the man who had handed the note to Wadwha apparently became suspicious because of all the activity and fled, police said.
Right outside the door, he met Bryarly and Officer J. J. Wade, who had been on foot patrol around the corner. Wade tackled the man, but the suspect was able to get up, pull a revolver and point it at the policeman.
Investigators said Wade then drew his own pistol, fired at the man and missed. The suspect then surrendered.
So ended the first attempt in 1977 to rob a bank in the District of Columbia.
Later, a man identified by police as Charles Lloyd, 23, of 1629 Marion St. NW, was charged with attempted bank robbery. He was being held last night pending arraignment today in D.C. Superior Court.
According to police department figures, bank robberies have been on the decline in the District in the past two years.
In 1974, there was a record 115 holdups of financial institutions in the city, and 113 of these were closed with arrests. In 1975, there were 113 robberies and 108 arrests. Last year, robberies dropped to 82. There were 63 arrests.
Det. Sgt. James King, the head of the bank squad, said the decline in holdups is due to cooperative efforts by banks and the police department to prevent such crimes. King said these efforts include instruction of bank personnel by police officers in what to do should a holdup occur.
The sergeant, who has specialized in holdups for more than 10 years, also said banks are putting up physical barriers, such as bullet-proof glass, to deter would-be robbers.
He said some banks use a device that can be slipped between bills handed to a robber. About five minutes after it has been activated, the device explodes, covering the robber and the money with ink.