A would-be bank robber, an exploding money bag and a dash of red paint yesterday afternoon transformed the enclosed mall at the Tysons Corner into a chase scene.
Police said that about 1:45 p.m. a man walked into the First Virginia Bank in the mall, told the bank manager he had a bomb in his attache case and asked for large bills.
The robber got about 100 yards outside the bank, police said, when the money bag the bank had turned over to him burst open, spraying him with red dye and shooting tear gas out into the mall.
Police said the man let go of the money bag, which had become too hot to handle because of the gases inside, and took off running. Two bystanders who had followed him out of the bank took up pursuit, joined by another citizen in the mall and by Fairfax County policeman Thomas J. Saltow, who was responding to the bank's alarm.
The chase went through the mall and into a parking lot near Rte. 123, where Saltow arrested the suspect. Police identified him as John Collins, of Aldie, Va.
Smoke and tear-gas fumes forced 15 stores in the mall to close temporary, shopping center officials said.
Police said the tear gas and red paint cannister, which had been stuffed in the money bag along with the money, went off prematurely. Normally, the cannister goes off in the getaway car, police said.