"All I wanted to do," said Detective Bill Warden, "was keep his mind off of pulling that triger."
For three hours yesterday Warden and Officer Thomas J. Harley talked on the telephone to Robert L. Robinson trying to distract him while Robiinson sat in his estranged wife's apartment at 625 Audrey La., Oxon Hill, with a loaded shotgun and his three children, police said.
"You never know what's going through a guy's mind in a situation like that," Warden said. "I just wanted the kids or the gun out of there."
Warden got his wish about 2 p.m.-61/2 hours after Robinson arrived at his wife's apartment with the shotgun, according to police Robinson surrendered to police after Warden and Harley convinced him that the only way he was going to see his wife was to come out without the gun, Warden said.
Police said Robinson's surrender ended an ordeal that began when Jean Robinson opended her spartment door at 7:30 a.m. and found her husband from whom she separated five months ago, standing there with a shotgun pointed at her.
"Mrs. Robinson said that her husband had asked to move back in before and she had said no," Warden said. "This morning he just grabbed her and pushed her back into the apartment."
Warden said Jean Robinson tried to mollify her husband-who works for the U.S. Government Printing Office-and finally got him to relax enough by about 10:50 a.m. that she was able to slip out the door, run to a neighbor's and call police.
Left inside were the Robinson's 10-year-old twins John Lewis and John Lee and their 7-year-old John Leroy.
Harley was the first to arrive. After talking with Mrs. Robinson he went upstairs and knocked on the door of apartment 308. It was answered, he said, by one of the children. Standing behind the child, according to Harley, was Robinson with the shotgun pointed at the officer. Harley said he "retreated quickly."
When Warden arrived he and Harley went to a downstairs apartment and called Robinson. That started three hours of cajoling, pleading and persuading, Warden said.
"We talked about everything under the sun," Warden said. "We talked about his job, we talked about his wife and his kids, we talked about the weather. Anything to keep him talking."
Periodically, Warden said, Robinson would ask to talk to his wife on the phone. Each time he was turned down and told the only way for him to talk to her was to come out unarmed.
"We got to him slowly," Warden said. "I just kept telling him that none of this was worth dying for or hurting his children for. I guess he finally decided we were right."
And so the boys were sent to a neighbor, Robinson talked to his wife and then was taken to the Oxon Hill police station where he was charged with assault, false imprisonment, breaking and entering felony and assault on a police officer.
"We were lucky," Warden said. "It's nice to have one that turns out all right once in a while. It's a good feeling.