Two youths robbed two District of Columbia employes of nearly $10,000 in jewelry and cash Tuesday evening, then forced the man and woman at gunpoint to take them on a shopping spree at a suburban Woodward & Lothrop store - financed by the victims' own credit cards.
The spree ended at Iverson Mall in Prince George's County when the woman, who had been grimacing and contorting her face in an effort to alert puzzled store salespersons to her plight sat on one robber's legs on the floor of the store after her fellow captive had knocked him down.
On suspect was arrested in the store while a second was apprehended early yesterday at his District home, Washington police said.
"I couldn't believe what was happening," said Patricia G. Haynes, who was recuperating at home yesterday after the one-hour ordeal the evening before. "This happened in broad daylight."
"You watch things like this on television and you never think it could happen to you," said Ernest L. Pifer, 41, the other victim. "I couldn't believe it at first."
The episode began about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday as Haynes and Pifer were about to enter Haynes' car on a par king lot at Third and I streets NW for the drive to their Northern Virginia homes.
"I heard my coworker say, "You got to be kidding, man!"" said Haynes, who said she had thrown her purse on the front seat of the car and was preparing to get in. "I didn't know what was going on. I turned around and I had my face into a gun."
Haynes, 43, said one youth, who was wielding a handgun, got into the front seat with her and the other yout, got into the back seat with Pifer.
"They told me to take my jewelry off. They took my purse and money from my coworkers," she said.
Haynes said she had with her at the time $505 in cash and $8,450 in jewelry, including a 14-carat gold pendant, with eight diamonds, a diamond ring and a gold watch, all of which were taken.
The youths also took $528 in cash and a watch from Pifer, who had just cashed his paycheck.
In addition the youths took their victims' credit cards, which included credit cards for Woodward & Lothrop, police said. All stolen items were later recovered.
Haynes said that while the youths were taking the valuables, she was told to drive to "a deserted school yard" about four to six blocks from the parking lot.
After being in the school yard for a few minutes, Haynes said she was told to take the youths to the Landover Shopping Mall in Maryland.
Haynes, who with Pifer works in the office of the city's Department of Licenses, Investigations and Inspections, said she drove in front of the Capitol, then via the South Capitol Street Bridge and Interstate 295 to the Beltway.
"When I got to the Branch Avenue turnoff, they said they wanted to go to Woodies," Haynes said. "I said, "There's a Woodies in Marlow Heights.""
She said one youth then directed her to drive to the Woodies at Iverson Mall, off Branch Avenue.
Haynes said the youths "had mentioned they were going to let us go when we got to the shopping center. But they didn't."
When they parked in the mall's parking lot, she said, the youth told Pifer that he would have to go with one of them into Woodies to buy some merchandise.
"They left me in the car with the man with the gun," Haynes said. "They told my coworker if he didn't do what they told him, they would kill me."
As he walked into the store with the youth, Pifer said, he tried to persuade him that his credit card wouldn't work. "I started saying to him that we were going to run into all sorts of problems. You're going to get caught."
Pifer said he suggested that the youth take Haynes into the store because "she's got good cards." He said he was doing this to try to get Haynes away from the armed youth in the car.
"Half way into the store," Pifer said, the youth agreed and they turned around and returned to the car.
Then, Haynes was taken into the store. Pifer was left in the car with the youth who had a gun. "They told me if I didn't do what they told me, he would be killed," Haynes said.
Haynes said she was escorted to the store's television department, where her captor first picked out a $479 color television set. "He decided I should buy that," she said.
Then, she said the youth "pointed to a $700 to $800 stereo component system and told the clerk, "She wants that.""
Haynes said the clerk asked for further identification, but because everything she had in her purse had been taken she didn't have any. Meanwhile, she said, "I tried to let the store clerk know through facial expresion what was going on."
The store clerk became suspicious and called the security officer. "That young lady was so nervous and scared, he (the salesman) knew something was wrong," said Lewis Shealy, director of security for Woodward & Lothrop.
Pifer said that while Haynes and the youth were in the store, he "made up my mind that I was going to jump out my side of the car."
He said he noticed that the youth guarding him would look away whenever a car pulled into the lot. He said the youth also "got intrigued" with the credit cards and items that had been strewn from the woman's purse onto the floor.
When the youth looked away from him, Pifer said, "I kicked the door open and jumped out."
Pifer said he ran toward the store door, where he met the second youth and Haynes. "I grabbed his crotch, picked him up and slammed him on the floor. Then I landed on his chest. She [Haynes] jumped on his legs. I didn't hit him. I was just so upset."
A store security guard arrived at that point and held the youth for county police. The youth who had been in the car fled, Pifer said.
Police said they charged a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old with armed robbery and kidnaping in the incident. The 16-year-old, identified as an escapee from the D.C. Children's Center at Laurel, was being held under $30,000 bond last night at the county detention center in Upper Marlboro.
The second suspect, Michael Bridges, 18, was arrested in the District a short time after the incident. He appeared in D.C. Superior Court yesterday and was released on third-party custody to the D.C. Bureau of Rehabilitation.
Haynes said it was not the first time she has been the victim of crime. She was among the hostages in the Hanafi takeover of the District Building in 1977. And in 1973, shortly after she began working for the District government, she was beaten up in a downtown store by a mental outpatient.
"I think a lot more has to be done to make the streets of Washington safe," Haynes said yesterday.