An Alexandria bank employe was held hostage for more than three hours yesterday by two apparently unarmed men who followed her into the bank after posing as early-morning street cleaners outside the bank's front door.
The 7:30 a.m. robbery attempt was foiled by an onlooker, William G. Hundle, who was collecting refuse from the Lindsay Cadillac showrooms across the street and called Alexandria police.
Police and FBI agents, brandishing rifles and shotguns, surrounded the Fairlington branch of the First American Bank of Virginia and negotiated by telephone with the woman's captors for about two hours before they freed her unharmed and surrendered.
The employe, assistant branch manager Marian Goold, who police said was bound with electrical cord during the siege, emerged with the two men shortly after 11 a.m. Goold, 59, in a pink pants suit and walking somewhat wobbily, was applauded by a crowd of onlookers kept behind barricades at the edge of Centre Plaza, a small shopping center off Quaker Lane, on the Alexandria-Arlington border.
Police and FBI agents arrested two Southeast Washington residents, Michael David Lancaster, 24, of 2308 Hartford St., and Edward Michael Minor, 21, of 2625 Jasper St., following the incident. The men later were charged with attempted bank robbery and assault at a hearing before Alexandria City Magistrate Lawrence Day. Bond was set at $75,000 each for Lancaster and Minor, both of whom were taken to Fairfax County Jail. Federal charges are expected to be placed at a hearing Monday, according to the FBI.
Alexandria police Det. Sgt. Al Levesque said no weapons were found in the bank, although one suspect had a penknife with him.
Goold still appeared shaky when she returned to her Alexandria home yesterday afternoon after being interviewed by police and FBI agents. Sitting on a wall in her yard, she told a reporter she had been asked by bank officials not to discuss what happened. "I'm just glad to be here at home," she said.
Hundle, a retired city refuse collector who now runs his own collection business, said he was sitting in a small glass customer-relations booth in front of Lindsay Cadillac when he saw Goold, whom he recognized, leave her car in the bank parking lot and walk to the front door. He said he saw the two men push their way into the bank behind her and then he called police.
In a brief press conference afterward, Alexandria Police Chief Charles Strobel said the suspects "had demanded a getaway car" from police and FBI negotiators, but "nothing was offered the suspects and none of their demands was met."
Bank officials, who declined to discuss the incident, said the branch had been held up a little more than a year ago. No one was injured and a suspect was captured in that incident, they said.