An elderly man was abducted by a gunman at an Alexandria savings and loan Monday and held hostage during a wild collision-course auto chase by police who were staking out the area.
Three police cruisers and one private automobile collided at various intersections before the suspect's car ran off Braddock Road down an embankment and into some woods near the intersection of Van Dorn Street, not far from Shirley Highway.
The hostage, John E. Bradshaw, 73, of Alexandria, was listed in stable condition in the cardiac-care unit of Alexandria Hospital with 26 stitches in his head and mouth, his wife said yesterday.
The gunman, tentatively identified as Elijah Hair, believed to have been a District of Columbia resident whose age was unknown, was shot in the leg and is under arrest for abduction, police said. He was reported in good condition.
The incident began shortly before noon at the First Federal Savings and Loan Association in the Bradlee shopping center. Bank employes said a tall man, wearing a brown suit and carrying a briefcase, entered the S&L and stood briefly in line. He had sat down in a nearby chair, said bank manager Helen Crosby, when he suddenly drew a gun and grabbed Bradshaw by the arm and then around the neck.
Bradshaw's wife, Alicia, was parked outside the bank waiting for her husband. "I saw a lot of plainclothes policemen with walkie-talkies running back and forth in the parking lot, before my husband came out," she said. Alexandria police officers assigned to a special tactical unit had staked out the shopping center in response to a number of thefts in the area, police said yesterday.
The gunman forced Bradshaw outside and into a white automobile, said workers who saw the incident. "As he was driving away he had the gun out the window," said jewelry store manager Kenneth Shaulis. "We heard one shot fired. They were yelling at us to get down, get down."
At least three police cars and one police van chased the car down Braddock Road. Police said that at one intersection, the suspect's auto hit a police cruiser blocking the intersection. At another, two police cruisers going in the other direction tried to make a U-turn and collided. Near the intersection of Braddock and Van Dorn, the suspect avoided another police road block and hit another car, after which his own car ran off the road, police said. There were no injuries reported in those collisions.
Alexandria police had not determined the ownership of the car the suspect was driving or whether his leg wound was self-inflicted, police spokeswoman Kathy Salvas said.
Bradshaw blacked out when the car left the road, his wife said. "His clothes, his raincoat, was just saturated with blood," she said yesterday. "I had to carry them home and I thought, 'How awful, it's like he's dead and I'm carrying home his clothes.' It was terribly scary. He's just a mess. But it could have been worse."