A two-hour police pursuit, much of it at high speed, began after a hotel robbery in Prince William County, continued for 30 miles through Northern Virginia and ended last night just over the 14th Street bridge in the District of Columbia with the arrest of four men, police said.
At least six area police departments were involved in the chase. Police dogs and foot patrolmen joined in when the suspects abandoned their disabled auto and ran off. The chase resumed by car after police spotted a taxicab believed stolen by the suspects in Alexandria.
According to police, the chase started about 7:40 p.m. after an armed robbery was reported at the Econo-Lodge motel in suburban Dumfries. A witness to the robbery, in which police said at least three armed men emptied the motel's cash register and stole valuables from the manager and two clerks, furnished a description of the car they drove off in.
Prince William County police posted a lookout for the car and a county officer spotted a car matching its description in Fairfax County, near state Rte. 123 and I-95, and began to pursue it.
Other Northern Virginia police jurisdictions, including Alexandria and Fairfax and Arlington counties, were alerted to the chase as the car headed north on I-95.
Police followed the car through Fairfax, but lost sight of it near the Seminary Road exit in Alexandria.
D.C. and U.S. Park Police, anticipating that the car would continue on I-95 across the 14th Street bridge into Washington, stationed several police vehicles on the bridge to wait for it.
Alexandria police, who had been alerted to watch for the car, located an auto matching the broadcast description in the parking lot of the Fort Ward Towers apartments near the King Street exit. The car, which had blown a radiator hose and overheated, had been abandoned. Alexandria police called in dogs to search the area for the men.
About 30 minutes later, Alexandria authorities received a report of a stolen taxicab within a block of the apartment building. The driver, police said, had been robbed and left on the street.
A Prince William officer, Steve Hayhurst, riding with an Alexandria officer, spotted the taxicab and they followed it over the 14th Street bridge into the city where D.C. authorities were waiting. Police converged on the cab, bringing it to a halt near the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Arrested were Walter Dennis Watkins, 24, of the 5100 block of Cumberland Street, Capitol Heights; Douglas L. James, 23, of the 900 block of Clovis Avenue, Capitol Heights; Fred Cromartie, 26, of the 5600 block of Walker Mill Road, Capitol Heights, and John L. Williams, 22, of the 1300 block of 13th Street NE.
Police said the four men were armed with a shotgun and a handgun and are also suspects in a robbery earlier last night of an Econo-Lodge in Springfield.
All four men were being held in the District last night as fugitives.