Police, including officers from helicopter and canine units, flushed out four suspects from a wooded area near the Germantown campus of Montgomery College yesterday, charging them with the $2,000 holdup of a Gaithersburg Safeway earlier in the day.
Arrests of the four Washington area men followed a two-hour search by 30 officers after the early morning robbery of the Safeway on Lost Knife Circle. Montgomery County police said they recovered $2,000 in cash and jewelry belonging to a store clerk from one of the suspects.
All four were charged with armed robbery and auto theft in connection with a getaway car police say the men used in the holdup.
The 8 a.m. robbery occurred while four customers and six employes were in the store. Manager Douglas Shuff, 31, said customers were unaware of the robbery and that he looked on silently as a clerk complied with the robbers in opening a combination safe in the store office.
Clerk Linda Slack, 24, said one of the robbers also "told me to put my two diamond engagement rings in the bag. He hit me on the back of the head with a gun. I guess I wasn't moving fast enough for him."
After the holdup, Shuff said, he and another employe followed the men and glimpsed their car and license tags while Slack telephoned police.
The car, a red Toyota that had been reported stolen at gunpoint Monday night at University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue in Langley Park, was spotted heading north on Rte. 355 at Rte. 118, and later found abandoned on Observation Drive off Rte. 355 in Germantown, police said.
A Maryland State Police helicopter was summoned and police sealed off a large area around the Germantown campus of Montgomery College.
During the next two hours, police said, they flushed the four suspects from various wooded spots. No shots were fired, and there were no injuries. Police said all four suspects were believed to have been armed, but no weapons were recovered in the incident.
Charged in the incident were three Northeast Washington men, Darren Joseph Tate, 18, of 1339 I St.; William Alexander Johnson, 19, of 1358 C St.; Thomas Leo Lay, 18, of 1363 C St.; and Gary Ronald Edwards, 19, of 8722 Cameron St., Silver Spring.