A man holding four hostages in a bank vault near Manassas was shot by a Prince William County police officer yesterday afternoon when he threatened to blow up the bank with what he said was a bomb in a paper bag.
Police said the man, identified as John Foltz, 47, and believed to be from Arlington, was shot once in the abdomen about 2:15 p.m. as he manhandled the manager of a First Virginia Bank branch and shouted threats at police.
None of the hostages -- all bank employes -- was injured. Foltz, charged by police with abduction, was described by officers as in satisfactory condition at Prince William Hospital in Manassas.
Virginia State Police said they found no bomb in the bag but discovered a change of clothing, a Bible, toothpaste, two sticks of deodorant and what appeared to be a windshield card indentifying a handicapped driver.
The midafternoon hostage drama, which lasted about 30 minutes, began when a man walked into the bank at 7900 Sudley Rd., a mile south of I-66, and announced that he had a bomb.
Police said they arrived within minutes and evacuated the rest of the nine-story building.
When the first officer entered the bank, the man, clutching the paper bag, was inside the vault along with the hostages, who included the bank branch manager, Lee Gorman, according to police.
They said the man had collected a large amount of money and was in clear view because the heavy vault door was open.
A steel barred door was all that separated him from the officers.
Police Capt. Nelson Ryan attempted to negotiate with the man for about 30 minutes, according to an officer who witnessed the scene. Police said the man's mood fluctuated throughout the talks, that he frequently became enraged and that he swore repeatedly at them.
At one point the man set a deadline to blow up the bank, the officers said.
"He wouldn't listen to reason," said one officer who was in the bank during the negotiations. "Several times he calmed down and then started right back up. At the end, it just escalated."
At about 2:15 p.m. the man grabbed Gorman from behind by his necktie, police said. As Gorman tried to cling to the barred door, he was jerked back and forth by the man, who appeared to be trying to wrestle him to the back of the vault.
When the two men separated briefly, police said, an officer fired a single shot and Foltz fell to the floor, wounded.
Gorman then unlocked the vault, admitting police.
The officer who witnessed the scene said the man who fired the shot was Capt. Joseph K. Sullivan, head of the county police Criminal Investigations Division, who was standing about six feet from Foltz. A police spokesman would not confirm that report.
A state police bomb squad took Foltz's paper bag to a specially equipped truck, where it was placed in a reinforced drum and imploded. No bomb was found.
When police opened the drum to recover the contents, wads of money from the bag went flying into a powerful afternoon wind, setting off a scramble among bystanders in the parking lot.
"I dreamed about this once," one man yelled as he pursued a clump of airborne bills. "But it wasn't in Manassas. I think it was heaven."
It could not be determined whether all the money was recovered.
County police said they had received a tip from Manassas police earlier in the afternoon that a man matching Foltz's description was overheard in a shopping mall saying he wanted to rob a bank.
Police said they alerted and checked several area banks, including First Virginia, shortly after 1 p.m.
Bank employes were instructed by managers not to speak with reporters.
Nevertheless, one teller who was not a hostage said she "got real nervous" at the "shocking" events. Another employe fainted during the incident but did not require hospitalization.