Police ended a standoff with two would-be holdup men at an Alexandria pawnshop last night after hostages were taken and released and one of the suspects tried to escape by posing as a hostage, authorities said. The second suspect shot himself to death, police said.

Police said they were alerted by a flurry of 911 calls shortly before 6:30 p.m. and responded to the Cash Store Pawn Shop at 4622 King St. in a strip mall in Alexandria's West End.

As officers arrived, someone tried to leave the shop by a rear door but turned back, according to police Lt. John D. Crawford, who said, "We believe that we foiled a robbery that was in progress."

The initial report was that eight hostages -- four women and four men, employees and customers -- were being held inside the shop as police surrounded it and negotiators were summoned. Traffic on busy King Street was blocked.

Two women and two men were released about 7:35, Crawford said. After continued negotiation with a hostage-taker by phone, a second group of two women and two men was released an hour later, he said.

At that point, police said, a single armed man remained inside the shop. Phone communication with that man ended about 8:45, Crawford said.

Members of the police special operations team entered the building about 9:25. They found a man dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Crawford said.

Meanwhile, those who had been released were taken to Alexandria police headquarters, on Mill Road near Eisenhower Avenue, a step that Crawford said is standard procedure, because "we treat everybody as a possible suspect until we can ascertain that they are a hostage."

As those who had been released first were being questioned separately, Crawford said, one of them -- a man -- ran from headquarters and was apprehended less than a quarter-mile away near a Holiday Inn after a foot chase. That man was taken into custody and was being questioned late last night. Neither he nor the dead man was identified immediately. CAPTION: The police special operations team enters a King Street pawnshop, where a man was found dead, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Another suspect was captured after he posed as a hostage.