Four suspected bank robbers led area police on a wild, car-smashing chase from Arlington to the District yesterday, trading gunshots with a pursuing patrol car before jumping a curb and running down a passerby.
The tree-mile chase ended when the suspects' car rammed two parked cars at the intersection of 19th and E streets NW as police in a helicopter and prowl cars from Arlington, the District and the U.S. Park Police converged with sirens screaming and guns drawn.
One of the suspects was captured as he attempted to run into the Office of Personnel Mangement building. The three others were arrested in the car while dozens of lunch-bound office workers gawked from the street and office windows.
The pedestrian was rushed in the police helicopter to the Washington Hospital Center where he was listed in critical condition late yesterday. Police said one of his legs was severed when the careening car pinned the man against a pole before ricocheting into the two parked cars.
The incident began shortly after 11:30 a.m. when two men walked into the Washington-Lee Savings and Loan at 250 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington.
The men, who did not display any guns during the holdup, told bank employees and customers that they wanted "cooperation" and then took an undetermined amount of money from the tellers' bank drawers.
An alarm was triggered, alerting police to the robbery, and a lookout was issue for a green Dodge Dart or Polaris.
About that time, Arlington police officer Michael Kyle spotted a vehicle fitting that description in the eastbound lane of Rte. 50, heading toward the District.
Kyle followed the car to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, where the car stopped. As Kyle approached, the driver of the car speed off across the bridge.
Kyle began the chase, radioing for help from the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police and the U.S. Park Police.
As they raced across the bridge and through the E Street tunnel, four to six gunshots were fired at Kyle from the suspects' car.
When the speeding car reached the 19th Street intersection with E Street, just blocks from the White House, it ran a red light and collided with another car traveling south.
The impact spun the suspects' car out of control and into Alvin Briscoe, a National Science Foundation employee waiting to cross the street, pinning him briefly against a street light pole.
Still spinning, the suspects' car rammed two parked cars and then came to a halt. One man then leaped from the car and ran into the nearby Office of Personnel Management, but a policeman and two passerby captured him.
Federal workers from the nearby office buildings gathered at the scene as a Park Police helicopter landed on the street to transport Briscoe to the Washington Hospital Center.
Briscoe, 47, of 8201 16th St., Silver Spring, was on his way to have lunch when the accident occurred, fellow employees said.
A hospital spokesman said Briscoe's left leg was severed and his right leg was fractured.
"Everybody was out there," said a federal employee, who works in a nearby building. "I've never seen so many policemen in my life. It's a good thing it wasn't ten minutes later because more office workers would have been on the street."
Police arrested Lynettus Brooks Jr., 30, 0f 1027 13th St NW.; Orlando M. Terry Washington, 25, of 2327 14th St. NW, and Gloria Johnson, 25, of 652 Franklin St. NE. All were arrested by D.C. police on fugitive charges.
Dorantes and Washington were taken to George Washington University Hospital, where they were treated for injuries and transported to D.C. General Hospital
An Arlington police spokesman said that warrants have been issued charging the four with yesterday's robbery as well as with two holdups of the Potomac Savings and Loan in Arlington that occurred on Tuesday and on Aug. 22.
The four suspects ere scheduled to be arraigned in D.C. Superior Court today.