Three armed robbery suspects surrendered peacefully to Fairfax County police early yesterday after a four-hour standoff during which the suspects were barricaded in a Fairfax motel.
The tense scene began shortly before 3 a.m. when Fairfax police learned that suspects in the holdup of a pizza parlor at Baileys Crossroads were in the Hillwood Motor Court near Seven Corners. Police surrounded a room at the motel, evacuated occupants of nearby rooms and cordoned off the area, closing Leesburg Pike at U.S. Rte. 50 and blocking part of Sleepy Hollow Road.
Shortly after police took up positions around the motel, they said, a 17-year-old woman emerged from the room and said the suspects were of Cuban descent and spoke very little English. Police declined yesterday to identify the woman further or to elaborate on her role in the incident.
A Spanish-speaking officer was called to the motel to speak through a bullhorn as an interpreter, and shortly after 5:30 a.m., two suspects surrendered peacefully.
They were identified as Pablo M. Shanchez, 23, and Rolando Regalado, 20. Police said a third suspect remained inside until -- following another hour and one-half of negotiations -- two tear gas canisters were fired through windows of the room.
"In this case we had a suspect who was a suspect in an armed robbery -- had weapons, and he'd indicated he would use them," said Fairfax County police spokesman Warren Carmichael. "That was the reason for using the tear gas."
The third suspect, who also was taken into custody peacefully, was identified as Roberto Chavez, 18. Police said they recovered two guns from the room.
One motel occupant, Sherman Miller, said he was wakened by police at 3 a.m. "A couple of police officers were carrying shotguns, so I figured it was pretty serious," he said.
But Miller went back to sleep until being wakened again by tear gas and forced out of his room. "It didn't really dawn on me till I got outside," he said.
Police said the three men were suspects in the robbery of Joe's Place, a pizza parlor in Baileys Crossroads.
Police said two employes reported that at 2:45 a.m.. as they were closing up, three men, carrying a shotgun and a handgun, forced them back into the restaurant, where they took the night deposits, and their wallets and watches.
The three were charged with robbery, police said.