Two Waldorf, Md., men have been charged in connection with a jewelry store heist over the weekend that involved a gun battle with police at a busy Fairfax County shopping center, left a bystander wounded and led to a massive manhunt.
Fairfax County police announced Tuesday that 24-year-old William Timothy Franklin IV was arrested in Waldorf and that 26-year-old Jasminder Sethi was captured at Newark International Airport, where he may have been trying to escape on a flight. Authorities will seek to extradite both men to Fairfax County.
Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said detectives were exploring whether the pair had help escaping the Fairfax County police, who used patrol units, a helicopter and dogs to hunt for the men.
“We had two violent, evil felons at large through multiple communities on the East Coast,” Roessler said.
Police were trying to piece together the roles Franklin and Sethi allegedly played in the robbery and escape.
The incident began shortly after 12:20 p.m. Saturday, when police were called to the Dubai jewelry store in the Brookfield Plaza shopping center in Springfield for an “unknown situation.”
An officer who took up a position outside the store saw a man leave with a handgun. Roessler said the officer “immediately challenged” the man, and the man opened fire on the officer. The officer returned fire.
The gun battle was so intense that a merchant nearby described the sound as similar to rain on a tin roof. Roessler said Tuesday that police were still investigating how many shots were fired.
One of the rounds struck a driver in the leg as the driver passed by the scene. Roessler said it appeared the bullet came from the robber’s gun, but it was still under investigation. Roessler said the victim was “doing well.”
One or both robbers then drove away in a getaway car, which crashed nearby on Spring Village Drive. Police said one or both of the men carjacked another vehicle and drove away, before crashing in the 7600 block of Hooes Road and fleeing on foot. No motorists were injured in the crashes or carjacking.
Citing the ongoing investigation, Roessler declined to elaborate on what evidence led police to the suspects, who were arrested after 9 p.m. Monday. Roessler said Sethi was arrested at the Newark airport because police had issued a warrant for him.
“Someone obviously assisted their getaway,” Roessler said.
Franklin was charged with robbery and use of a firearm in commission of a felony, and Sethi was charged with robbery. It was unclear whether Franklin or Sethi had retained lawyers. Calls to Franklin’s family were not returned, and a relative of Sethi declined to comment.
Franklin had numerous previous arrests in Maryland in connection with attempted theft, theft and assault, according to court records.