A man who terrorized businesses in Arlington, Alexandria and elsewhere from 2018 to 2019 is going to prison.
Freddy Lee McRae, 35, pled guilty to a series of bank and retail robberies last year. On Tuesday McRae, dubbed the “Beltway Bank Bandit,” was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison.
“This case involved a chilling armed robbery spree during which innocent community members were threatened with serious injury or death if they did not comply with repeated demands for money,” Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. “We are thankful to our law enforcement partners for their thorough investigation across multiple jurisdictions to bring the defendant to justice.”
As detailed in a press release, McRae’s crime spree included the attempted robbery of a Capital One branch on Columbia Pike, the armed robbery of Legend Kicks & Apparel on the Pike, and a subsequent police chase on the GW Parkway that ended with McRae crashing his car into the river and trying to swim to freedom.
On December 10, 2018, McRae robbed a Burke & Herbert bank branch located in Alexandria. McRae approached a teller, who asked if he wanted to make a deposit. McRae responded, “gimmie your money,” before lifting up his shirt and pulling a pistol from his waistband, which he pointed at the teller. As the teller gathered money, McRae racked the slide on the pistol and demanded all large bills. McRae fled with approximately $1,366 in cash.
On April 21, 2019, McRae robbed the Legend Kicks & Apparel store located in Arlington. McRae brandished a pistol and demanded that two store employees empty their pockets, which they did. McRae then ordered the employees to lie on the floor before taking approximately $2,160 in cash that belonged to the store. McRae fled the store on foot and the area by vehicle. When a law enforcement officer tried to pull over the vehicle, McRae stopped only briefly before leading law enforcement officers on a vehicle pursuit on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. McRae ultimately jumped out of his moving vehicle prior to it crashing and sinking into the Potomac River. McRae tried to flee law enforcement by jumping into the river, but officers pulled him out and placed him under arrest.
As part of his guilty plea, McRae also admitted to robbing a Bank of America branch in Springfield on October 27, 2018; a BB&T branch located in Alexandria on December 20, 2018; and a Capital One branch located in Bowie, Maryland, on January 2, 2019. McRae further admitted to attempting to rob a Capital One branch located in Arlington on February 11, 2019, and to obstructing justice following his apprehension.
“This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Northern Virginia Violent Crime Safe Streets Task Force, which is composed of FBI Special Agents and Task Force Officers from northern Virginia law enforcement agencies,” the press release noted. “Significant investigative assistance in this case was provided by the Arlington County Police and the Fairfax County Police.”
A man brandished a gun and stole cash during a robbery of a store in Pentagon City over the weekend.
The name of the store was not specified, but police say the robbery happened between 6-6:30 p.m. this past Saturday, on the 1100 block of S. Hayes Street — the same block as the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.
The suspects had purchased items from the store an hour prior to the incident, and were trying to return them when a dispute over the return turned into a robbery, according to police. No one was hurt and two suspects remained at large as of Monday.
More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ROBBERY, 2021-03200158, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 6:35 p.m. on March 20, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 5:07 p.m. the two suspects purchased items from a retail store and returned at approximately 6:00 p.m. to return the items previously purchased. A dispute ensued over the return during which Suspect One attempted unsuccessfully to reach over the counter and remove cash from the register. Suspect One then brandished a firearm and demanded cash from an employee. The suspects then fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash. Upon arrival, police canvased the area with negative results. No injuries were reported. Suspect One is described as a 25-30 year old Black male, light complexion, approximately 5’9″ and 200 lbs. He was wearing a black ski mask, gray hoodie and distressed blue jeans. Suspect Two is described as a 25-30 year old Black male, dark complexion, with short dreads. He was wearing a black jacket and glasses. The investigation is ongoing.
Distance Learning Only for APS — “Due to inclement weather… Level 1, in-person learning support, Level 2 Career & Technical Education students and staff supporting these programs will temporarily revert to distance learning.” [Arlington Public Schools]
County Government Open — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, & facilities are OPEN Friday, 02-19-2021. Courts will open at 10AM. All facilities will follow normal operating hours.” [Twitter]
Be Careful Out There — “Northern Virginia crews continue to clear and treat roads overnight, for both some additional wintry precipitation as well as refreeze from low temperatures. Drivers are asked to continue to limit travel if possible, or to use extreme caution and be aware of the potential for slick pavement, even where surfaces appear clear or were previously treated.” [VDOT]
Doses May Be Delayed — “Virginia is seeing delays in this week’s vaccine shipments due to severe winter weather in the Mid-Atlantic region and across the country. The Virginia Department of Health says the state will likely see a delay in the delivery of approximately 106,800 doses, due to distribution channels in the Midwest and elsewhere that are currently shut down.” [InsideNova]
Architectural Review of HQ2 Phase 2 — ” It very intentionally does not look like anything else in Pentagon City or Crystal City, or anywhere else in the region. The style, a populist, jazzy take on high-tech modernism, isn’t aimed at architecture critics, but at the public, which shows remarkable forbearance to the predations of large corporations so long as they have a reputation for being innovative and forward thinking.” [Washington Post]
County Board Members Endorse Candidate — “Alexandria City Council member Elizabeth Bennett-Parker has picked up the endorsement of two Arlington County Board members in her quest for the 45th District House of Delegates seat. Board members Libby Garvey and Katie Cristol endorsed the candidacy.” [InsideNova]
New Spanish Publication on the Pike — “As part of its increased business support efforts, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) has launched a new publication dedicated to supporting the area’s Hispanic business community. The publication, Boletín, is a small booklet of resources and information specific to those Spanish speaking businesses serving Columbia Pike’s residents.” [CPRO]
Arlington Man Arrested for Armed Robberies — “An Arlington man was arrested last night and is facing charges in connection with a series of recent armed robberies. Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau determined that in three of the four robberies, the suspect approached the victim, displayed a firearm and took their personal property. In the other case, the suspect took a victim’s purse by force.” [Fairfax County Police Department]
Two male suspects in a stolen car robbed a woman while threatening another who tried to photograph them, according to Arlington County police.
The incident happened Friday afternoon around 4:30 p.m., near the intersection of S. Eads Street and 15th Street S. in the Crystal City area, across from Amazon’s future HQ2.
Police say the first victim was leaving a business at 1425 S. Eads Street — an apartment building with a bank and other businesses on the ground floor — when the men approached her, brandished a gun, and demanded her belongings. During the robbery, a woman in the victim’s vehicle started making noise and photographing the suspects, leading one to point the gun at her before both fled the scene.
More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ARMED ROBBERY, 2021-02050197, 1425 S. Eads Street. At approximately 4:34 p.m. on February 5, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim had exited a business and was returning to her vehicle when the two male suspects approached her. Suspect One brandished a firearm, and demanded her personal belongings. A second victim was inside the vehicle, and upon hearing Victim One yelling, she attempted to make noise and photograph the suspects, however, Suspect One then pointed the firearm at her. Both suspects fled in a vehicle prior to police arrival. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect vehicle had previously been reported stolen earlier in the day. Suspect One is described as a Black male, wearing a black mask, black sweater with the hood on, and black pants. Suspect Two is described as a juvenile Black male, wearing a black mask, black sweater with the hood on, and black pants.
A man fired a gunshot while robbing a woman of her purse Saturday night in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood, near Pentagon City, according to Arlington County police.
Police say the man approached the woman after she parked her car on near the corner of S. Kent Street and 21st Street S. He demanded the purse and a struggle ensued, during which the suspect fired a single gunshot.
No one was struck and the suspect fled with the purse.
Anyone with information about the case or the suspect is asked to call the Arlington County Police Department. More from ACPD:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a non-contact shooting which occurred during an armed robbery in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood on the evening of January 23, 2021.
At approximately 7:25 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery in the 2000 block of S. Kent Street. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was exiting her parked vehicle when the male suspect approached. The suspect brandished a firearm, shoved the victim back towards the vehicle and demanded her purse. A brief struggle ensued during which the suspect fired a single shot. The victim was not injured. The suspect then fled the scene on foot with the victim’s purse. Responding officers established a perimeter and canvased the area with negative results.
The suspect is described as a Black male in his late 20s to early 30s, 6’0″ to 6’2″ tall with a thin build. He was wearing all black clothing, a black neck gaiter and a black skull cap at the time of the incident. An older model, dark colored 4 door sedan was seen leaving the area at a high rate of speed shortly after the incident.
Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
A man was robbed of his gun by an armed, masked man over the weekend in the Green Valley neighborhood, according to Arlington County police.
The alleged incident happened around 8:30 a.m. Saturday on the 2400 block of S. Lowell Street.
“The victim was waiting outside for a ride to a shooting range when he was approached from behind by the unknown suspect,” said today’s ACPD crime report. “The suspect then grabbed a case containing a firearm from the victim. When the victim turned around, he observed the suspect pointing a firearm at him. The suspect then fled on foot.”
“The suspect is described as a Black male, approximately 6’1″-6’2″, wearing blue jeans, a black hooded jacket, black ski mask, and black and red shoes,” the crime report continues. “The investigation is ongoing.”
The robbery was not reported to police until Monday afternoon, the crime report noted.
Local 911 Dispatchers Can Work Remotely — “On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center (ECC) became one of the first centers in the nation to implement capabilities that allow fire and emergency medical services (EMS) dispatchers and supervisors to deliver critical emergency communications services no matter where they are. Now, Arlington Fire-EMS dispatchers and supervisors are able work from a remote location, including from home.” [Arlington County]
Grocery Workers Unaware of Vaccine Availability — “Grocery store workers in Arlington can now sign up for Covid vaccine… But Arlington County is apparently not notifying grocery store workers about this option… At our local Arlington grocery store, a staff person in the management office indicated they were not aware of either option, when my wife and I called.” [Blue Virginia]
Apple Stores Temporarily Closing — Updated at 8:55 a.m. — “Apple is temporarily closing its Washington, D.C. retail stores ahead of the United States presidential inauguration. Five stores in the Washington metro area will close through at least January 21… Stores in Arlington, VA at Pentagon City and Clarendon, as well as in Maryland at Bethesda Row will close from Saturday.” [9to5Mac]
Beyer Wants Cameras for Federal Officers — “Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) announced today that they will reintroduce their Federal Police Camera and Accountability Act, which would require uniformed federal police officers, including U.S. Capitol Police, to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in police vehicles.” [Press Release]
Attempted Armed Robbery on Columbia Pike — “At approximately 8:18 p.m. on January 13, police were dispatched to the late report of an attempted armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 5:04 p.m., the suspect was inside a business when they approached the front of the store, threatened the victim with a knife and demanded they open the drawer to the cash register. The suspect then fled the business when the victim yelled and another employee ran to the front of the store.” [ACPD]
Water Main Repair on Carlin Springs Road — “Water main break… Tomorrow, Friday Jan. 15, from 7am to 5pm, the two center lanes on S Carlin Springs Rd from 1st St S to 3rd St S will be closed. A traffic detour will be in place.” [Twitter]
Pelosi Endorses McAuliffe — “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is endorsing Terry McAuliffe’s campaign in a very crowded Democratic primary that will winnow the field of those seeking to be the next governor of Virginia.” [Axios]
A couple was robbed in Arlington’s Ashton Heights neighborhood over the weekend by a gun-toting man in a distinctive white mask.
The robbery happened around 1 a.m., according to a police report and an account of the robbery by the victim, which was obtained by ARLnow after being posted on Nextdoor.
“Around 1 a.m. on Saturday morning, my boyfriend and I had just parked… when we were robbed at gunpoint,” the victim wrote. “The car pulled up quickly, blocking our car from moving, and he ran up to the driver side where I was, threw open the door, pointed the gun in my face and told me to stop screaming or he’d kill us.”
“He took everything we had an said ‘Y’all have a blessed day’ before driving off and taking a right down Irving toward Arlington Blvd,” the victim continued. “Through Find my iPhone we were able to track him into DC, into Maryland where he stopped for gas, and back into the city before my phone was erased. He has not been caught, but I have reported all this information to the police.”
The victim added that the man was wearing a “full white mask” similar to those worn by the Jabbawockeez, a well-known dance group. He was driving a Toyota RAV4 with what appeared to be temporary paper tags, she said.
More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ARMED ROBBERY, 2020-12050007, 3200 block of 1st Place N. At approximately 12:56 a.m. on December 5, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims were inside their parked vehicle when they observed the suspect vehicle pass them and stop in the middle of the street. The suspect exited his vehicle, approached the victims and forcefully opened the door to their vehicle. He displayed a firearm, threatened one of the victims and demanded items of value. The suspect stole personal belongings from both victims, then fled in his vehicle prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a Black male in his 20’s, average height, medium build, wearing a black sweatshirt with the hood up, and a white face mask. The suspect vehicle is described as a black or dark colored, newer model Toyota Rav4. The investigation is ongoing.
Also in today’s crime report, a driver in Pentagon City allegedly spat on a pedestrian he nearly ran over, before deliberately backing in to him. More from ACPD:
ATTEMPTED MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2020-12050091, 1000 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 1:46 p.m. on December 5, police were dispatched to the report of a hit and run just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was crossing the street in a crosswalk when the driver of the suspect vehicle turned and almost struck him. The suspect then turned his vehicle around, parked, and approached the victim. A verbal dispute ensued, during which the suspect spit on the victim. The suspect returned to his vehicle, and, as the victim attempted to take a photo, began to reverse towards him. The victim attempted to back away, however he was pushed by the vehicle into oncoming traffic. The suspect vehicle then fled prior to police arrival. The victim was not injured. The suspect is described as a young Black male, 20-25 years old, with a slim build, short hair, and approximately 5’7″. The vehicle is described as a white, four door sedan. The investigation is ongoing.
Additional weekend crime report items, including a series of car thefts, are below.
A gunshot was fired during a robbery in the residential Fairlington neighborhood last night, according to police.
The incident happened around 9:45 p.m. on the 2800 block of S. Buchanan Street, a couple of blocks from Abingdon Elementary.
A woman was robbed by two male suspects, one of whom was armed with a gun, during a “pre-arranged sale of narcotics,” Arlington County Police said in a press release Sunday afternoon. After the robbery, the armed suspect allegedly fired a single gunshot in the victim’s direction.
More from ACPD:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating an Armed Robbery and Attempted Malicious Wounding in the Fairlington neighborhood that took place on the evening of December 5, 2020.
At approximately 9:48 p.m., police were dispatched to the 2800 block of S. Buchanan Street for the report of an armed robbery. The investigation revealed the female victim and two unknown male suspects were meeting at the location for the pre-arranged sale of narcotics. Suspect One approached the victim and engaged her in conversation. Suspect Two then approached, knocked her to the ground, brandished a firearm and demanded cash before stealing her purse. The suspects fled the scene on foot and fired a single shot in the direction of the victim. She was not injured. A perimeter was established by responding officers and a canvas of the area returned with negative results.
Suspect One is described as a Black male in his late teens, wearing all black and a blue face mask. Suspect Two is described as a White/Hispanic male wearing all black, a black beanie hat and dark blue face mask.
This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information related to this incident and/or home surveillance that may assist the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Map via Google Maps
A felon driving a minivan with allegedly stolen plates was pulled over Saturday night along northbound I-395.
The traffic stop just before the 14th Street Bridge involved a small fleet of Arlington County Police and Virginia State Police cruisers and was caught on video. The highway was blocked while the incident played out.
Tonight's drama on I-395N in Arlington was a felony stop at Route 110/1 about an hour ago involving @ArlingtonVaPD & @VSPPIO. All lanes just cleared after the vehicle was towed. @ARLnowDOTcom @WTOPtraffic pic.twitter.com/ONQYBMkbCJ
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) November 29, 2020
In a crime report today, ACPD said the suspect had a concealed weapon in the vehicle and did not have a driver’s license. He is facing a number of charges.
WEAPONS VIOLATION, 2020-11280126, I-395 at Washington Boulevard. At approximately 8:45 p.m. on November 28, police received a License Plate Reader alert for a vehicle traveling with stolen license plates. Officers observed the vehicle and, with the assistance of Virginia State Police, conducted a traffic stop. During the course of the investigation, officers determined the driver was suspended and recovered a concealed weapon. Erich McDonald, 45, of No Fixed Address was arrested and charged with Felon in Possession of a Concealed Weapon, Receiving Stolen Goods and No Operator’s License. He was held on no bond.
Also in today’s crime report, another armed carjacking was reported. The crime happened on Thanksgiving afternoon in the Crystal City area.
CARJACKING, 2020-11260081, 2000 block of S. Fern Street. At approximately 1:51 p.m. on November 26, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim parked and exited her vehicle, then observed the male suspect walk past her. The victim walked away from her vehicle, then returned to retrieve her belongings. As she re-approached the vehicle, the suspect turned around and ran towards her. The suspect displayed a firearm and demanded the victim’s keys. The suspect took the victim’s keys and fled in her vehicle prior to police arrival. The unoccupied vehicle was later recovered in Prince George’s County, MD. The suspect is described as a Black male in his 40’s, medium build, approximately 5’8″, wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans, mirrored glasses, with short hair. The investigation is ongoing.
A 34-year-old D.C. man dubbed the “Beltway Bank Bandit” has pleaded guilty to charges connected to his use of a gun in three robberies, including one in Arlington.
Federal prosecutors say Freddie Lee McRae brandished a firearm when robbing a Wells Fargo branch and a Burke & Herbert branch, both in Alexandria, in late 2018. He also brandished a pistol on April 21, 2019, when he robbed the Legend Kicks and Apparel store on Columbia Pike in Arlington, prosecutors say.
McRae’s getaway vehicle was spotted by police after that robbery, leading to a chase on the GW Parkway that ended up with the car in the Potomac River and McRae unsuccessfully trying to swim to freedom.
“McRae pleaded guilty to three counts of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence,” the U.S. Attorney’ Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a press release Tuesday evening. “He faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison when sentenced on Feb. 23, 2021.”
In addition to the three robberies for which he pleaded guilty on Tuesday, McRae also admitted to several other bank robberies, as well as the attempted robbery of a Capital One Bank branch in February 2019, prosecutors say.
The full press release is below.