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 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.
Bill Would Allow Open Containers in More Places — “A bill introduced in the Virginia General Assembly would let more shopping center developments offer open-container access under the state’s liquor laws. Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, introduced the measure… The change could theoretically benefit at least a couple of developments in Favola’s backyard,” including the Village at Shirlington and Market Common Clarendon. [Washington Business Journal]
County Board Organizational Meeting Tonight — “The Arlington County Board will elect its 2020 County Board chair and vice-chair at its Organizational Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the County Board Room, Room 307 in the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center. The Board also will adopt procedures for 2020 and name Board members to represent Arlington on regional bodies.” [Arlington County]
Bank Robbery Suspect Also Faces Charges in Bethesda — “One of three suspects who stole $60,000 worth of jewelry from a Bethesda, Maryland, shop in mid December was arrested Monday after robbing a bank in Arlington, Virginia, police say. Derrick Lamont Graham, 42, walked into the BB&T bank at 2200 Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon on Friday and gave a note to an employee that implied he had a weapon, Arlington County police said.” [NBC 4, WTOP]
New Year’s Eve Problems — From a local Nextdoor user: “Hi everyone I lost the keys to my apartment last night somewhere in Clarendon. If anyone has found a key chain with 1 single key, a fob, and a white “tile,” please contact me!” [Twitter]
(Updated at 11:25 p.m.) Arlington County Police responded to a bank robbery in the Courthouse neighborhood, just blocks from police headquarters, Monday morning.
The robbery was reported around 11:15 a.m. at the BB&T Bank at 2200 Clarendon Blvd.
The suspect reportedly fled the bank with cash and ran west on Clarendon Blvd. Soon after arriving on scene, officers took suspect in custody at the Courthouse Metro station, according to scanner traffic.
FINAL: ACPD has arrested and charged Derrick Graham, 42, of No Fixed Address with Robbery.
Excellent work by ACPD officers to quickly bring this case to its resolution. pic.twitter.com/XlYqkij5oH
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) December 30, 2019
Budder Khan, now 29, pleaded guilty today to robbing two pawn shops in Falls Church, federal prosecutors announced. Khan could face decades in prison for the pawn shop robberies, which took place in 2014 and 2015.
More from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:
An Arlington man pleaded guilty today to robbing two Falls Church pawn shops of nearly $800,000 in jewelry and watches.
According to court documents, in July 2014, Budder Khan, 29, entered Route 50 Gold and Jewelry Exchange, forced the store’s employees to the ground using what appeared to be a real firearm, smashed the business’s glass display cases and took jewelry and watches worth over $650,000. Later, in April 2015, Khan entered Top Pawn, again used what appeared to be a real firearm to frighten the store’s employees, smashed the business’s glass display cases and stole jewelry and watches worth over $143,000.
Khan pleaded guilty to two counts of interference with commerce by robbery and faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison when sentenced on December 6. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI WFO’s Violent Crime Safe Streets Task Force which is composed of Special Agents of the FBI, along with Detectives from the Fairfax County Police, the Prince William County Police, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office, the Arlington County Police, the Alexandria City Police, the Leesburg Police, Vienna Police Department, Herndon Police Department, Fairfax City Police, Falls Church Police Department, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department and in partnership with the ATF, USMS, HSI, and other federal agencies. This task force focuses on investigating the most egregious and violent criminal enterprises and actors operating in the Capital Region.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Timothy M. Dunham, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, and Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr., Fairfax County Chief of Police, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander E. Blanchard is prosecuting the case.
Flickr photo by Joe Gratz
Arlington County Police arrested a suspect who allegedly tried to rob a bank in Crystal City this morning.
Around 11:30 a.m., the suspect walked into the BB&T branch at the corner of 23rd Street S. and S. Eads Street and “passed a note to the teller demanding money,” according to ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
“The suspect fled the scene without any money and was located by responding officers and taken into police custody,” Savage said.
Additional details, including the suspect’s name, were not immediately available.
Map via Google Maps
The FBI’s Washington office is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the man’s capture, up from $5,000, and investigators believe he’s now been involved in 20 robberies across Virginia, Maryland and D.C. over the last year or so.
County police believe a man walked into the Capital One bank at 3532 Columbia Pike around 2:15 p.m. Monday, brandishing a gun and passing a teller a note demanding money. However, he fled the scene before he could get any cash.
Police released surveillance photos yesterday (Thursday) of the man wearing a mask and hard hat, which the FBI believes is consistent with the “Bank Bandit’s” previous robberies. Investigators say he’s passed a threatening note to tellers in each of his robberies, and has “worn different disguises such as a baseball cap, wig, gloves, hijab or hoodie to alter his appearance,” according to a news release.
The FBI believes the man has previously robbed banks in Alexandria, Falls Church and Centreville, but this is the first incident he’s been involved in Arlington.
Investigators describe him as a black man in 20s or 30s, standing between 5’7″ and 6’2″, weighing between 160 and 170 pounds.
The FBI is asking anyone with more information to call 202-278-2000 or submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov.
The #FBI has doubled the #reward to $10,000 for information leading to the capture of the "Beltway Bank Bandit." Have info? Submit a tip at https://t.co/t8G7LO4hxu #Wanted https://t.co/AZwvolZekC pic.twitter.com/YJKxTr7WeH
— FBI Washington Field (@FBIWFO) February 15, 2019
Arlington County Police are on scene of a reported bank robbery on Columbia Pike.
The robbery happened around 2:15 p.m. Initial reports suggest that a masked man armed with a gun passed a note to a teller inside the Capital One Bank branch at 3532 Columbia Pike. Afterward he fled on foot.
The suspect is described as a black male between 5’9″ and 5’10” in height. He was reportedly wearing a yellow construction helmet and vest, a blue surgical mask, black sunglasses, a black hoodie and black pants.
No injuries were reported.
The bank branch is set to close this spring.
Update at 2:45 p.m. on 4/8/18 — Christopher Lee Hicks has been arrested thanks to a tip, police announced today.
Arlington County Police located the bank robbery suspect following a citizen tip to the Emergency Communication Center. Christopher Lee Hicks was taken into custody in the 500 block of W. Broad Street in the City of Falls Church with the assistance of the City of Falls Church Police Department. He is charged with one count of Robbery and is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.
Earlier: Arlington County Police have identified a suspect in the December robbery of a Wells Fargo bank in Westover.
Police are looking for Christopher Lee Hicks, who they say is the man seen in surveillance photos of the robbery.
More from ACPD:
The Arlington County Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance locating a suspected wanted for robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank located at 1701 N. McKinley Road on December 22, 2017. Christopher Lee Hicks, 42, of No Fixed Address is wanted in Arlington County on one count of Robbery. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Christopher Lee Hicks should contact Detective C. Riccio at 703.228.4180 or [email protected] If seen, please call 9-1-1 immediately.
The man suspected of robbing the TD Bank in Clarendon last week is now in police custody.
Police say 33-year-old Jason Walker was arrested by Metro Transit Police at the Columbia Heights station in D.C. He’s accused of robbing the bank last Friday while unarmed and, reportedly, without implying that he was armed.
More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:
A bank robbery suspect wanted in Arlington County has been taken into custody by the Metro Transit Police Department. Jason Walker, 33, of no fixed address, was arrested during the evening of January 10, 2018, at the Columbia Heights Metro Station. Walker has been charged with strong-arm robbery of a business and is currently being held pending extradition to the Commonwealth.
On Friday, January 5, 2018, at approximately 10:55 a.m., a male suspect entered the TD Bank located at 3101 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia and passed the teller a note, demanding money. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of money, the suspect exited the bank and fled the area on foot.
“Our detectives were able to identify this suspect in a timely manner as a direct result of our outstanding relationship and the ability to share resources with our partners at Metro Transit Police Department,” comments Daniel J. Murray, Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations Division for Arlington County Police Department.
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating a bank robbery that happened in Clarendon this morning.
Police were called to the TD Bank on the 3100 block of Wilson Blvd, just across from the Clarendon Metro, around 11 a.m.
A man entered the bank, passed a note to a teller and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. The suspect did not display or imply a weapon. He remains at large.
ACPD issued the following press release Friday afternoon.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a bank robbery suspect captured on surveillance footage.
On Friday, January 5, 2018, at approximately 10:55 a.m., a male suspect entered the TD Bank located at 3101 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia and passed the teller a note, demanding money. No weapon was shown or implied. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of money, the suspect exited the bank and fled the area on foot.
The suspect is described as a black male in his mid-20’s, 5’8″ tall, weighing approximately 150lbs with a thin build. He was wearing a gray hoodie, a red knit hat and gray Nike sneakers at the time of the incident.
The Arlington County Police Department requests that anyone with information regarding this incident contact Detective R. Munizza at 703.228.4171 or [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).