HAGERSTOWN — A Virginia man who police allege robbed the Susquehanna Bank on Frederick Street in Hagerstown Thursday morning was caught after a brief car chase that leveled fences and ended in a field behind Bester Elementary School.
Carl Whited, 44, of 168 Rocky Road in Luray, Va., was charged with robbery, armed robbery, assault, reckless endangerment, theft, damage to property, possession of stolen property and failure of vehicle driver to stop after unattended property damage accident, according to a Hagerstown Police Department news release.
He also was charged with driving on a revoked license and privilege, failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to stop at a steady circular red signal, driving in the wrong direction on a one-way road, reckless driving, negligent driving and driving on left side of roadway in a posted no passing zone marked by pavement striping, police said.
Police allege Whited entered the bank shortly before 10 a.m., brandished a handgun and announced that he intended to rob the bank. He then left after two bank tellers handed him an undetermined amount of cash.
City Police Chief Arthur Smith said officers used a description from bank employees to spot the Buick that Whited was driving near Wilson Boulevard and South Potomac Street.
He said the driver drove the car through back alleys, and wound up in an alley near Bester Elementary, where he tried to crash through a chain-link fence.
The Buick got tangled up in the fence, but the driver was able to get the car going again, Smith said. The vehicle then traveled across the field behind Bester and was stopped when it ran into another chain-link fence behind Julia Manor nursing home.
"He was riding around in circles with us behind him," Smith said. "He wasn't inclined to stop."
At that point, the man got out of the car and ran toward Julia Manor. Police caught him about 20 feet from the vehicle, Smith said.
The man had a handgun in his waistband, which later was described as a BB/pellet style pistol, but left it on the front seat of the four-door vehicle before he got out to run, Smith said.
The officers showed excellent "firearms discipline" in apprehending the man, he said.
After he was captured, Whited was placed in a police car and taken to Washington County Central Booking. Money was strewn on the ground on the driver's side of the Buick and near the site of Whited's capture.
Police determined that the Buick had been reported stolen from a car lot on Wednesday.
Richard Wright, a spokesman for Washington County Public Schools, said that Bester was placed on lockdown after officials were notified of what was happening before the car reached school property.
A school resource officer, based on the South Hagerstown High campus, heard about the bank robbery on the police scanner and notified Bester to go on lockdown immediately, Wright said.
The school was on modified lockdown shortly before 10:30 a.m., meaning no students would be allowed outside for recess or physical education classes, but people, such as parents, could enter or leave the school with supervision, Wright said.
During the initial lockdown, no one could enter or leave the school, he said.
Wright said school officials were preparing a letter to send home to parents to let them know what happened.