Police are searching the area for a prisoner who escaped from Inova Fairfax Hospital early Tuesday morning and is said to be “armed and dangerous.”
According to news reports, the prisoner, identified as Wossen Assaye, had been taken to the hospital after a suicide attempt. He overpowered a security guard at about 3 a.m., took his gun, and escaped. One shot was fired, but no one was injured.
Assaye had been held at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria since March 21 on federal charges related to bank robbery.
Assaye has been reported as driving a car he hijacked from a woman at about 7 a.m. at Backlick Road and Cindy Lane in Annandale. The car is a 2002 silver Toyota Camry with front-end damage and Virginia license plate number XZP-8153.
Police later said Assaye might have switched to another car and is now driving a dark gray 2008 Hyundai Elantra with Virginia tags XTU-5024.
As of 10:15 a.m., police were searching around Oak Court, Whispering Lane, and the area around the Forest Hollow pool on Old Columbia Pike in Annandale.
|Police searching Whispering Lane. [NBC News Channel 4]|
According to NBC News Channel 4, a resident of the Backlick area, Preston Hall, heard a crash and a woman screaming early this morning. He came out of his house to find that Assaye had crashed into his wife’s car in the driveway. The woman who had been hijacked was able to escape and ran away. Hall followed Assaye all the way to the Home Depot on Little River Turnpike, when he heard the man was armed and dangerous and gave up the chase.
Assaye is described as black, six feet tall, weighing 170 pounds, wearing a hospital gown and no shoes. Police believe he might have later picked up his girlfriend.
According to police, Assaye is the “Bicycle Bandit,” who escaped on a bicycle after several local bank robberies. Police believe was involved in a dozen bank robberies since October 2013 but was charged with just one – the March 20 robbery of Apple Federal Credit Union in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County.
Assaye had been in prison from 2000 to 2013 after being convicted of burglary and robbery in the late 1990s.
The incident tied up traffic for hours as SWAT teams searched the area. A lockdown at the hospital was lifted at about 8 a.m. During the lockdown, hospital employees were told to go to Falls Church High School where a shuttle bus would pick them up.