Armed robbery of Safeway in Great Falls leads to sprawling police pursuit

Police line up on Route 7 during an armed robbery pursuit (via @notaveryh/Twitter)

Police took two people into custody yesterday (Thursday) after a reported armed robbery in Great Falls turned into a dizzying pursuit from Tysons to Herndon and back again.

Officers were called to the Safeway at 9881 Georgetown Pike at 12:05 p.m. for a report of a man and a woman stealing merchandise, the Fairfax County Police Department says. The suspects allegedly pointed a gun as they left the store.

According to the initial police dispatch, the individuals took Tide detergent from the store. The vehicle tag was traced to a man with an outstanding felony warrant for robbery in Prince William County.

“The two left in a car with a child in the backseat. Officers saw the car and attempted a traffic stop that resulted a pursuit,” FCPD spokesperson Sgt. Jacob Pearce said.

Per scanner traffic, the chase began on southbound I-495 (Capital Beltway) at Georgetown Pike before exiting to the westbound Dulles Toll Road toward the airport, as officers asked for a helicopter to assist.

After feinting an exit multiple times in the Reston area, the driver turned off at Centreville Road in Herndon and swung back around to the eastbound toll road. The screech of tires can be heard on the police radio.

“Do not PIT the vehicle,” a supervising officer said, referring to a maneuver used by law enforcement to stop moving vehicles. “At most, try to bring the car to a stop slowly. I do not want any reckless driving behavior to endanger the child’s life inside the car.”

The pursuit continued into the Dulles Toll Road’s airport lanes and exited onto Route 7 (Leesburg Pike), where the driver jumped a curb to cross from the eastbound to the westbound lanes.

After turning onto Trap Road, back onto the toll road, and off at Dolley Madison Blvd in McLean, the chase made its way onto the Beltway and finally ended in the northbound lanes near Lewinsville Road, where the driver was arrested.

The woman was also taken into custody, according to the FCPD.

“No injuries were sustained as a result of the incident,” Pearce said. “The child is safe and is currently with caregivers. No crashes were reported during the pursuit. Detectives are actively investigating. The names and charges will be released once charged.”

Close to 40 police vehicles were involved in the chase, including both local and state agencies, according to a tipster who said they followed part of the saga on Route 7 and the Dulles Access Road. At one point, an officer said on the radio that there were “too many vehicles” in the pursuit.

Photo via @notaveryh/Twitter. Hat tip to Alan Henney, Henry Bright and KKirkhart.

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