Update, 8:14 a.m., Nov. 30:
Police have arrested Henry Levi Sanders, 50, of Landover in the string of kidnappings and robberies in Wheaton.
Montgomery County Police obtained a warrant for Sanders on Tuesday and charged him with multiple counts of kidnapping and robbery.
More information to come after a press conference at 11 a.m.
Update, 4:05 p.m., Nov. 28:
Police released surveillance video of the suspect in the three kidnappings and robberies.
Update, 11:40 a.m., Nov. 28: Shoppers continued to stream into Wheaton Plaza today even after three alleged incidences of kidnappings and robberies here in less than a week.
The latest incident occurred on Sunday when police said a man, armed with a box cutter, forced a 77-year-old man into his car and attempted to get him to withdraw money from his bank accounts.
Patch attempted to talk to shoppers in the parking lot of the Giant Food on University Boulevard, where the first two crimes occurred. But, Westfield mall security, with the verbal approval of the Montgomery County Police, escorted the press off the property. Before being removed from the Wheaton Westfield Shoppingtown property, Patch found a few shoppers nervous about what had happened.
“I don’t spend as much time in the parking lot now,” said one shopper, who declined to give her name as she was hurriedly loading her grocery bags into the back of her car.
“It’s scary, but I’m probably not going to stop coming here,” said Anne Easom, 75.
Jessica Orellana, 23, works nearby, but had not heard anything about the kidnappings and robberies. Sitting outside Baja Fresh, which is right across the parking lot from the Giant, she said that she was now fearful.
Louise Crane, who has lived in Kensington for more than a decade and frequently shops at the Giant, said that she was in the parking lot a few hours after the third kidnapping and robbery that occurred on Sunday afternoon. Two other similar incidences occurred on Nov. 22 and Nov. 26. She said that the parking lot was noticeably less full than the week before, and there was a police car parked outside the Giant. But she said that the additional police presence came too late.
“I’m sure people are avoiding that parking lot now,” Crane said, calling the midday crimes “very brazen.”“I’m certainly going to be very careful and park close to an entrance,” she added.
Montgomery County Police have had two other calls to remove press from the property, according to Officer Howard Hersh.
“There is an increase in police presence because of the crime,” he said.Westfield did not answer any questions about heightened mall security or the removal of press from the area, but said that officials with the company are cooperating with the police investigation.
Original article, 7:19 a.m., Nov. 28:
There has been another kidnapping and robbery in a string of similar incidents in Wheaton.
According to Montgomery County Police, at about 2 p.m. Sunday a 77-year-old man was forced to get into his car from the Westfield Wheaton Shopping Mall on Veirs Mill Road by a man armed with a box cutter. The suspect drove the man around to several unknown locations possibly attempting to withdraw cash from the victim’s bank account. The suspect eventually drove to a location in the 3500 block of East-West Highway in Hyattsville where he fled on foot.
Passers-by saw the victim sitting in the passenger seat of the car and called police. The victim had cuts from the box cutter and was beaten on his face and head, according to police. The man was treated for serious but non life-threatening injuries at a local hospital.
The incident is similar to two other kidnappings and robberies that happened in the area in less than a week. On Nov. 22, Montgomery County Police said a 75-year-old man was forced into his car in the Giant Food parking lot at 3403 University Blvd. The suspect drove him to ATMs in the area and forced him to withdraw cash. The suspect later fled to a Metro station.
On Nov. 26, a 60-year-old man was accosted in the Westfield mall in a similar incident. Police believe the same suspect is involved in all three crimes. He is described as a black male with a medium complexion. He is about 40 years old and 6 feet tall. He weighs about 180 pounds.