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Police Arrest Suspect in Wheaton Kidnappings and Robberies

Press conference to announce the arrest is scheduled for 11 a.m.

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.

Malcolm Wilson November 28, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Probably time for our county council to investigate whether or not we need a curfew on senior citizens....if they weren't on the streets between noon and seven PM they would not be in danger of being kidnapped....
Malcolm Wilson November 28, 2011 at 02:31 PM
then we could have more incidents like the one in Fredericksburg VA a couple weeks ago where a guy blew his leg off wehn he accidentally discharged his concealed firearm while undoing his seatbelt. There is a huge difference between carrying a gun and being able to use it.
Alan November 28, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Malcolm, I am assuming you are kidding, right?!?!?!
Alan November 28, 2011 at 03:02 PM
GREAT!!! To those who are reading this story..., how many black men are out there 6' tall and 180 pounds. Now, take a white guy, same build and paint his face black. I wonder if the perp would even attempt such an alleged act in a conceal carry state (a State in which a common citizen has the option to legally carry a handgun)? And, I wonder how those who were allegedly kidnapped, beaten, cut, and robbed, in the past week, in WHEATON (?!?!?!), would feel about living in a State that does not even allow for an option to have a conceal carry permit, that is, the means for personally protecting yourself... just wondering... In the meantime, if you're old, or act old, or even look old, or otherwise, are vulnerable, please be on the lookout for your safety. Of course, that means, ALL of US!! For a perp such as described in this story, there's really no guess work needed here..., not in this State..., because he/she knows we really have no means (legally) to protect ourselves..., not even an option to do so. Now, go ahead and stir your coffee, and think about how you would feel if this happened to you, in broad daylight, in an area you find yourself in almost every day..., like today, like this afternoon. Go ahead, take a couple of days, even a week. Don't be surprised if you see, yet, another segment to this same story.... Then, stop wondering, and go contact your congress person(s), state representative(s), and demand them to stop wondering as well!!! It's time!!
Linda Amendt November 28, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Amusing--but NOT nice! Senior citizen, Linda Amendt
Linda Amendt November 28, 2011 at 03:08 PM
Pul-lease! Then we'd get held up at gun-point instead of at "box-cutter" point.
Alan November 28, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Linda, your're kidding too, right?! OK, then carry a "box-cutter". But, keep in mind, that if one's intent is to use a box-cutter as one did in the story, that's illegal as well. If the perp still insists on using a knife in a gun fight, then he will likely lose the fight. So, Linda, are you willing to fight?, and, if so, are you willing to lose? It's really time to keep the eyes from rolling up, keep the perverbial comments that start with that ever disgusting "Pul-lease" word, and really think how you would feel if you were one of the three individuals described in the story. And, then ask yourself how could I have protected my self? Curfews are not the answer... and carrying a gun may not be as well. But not having the option to do so, is definitely not in favor of surviving an attack.
Stephan November 28, 2011 at 03:43 PM
If the criminal wanted a gun, he could get a gun. When guns become outlawed, only the outlaws have guns. Today though, he doesn't need one, since he knows there's no legal way of him being harmed more than pepper spray, which isn't so bad of a risk compared to death. Especially when it comes to the elderly.
Linda Amendt November 28, 2011 at 03:44 PM
I understand where you are coming from--believe me. I do not purport to carry anything myself. BUT! If it was legal--I would carry a gun at all times. I was in the Army and I am an expert marksman. Being 5'2", 125 pounds, and 61 years old--there is little I can do to protect myself except scream, make a huge fuss, pretend to faint, and whatever. If I was strong enough, I would learn protective marshal arts manoevers. So we are essentially in agreement. Lin
Alan November 28, 2011 at 03:59 PM
LIN!!! you go GIRL!! Applause!!! Thank you for serving!! And, you are here to talk about it!! So, please, contact your various government officials. We, at least, need the option to be able to carry, so that others who feel they can take advantage of what otherwise is an unarmed individual, would think twice.
Malcolm Wilson November 28, 2011 at 06:08 PM
yes, your assumption is correct
S November 28, 2011 at 09:12 PM
I would like to know what Westfield Wheaton is doing to increase security in the wake of these incidents. I was at the mall this past Sunday and saw a few "rent-a-cops" inside the mall and outside of the Target (Panera side). When I walked in shortly after 1pm, the security guards outside the Target were chatting with each other and not patrolling. I left the mall just after this incident happened (2:05pm-- I know the exact time b/c I received a text messsage as I was walking out) the guards were in the same place, still chatting away.
Linda Amendt November 28, 2011 at 09:16 PM
I also was at Target this weekend--and the "extra" guards were chatting away with each other by the carts when I went in. They were still there an hour later--paying no attention to anyone but themselves--and a few attractive young women--when I went out. Not exactly the stuff from which confidence is gathered. Lin
Alan November 28, 2011 at 09:29 PM
We're all talking about just a few guards..., and the guards are what they are. We should be talking about being on guard ourselves!!! Get this state to have an option for citizens to carry a gun. PERIOD! And stuff like this would likely not happen. There are statistics all over the country. Read them. And then compare them to what all goes on in our State. You will have a different outlook... GUARANTEED!
TaL November 28, 2011 at 10:32 PM
Are you going to do a follow up on the removal of press from the Mall? Did you get the officer's name and badge # who assisted mall security?
Malcolm Wilson November 29, 2011 at 01:41 PM
How many 70 years olds do you think would take advantage of your concealed carry law? This guy is preying on elderly folks for a reason.
Malcolm Wilson November 29, 2011 at 02:42 PM
FYI....this is from the NRA website linking to the Maryland website. Might not be as easy as Virginia but it's still an option if you want to go through the classes and certification. PERMIT TO CARRY Application for a permit to carry a handgun is made to the Secretary of State Police. The applicant should submit a notarized letter stating the reasons why he is applying for a permit, in addition to the printed application form. The permit may be issued if the Secretary finds that the applicant: 1. Is 18 years of age or older. 2. Has not been convicted of a felony or of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. 3. Has not been committed within the previous 10 years to any juvenile detention center for longer than one year. 4. Is not an addict or alcoholic nor has ever been convicted of a narcotics offense. 5. Has not, based on the results of investigation, exhibited a propensity for violence or instability. 6. Has, based on the results of investigation, "good and substantial reason" to carry a handgun, including a finding that the permit is "necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger." [5]
Kanisa Johnson Baker November 29, 2011 at 07:35 PM
I work in one of the office buildings that is part of Westfield. Yesterday they sent out a memo in response to the incidences. (I tried to upload the memo to the article don't know if it worked) Supposedly you can call security for an escort if you are feeling unsafe in walking to your car.
Damian Garde November 29, 2011 at 11:11 PM
Kanisa, it doesn't look like the upload went through, but you can you send it to me at Damian.Garde@Patch, and I'll post it.
Charles L.Garris November 30, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Malcolm, Had he attacked me in the lot, I would likely have cut his throat with a USMC knife - and I'm 79. Had he gotten in my car, I would have shot him, in the face, w/a .38 S&W.
Malcolm Wilson November 30, 2011 at 03:35 PM
and you would probably be the exception to the rule. Understand that I am not against concealed carry, etc, but having a WW II vet father who is also a retired detective, I believe that most people of that age group wouldn't have the reactive skills to fend off a suprise attack. Glad to hear they have arrested this guy.
TaL November 30, 2011 at 04:59 PM
I was at Giant at around 9pm on the 28th...I swear this dude was crusing through the parking lot in an old green jacket and tried to hit me up for 50 cents. Kind of came up behind me while I was putting groceries in the car and when I spun around is when he asked. Always be aware of everything around you.
momof2 November 30, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Wouldn't it be nice for shopping families going to the parking lot offer to sure help a senior make it safely to their car.

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