A D.C.-based man, dubbed the “Beltway Bank Bandit” by authorities, was convicted in a series of armed robberies from 2018 and 2019 and sentenced to 21 years in prison Tuesday.
According to a Department of Justice news release, Freddie Lee McRae, 35, robbed five banks and an apparel store in Northern Virginia and Maryland between fall 2018 and spring 2019. He also attempted to rob a sixth bank.
He was initially charged with robbing two banks and the store, but he admitted to robbing three other banks in his guilty plea:
- Bank of America branch on Oct. 27, 2018 in Springfield;
- Wells Fargo Bank on Nov. 13, 2018 in Alexandria;
- Burke & Herbert bank branch on Dec. 10, 2018 in Alexandria;
- BB & branch on Dec. 20, 2018 in Alexandria;
- Capital One branch on Jan. 2, 2019 in Bowie, Maryland;
- Legend Kicks & Apparel store on April 21, 2019 in Arlington.
McRae additionally admitted to attempting to rob a Capital One branch on Feb. 11, 2019, in Arlington.
The release said that all of the bank robberies, excluding the Wells Fargo and Burke & Herbert robberies, were investigated by the FBI as part of the “Beltway Bank Bandit” series.
In his robbing of a Wells Fargo Bank, McRae apparently handed a teller a note that demanded they give him money and he indicated that he had a firearm. He threaten to “kill all bankers” if the teller didn’t comply with his demand, the release said.
McRae pointed his firearm at two tellers and left with $8,750 in cash.
“This case involved a chilling armed robbery spree during which innocent community members were threatened with serious injury or death if they did not comply with repeated demands for money,” said Raj Parekh, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
During McRae’s robbery of a Burke & Herbert bank branch, he again approached a teller and was asked if he wanted to make a deposit. He responded with “gimme your money,” lifted up his shift and pulled a pistol out from his waistband.
McRae then pointed the gun at the teller, who gathered $1,366. He “racked the slide on the pistol” and demanded the money in large bills, the release said, and then left with the money.
In his robbery of the retail store Legend Kicks & Apparel, McRae waved his pistol at two store employees and demanded that they empty their pockets.
The employees complied and McRae then ordered them to lie on the floor before he fled with $2,160 of the store’s money in cash.
He left the area in a vehicle. A police officer attempted to pull over McRae’s car, and he stopped momentarily before leading police officers on a car chase on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Before crashing and sinking his car in the Potomac River, McRae jumped out of his moving car. He tried to flee the officers by jumping into the river.
The officers pulled McRae out of the river and arrested him.
The FBI had sought the “Beltway Bank Bandit” in connection with 14 robberies or attempted robberies.