Escaped prisoner from massive March manhunt appears in Va. court

WASHINGTON — The prisoner who overpowered a guard and escaped from a Fairfax County hospital in March was arraigned Friday in a federal court in Alexandria.

Wossen Assaye, 42, is charged with a total of 16 counts that include bank robbery, escape, kidnapping and assaulting or resisting two guards as well as several gun-related counts.

Investigators say he overpowered a guard around 3 a.m. on March 31 while her partner was using the bathroom. One shot was fired inside the hospital, but no one was hurt.

The two guards had been working for the U.S. Marshal Service at the time. 

During the arraignment, Assaye’s lawyer asked for a jury trial which is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 31, and is expected to last four days. Assaye remains in custody.

Prior to the incident, Assaye was dubbed the “Bicycle Bandit.” He’s charged with robbing a number of banks across Northern Virginia within a year and a half period. Prosecutors say he usually made his getaway on a bicycle.

At the time of his March escape, he was at Invoa Fairfax Hospital after attempting suicide while in the Alexandria jail.

During the manhunt, Assaye ran to a nearby apartment complex where he hid in the trunk of a Toyota Camry for several hours. While the car owner was driving to work, he kicked through the back seat from the trunk and eventually stole the car, according to investigators.

They say Assaye later stole a second car from an Annandale neighborhood.

Police eventually arrested Assaye in the area of Minnesota Avenue and 25th Street SE after a nine-hour manhunt. His arrest came after a tip from a member of the public, who spotted Assaye on the street.

WTOP’s Kathy Stewart and Max Smith contributed to this report. 

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