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Alleged ‘bicycle bandit’ indicted in escape, bank robberies

© Leesburg Today - 05/29/2015

An Arlington man accused of escaping from Inova Fairfax Hospital and sparking a massive manhunt across Northern Virginia was indicted Thursday on 16 federal charges.

Wossen Assaye, 43, is charged with bank robbery, bank burglary, escape, kidnapping, assault, and related firearms offenses. The indictments cover five Northern Virginia bank robberies occurring between October 2013 and March 2015, as well as a sixth case in which Assaye allegedly entered a bank with the intent to commit robbery and larceny.

Assaye was first charged with bank robbery March 25 and was subsequently arrested. While at Inova Fairfax Hospital for treatment March 30, he escaped federal custody, triggering a large-scale manhunt. Assaye also is charged with brandished a firearm to assault two federal officers assigned to guarding him and kidnapped one of the officers during his escape.

The indictment also charges Assaye with unlawfully possessing a firearm after being convicted of eight violent felonies.

He faces a mandatory minimum of 122 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison, if convicted.

In each robbery, the suspect, often entering the bank with a cell phone held to his ear, approached the bank teller, displayed a handgun or a note and demanded money, leaving on a bicycle. 

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