An Arlington man who became known as the “bicycle bandit” could face more than 100 years in prison for bank robbery and trying to escape from police custody. The man, who tried to escape from a hospital in March, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday on several charges, including bank burglary, kidnapping and escape.
Wossen Assaye, 42, gained his curious nickname after robbing dozens of banks in Virginia over the past one and a half year and then using a bicycle to escape. In two of the banks, the “bicycle bandit” actually displayed a gun, adding unlawful possession of a firearm to eight other felony charges.
Assaye tried to commit suicide while in U.S. Marshals Service and was quickly transported to the Inova Fairfax Hospital. After recovering from the failed suicide attempt, the “bicycle bandit” tried to seize the opportunity and escape.
Assaye overpowered a female guard from the hospital and then used her as a human shield after taking her gun. After getting away from the hospital, the man hid in the trunk of a Toyota and then stole another car.
The manhunt lasted for almost nine hours, and Assaye was eventually caught by the police after he was sighted on the street by an ordinary citizen. The man saw the “bicycle bandit” wandering between Minnesota Avenue and 25th Street SE and immediately prompted the authorities.
The wild chase will probably cost Assaye life in prison. After initially being arrested for bank robbery and firearms offenses, his failed attempt to run away also got him indicted for kidnapping, assault, escape and carjacking. A federal jury gave the sentence on Thursday, and the “bicycle bandit” is now facing a minimum of 122 years in prison.
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