A 48-year-old Alexandria man faces armed robbery, abduction and other charges following an attempt to steal a safe from the this weekend, according to the Arlington County Police Department.
Albert Murray, an employee of the company the hospital uses to staff its food court, approached the cafeteria manager Saturday afternoon and asked for her help in a back office, according to information police released today.
Once the two were alone in that office, Murray allegedly held the woman at knifepoint and demanded the combination of a locked safe -- which the manager repeatedly said she didn't know.
At that point, police say Murray bound the woman's hand and feet with electrical cord. He removed the entire safe, sat it on an office chair and proceeded to roll it out of the hospital, according to police.
Murray had called a taxi ahead of time and told the driver to meet him outside of the hospital, police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said.
Murray was trying to load the safe into the taxi's trunk when the driver became suspicious and went to alert hospital staff, according to police.
Meanwhile, the cafeteria manager managed to use her teeth to unbind her hands, and then used her hands to unbind her feet. She ran out of the office and told a security guard what had happened, Sternbeck said.
"Obviously, she was visibly upset," Sternbeck said. "They ran outside. That's when Murray was trying to get in the cab."
The approaching security guard startled Murray, who jumped into the driver's seat of the cab, Sternbeck said.
He managed to go about 10 to 15 feet before the driver was able to reach into the hybrid vehicle and press a button to kill the ignition, Sternbeck said.
The two men fought briefly, and Murray attempted to run away as Arlington County police arrived, who were dispatched at 3:53 p.m.
Officers chased the man on foot and were able to quickly take him into custody with no further incident, according to police.
It's unclear what was in the safe, Sternbeck said -- or if Murray knew what was in it.
"Obviously, he took a chance," Sternbeck said. "It had to be planned out, because the taxi was waiting for him outside."
Neither the cafeteria manager nor the taxi driver were injured.
Murray was charged with armed robbery, abduction, robbery by force, grand larceny of an auto and possession of PCP, a hallucinogenic drug commonly called "angel dust."
There's no indication Murray was under the influence of drugs during Saturday's escapade, Sternbeck said.
The Virginia Hospital Center contracts with Philadelphia-based Aramark to staff its food court.
Adrian Stanton, a hospital spokesman, said while ultimately Murray is an Aramark employee, "Obviously, he won't be working here."
Stanton called the attempted robbery an isolated incident and said the hospital center had never experienced anything like this before. Beyond that, Staton said he couldn't comment because the matter remains under investigation.
Sternbeck would not say whether Murray has a criminal history.
Murray is being held without bond.