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Three men are facing armed robbery charges after they were taken into custody Monday afternoon following a police chase that resulted in a collision involving the suspects’ vehicle, a Metrobus and a police cruiser in downtown Silver Spring, according to Montgomery County police.

Natnael Akalu, 18, of Silver Spring and Wesley Jose Nunez, 18, and Lorenzo Antonio Madrid, 19, of Washington, D.C., have been charged with armed robbery, use of a firearm during the commission of a felony violent crime, possession of a handgun and other related charges, police said Tuesday in a press release.

The three men were injured in the collision on Georgia Avenue near Sligo Avenue and remained hospitalized Tuesday with nonlife-threatening injuries, the release said.

According to police, officers responded at about 2:40 p.m. Monday to the report of an armed robbery in the 9300 block of Piney Branch Road. The victim identified the suspects’ vehicle as a Toyota Sienna minivan and officers later located the suspects at the White Oak Shopping Center on New Hampshire Avenue.

The suspects drove away, heading southbound on Colesville Road toward Georgia Avenue. Officers pursued the minivan until it crashed into the rear of a Metrobus on Georgia Avenue near Sligo Avenue. A county police cruiser then struck the rear of the minivan, according to police.

Photos of the scene from NBC4 showed a Ford minivan sitting on top of a police cruiser behind the bus. No officers were injured and “no serious injuries” of passengers on the Metrobus have been reported, police said.

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Two of the suspects were immediately taken into custody. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service crews extricated a third suspect who was pinned in the minivan, according to the press release. During the arrests, police found a loaded 9mm privately made firearm, or ghost gun, with a Glock slide and a 9mm replica airsoft gun. 

Court records related to the case and attorney information for the three men were not available Tuesday.

The press release didn’t provide information on the speed of the vehicles during the pursuit or who was driving the minivan. In addition, the release did not say whether the department is investigating the pursuit. Police did not immediately respond to email requests for more information.

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The county police department’s policy regarding pursuit says a “criminal pursuit is justified if an officer believes a felony offense has been committed or is being committed, ” according to a message by Police Chief Marcus Jones included in the department’s 2021 Annual Pursuit Report.

In addition, the message says, “a supervisor will monitor and decide on whether to allow the pursuit to continue. Safety is the primary concern, whether the safety of the public, the safety of the officer, or the safety of the person(s) who are fleeing.”

The department “conducts an in-depth review of every vehicular pursuit to make certain” its guidelines are followed, and “if not, appropriate follow-up actions are promptly taken,” the message says.

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According to the report, police were involved in 37 pursuits in 2021 and 46 in 2020.

Thirteen, or 35%, of the 37 pursuits that occurred in 2021 resulted in a collision, compared to 22 collisions, or 48%, resulting from the 46 pursuits in 2020, according to the report. One pursuit in 2021 was “deemed to be noncompliant” with department policy.

The 2021 total is lower than the department’s 10-year average of 42 pursuits per year, the report says.

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Julie Rasicot

Julie Rasicot can be reached at julie.rasicot@bethesdamagazine.com