Manassas Journal Messenger | Mechanics, teen help thwart robbery

Al McMahan and Don Tau don’t like it when people try to rob banks in their neighborhood.

The two Lake Ridge Mobil mechanics, with the aid of a 13-year-old neighborhood boy, were instrumental in the capture of a man who police say robbed the Commerce Bank next door to their station Friday afternoon during rush hour.

“They keep robbing this bank. We’re trying to send a message. You can’t just rob a bank while old Al McMahan is standin’ around here,” the 37-year-old said.

“They’ve robbed that bank too many times and they need to quit,” Tau said.

Tau and McMahan leapt to action when a bank employee came out of the bank at 2030 Old Bridge Road and said they’d been robbed.

They were in pursuit of 35-year-old Robert Cordel, who police ultimately arrested at the intersection of Hoadly Road and Prince William Parkway.

Cordel, of no fixed address, dropped some of the stolen bank property as McMahan and Tau chased him, said Prince William police Sgt. Leon Black at the crime scene near Tackett’s Mill.

“When one of the dye packs went off, he dropped the money,” Black said.

The mechanics chased Cordel through the bank’s back parking lot, which is adjacent to the filling station’s property, and lost him after he bounded down some concrete steps into another lot.

The mechanics said they chased Cordel even though they had second thoughts during the pursuit.

“I was thinking, ‘Man what am I doing chasing this guy,’ you know? ‘What if he turns around and shoots me?’ ” McMahan said.

The mechanics said they lost Cordel when his speed proved to be superior and he jumped into a black tow truck.

“He was running faster,” McMahan said.

“The adrenaline was pumping a little bit more with him I guess,” he said.

“I’m 49. I’m way too old to be chasin’ that dude. I think he was in good condition,” Tau said.

When Tau and McMahan ran out of steam, they spotted a boy on a skateboard in the lower-level of the parking lot.

“The one that ought to be the hero is that young boy on that skateboard,” Tau said.

“He’s the one that saw him get into that truck,” Tau said.

“We yelled at him and told him to follow [the robber]. He just robbed a bank,” Tau said of the skateboarder.

“He saw him get into a black truck,” Tau said. “He gave an officer a description of the vehicle and I think he even got the plate number, is my understanding.”

Police did not release the skateboarder’s name during the investigation, but Black said the information helped police quickly apprehend Cordel.

“We had the description of the vehicle and the tag number. We saturate the entire area with units during a bank robbery,” Black said.

An FBI agent at the crime scene said Commerce Bank has been robbed at least three times in the last two years.

Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.

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