A bizarre chain of events, which began when a man called state police and reported he was heading to Washington to help President George Bush with the Iraqi situation, ended yesterday with the man's arrest after a high-speed chase on U.S. 29, county police said.
The developments began at about 9:20 a.m., when three county police cars attempted to pull over a truck that was clocked at approximately 85 mph asit traveled south on U.S. 29, police said.
Police say the chase began near South Entrance Road and ended just south of Route 32. During the chase, one of the officers learned that the driver, Michael Ashwell, 29, of Long Corner Road in Mount Airy, had made strange remarks about the president earlier in the day, police said.
Ashwell initially called the Woodstock Post Office and told a postal worker that he intended to travel to Washington to assist the president in the Iraqi crisis, said police spokesman Gary L. Gardner.
Ashwell also called state police to request an escort for his trip, Gardner said.
Police say they expect to charge Ashwell with motor vehicle violations. He is currently undergoing a mental evaluation at Howard County General Hospital.
During questioning at county police headquarters, Ashwell became violent and irrational, Gardner said.
After Ashwell was taken into custody, U.S. Secret Service agents were notified of Ashwell's arrest and the circumstances surrounding it, Gardner said. "They were notified for their own information," he said.
An agent briefly questioned the suspect and has concluded his investigation.
STATE OFFERS REWARD IN SUB SHOP TORCHING
The state Fire Marshal's office is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of whoever set fire to an Elkridge sub and pizza shop early yesterday morning.
"We've ruled itto be arson, and we are looking for suspects," said Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Robert Thomas, who declined to say how the fire was set in the restaurant.
The fire began about 5 a.m. in D.J.'s Subs &Pizza, in the 6500 block of Washington Boulevard. County firefighters say the blaze destroyed the business, causing approximately $150,000 in damage.
A county Fire Department report said the fire began in the rear of the building and had caused extensive damage by the time firefighters arrived on the scene.
The business is a small neighborhood carry-out shop owned by Stanley Nasiataka.
The fire also gutted a vacant second-floor apartment, Thomas said.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the state Fire Marshal's office at (800) 492-7529.
COLUMBIAN ARRESTED AFTER ABDUCTION TRY
County police have charged a Columbia man with assault in the Jan. 9 attempted abduction of a 31-year-old woman, a police spokesman said.
Thomas Lightfoot, 41, of the 9300 block of Indian Camp Road was arrested Monday morning after police said they learned his name from thevictim, said Sgt. Gary L. Gardner.
The woman, from Laurel, reported that Lightfoot approached her shortly after 8:30 a.m. in a Columbia post office and began threatening her with an 8-inch knife he was carrying, police said.
Police say the woman, a former co-worker of Lightfoot's, was able to jerk away from her abductor and ran back into the post office. She was not injured.
Lightfoot, who police say has been arrested on at least one previous occasion in an attempted abduction case, is being held on $50,000 bond at the Howard County Detention Center.