Even his shoes were bruised Purse-snatching suspect captured after wild chase.

April 19, 1991|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff

Mark Brown seems more upset that his favorite $70 Italian dress shoes, rather than his body, got bruised.

"They are not doing fine at all," Brown, 25, of East Baltimore says of his badly scraped tasseled shoes. "I'll just buy me a new pair."

Brown set out to capture a suspected purse snatcher yesterday and found himself hanging on for dear life to a car operated by the suspect whom Brown had chased at least seven blocks.

"Fast isn't the word. . . . He slammed the accelerator all the way down and slammed into a wall" at Holliday and Saratoga streets, said Brown, a security officer for the Maryland Department of Licensing and Regulation in the 500 block of St. Paul Place.

Brown, a father of three, received two gashes on each leg, two knots on each knee and a bruise on his forehead when the man rammed the Ford Taurus -- which belonged to an off-duty police detective -- into the wall.

The car was being operated with "both doors open, dragging me and the officer down the street," Brown said.

"The officer" hanging onto the car was burglary Detective Horace F. Comegna, 47. His wife, Barbara, was inside the vehicle.

After the crash, Brown and Comegna fought with the fleeing man.

"He was strong . . ." Brown said of the suspect, who he estimated was more than 6 feet tall and weighed 210 pounds. Brown is 6-foot-1 but only 140 pounds. "He could run fast . . . too."

Agent Arlene Jenkins, a police spokeswoman, said Horace Comegna suffered a severely bitten right index finger and Barbara Comegna received neck bruises.

The Comegnas, Brown and the suspect were treated and released at Mercy Medical Center.

The incident began about 6:40 a.m. yesterday, some 15 minutes after Brown had arrived for work.

"I sat down to drink a cup of coffee when a lady screamed a terrible scream," Brown recalled.

"This guy had grabbed her by the neck and snatched her pocketbook" outside the building where Brown works. Without hesitation, he chased the man.

Dressed in an orange sweat suit and tennis shoes, the man ran south on St. Paul Place, cut through alleys and a parking garage onto Calvert Street, then east on Saratoga Street. Brown was close behind.

Near Saratoga and Holliday streets, Horace Comegna, who was off duty but on his way to work with his wife in the car, noticed the chase and saw a man dive under a parked car.

Leaving his wife in the car and the motor running, the detective ran over to the car where the man had hidden. Meanwhile, the man rolled out from under the car and jumped into the Comegna vehicle.

As the suspect tried to drive away, Brown and the detective held on to the doors. The man rammed the car into the wall of a building.

"That's when the officer and me jumped in the passenger side, where his wife was sitting," Brown said. "There were four adults in the front seat of a Taurus. It was wild.

"I used whatever maneuvers I could to stop him. I held him down and the officer did, too."

When the chase and struggle were over, Ronald Joshua Wingate, 39, of the 600 block of Chase St., was charged with two counts of assault and robbery, four counts of assault and battery, reckless endangerment and maiming, Jenkins said. He was being held at the Central District lockup pending a bail hearing.

Police identified the robbery victim as Yun Kum Son, 29, of the 8300 block of Timber Lake Court in Severn. Her purse was recovered and returned to her.

Brown said his two years with the Guardian Angels as a teen-ager helped him during the incident, which lasted about 20 minutes.

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