Suspect, hiding under porch, flushed out by police

April 28, 1991|By Rafael Alvarez

They hosed him down and flushed him out.

After nearly four hours of trying to coax a robbery and kidnapping suspect out from under a wooden porch in Woodmoor yesterday, Baltimore County police unleashed their most potent weapon -- a garden hose.

The armed man -- wanted for the robbery of a Northwest Baltimore clothing store that led to an abduction and a running gunbattle with police -- hid under the low wooden porch on Hillsmere Road just before noon.

He was holding a stainless steel, long-barreled .44-caliber Magnum at the time. About the only thing he said to police was that he was going to kill himself.

"Negotiations went on without him talking until a little after 3:30 p.m., and then they came up with an idea," said Sgt. Steven R. Doarnberger, a county police spokesman.

The brainstorm was more of a shower.

"They hooked up a garden hose, ran it through the house, reached it out a back window and squirted it on the deck, getting him wet," Sergeant Doarnberger said. "We told him if he wanted us to turn off the water he'd have to start talking to us."

After a few moments, the concept seeped into the suspect, and he agreed to surrender if three conditions were met: He wanted something to eat, he wanted to have a cut bandaged, and he wanted to see a psychiatrist.

"We're honest people," said Sergeant Doarnberger, who said the man was later fed chicken, a roll, succotash, pudding and ice water. "We agreed to what he wanted, and he came out."

No one was hurt in the series of incidents that began at 11:20 a.m. at Etcetera Boutique at 4722 Liberty Heights Ave. when a man walked in just after the store opened and said he wanted to buy a dress for his girlfriend, police said.

Within moments the man announced a holdup, police said, and took money from the cash register, filled his pockets with jewelry, and tied up a woman working in the store.

A second woman in the store, identified by police as Sarah A. Wallace, 39, of Sunny Meadow Court near the Bonnie Ridge Golf Course, was forced to drive the suspect in her car to a nearby Maryland National Bank after the man found a computer banking card in her purse.

The woman who was tied up managed to free herself and call police as Ms. Wallace drove the suspect to the bank at 6929 Liberty Road, where she was forced at gunpoint to use her bank card to withdraw money.

Ricardo Silva and his daughter were using the bank machine when the pair arrived. "I knew something was going on because she was finely dressed and he was dressed not so finely," Mr. Silva said. "And then a Baltimore City policeman pulled up."

When police ordered the man to drop his weapon he ran, allowing Ms. Wallace to get away.

Police chased the man, who jumped into a parked pickup truck behind a nearby Shell station and fired a shot through the truck's windshield at police. Police returned fire, and the man bailed out of the truck. He ran across the south end of the parking lot at the Woodmore Shopping Center, where more shots were exchanged.

The man then ran behind the house in the 3500 block of Hillsmere Road and slid under the porch in his futile attempt to hide from the law.

County police said Shawn Sterling Crowner, 29, of the 3100 block of Milford Avenue, was held last night on charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, three counts of assault with intent to murder, grand theft auto and a handgun violation. Police said the suspect would be evaluated by a psychiatrist before he was taken to see a bail commissioner.

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