A man who was chased to an elderly woman's Southwest Baltimore row house Sunday night was flushed out of his hiding place by neighbors after police abandoned the search.
"He was hiding in the kitchen shed the whole time. We kept telling [the police] he was in there, but they wouldn't believe us," said Roger Caruso, a neighbor who rousted the intruder with a baseball bat.
After a brief struggle in which Mr. Caruso said he struck the man and told him, "You deserve it," the small-framed intruder fled.
"We're not vigilantes, but we can't have criminals hiding in our cabinets," Mr. Caruso said.
The string of events began at 9:30 p.m. Sunday when Sgt. Robert Biemiller saw a man "running full blast" out of a bar in the 1100 block of West Baltimore Street. His behavior was so suspicious, Sergeant Biemiller said, that he chased the man several blocks to the open front door of a house in the 100 block of Boyd Street that is occupied by a 76-year-old woman.
"I was within 10 feet of him when he slammed the door on me," Sergeant Biemiller said. The door locked behind the man. But outside about 12 other officers had arrived -- along with a patrol helicopter overhead -- and the hubbub attracted the attention of the entire neighborhood.
The elderly resident told the police the intruder ran to the second floor. An open window at the top of the steps prompted Sergeant Biemiller to conclude the man had escaped through it.
"The police all ran in the house and searched it for about five minutes, then they came out and said he'd gotten away," said Carol Triplett, a neighbor. Mr. Caruso said he thought the man might have hidden in a small, dark room he called the kitchen's shed, waiting for the police to give up the search.
His wife, Patricia Caruso, said she tried to talk the officers into conducting a more extensive search, but "they were damn sure he wasn't in there, that he'd escaped somehow," she said.
The police left, but Mr. Caruso and two of the elderly woman's relatives -- armed with makeshift clubs -- went into the house to take up the search again.
"I looked in the shed, and there he was," said Mr. Caruso, telling how the man tried to run past him and Mr. Caruso grabbed him. "He kept saying, 'No, man, no, man,' " Mr. Caruso said. "I said, 'You might be able to hide from the cops, but you can't hide from me.' "
But the suspect fought his way to freedom, and police said last night that he was still on the loose.
Sergeant Biemiller said he was unable to find out why the man ran out of the bar in the first place. When the sergeant returned to the bar at Baltimore Street and Carrollton Avenue, no one there was aware that the man had done anything wrong, although they said they thought he was armed.
"I guess this is the case of the missing crime," the sergeant said.