60-mile chase ends in suicide of Arundel man Vandalism suspect was fleeing police

October 07, 1991|By John Rivera 2

A 26-year-old Glen Burnie man led officers from several police agencies on a 60-mile, 40-minute high-speed chase yesterday through five counties before committing suicide as he was cornered in Frederick, authorities said.

Michael Brenden Rhodes Jr., a truck driver who lived in the first block of Forestdale Avenue, was flown by state police helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died shortly after 3 p.m.

A neighbor who asked not to be identified said that Mr. Rhodes drove a tractor-trailer between Baltimore and New York for an air cargo company located at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The pursuit began at the BWI Commerce Park, near the intersection of Dorsey and Old Telegraph roads, at 11:55 a.m., where an Anne Arundel County officer was investigating a complaint from an air cargo company that several of its trucks had been vandalized -- including one that had a bullet fired into its engine block.

An employee showed the officer a 1974 Chevrolet Nova on the parking lot, with spent shell casings inside the car, said Officer V. Richard Molloy, an Anne Arundel County police spokesman.

The officer stepped away to consult a superior and while the two were talking, "the car fired by" with Mr. Rhodes behind the steering wheel, Officer Molloy said.

The Anne Arundel officers pursued the car, quickly joined by state troopers as they sped along Dorsey Road to Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, Interstate 97 and the Beltway, exiting at Ritchie Highway.

As the fleeing suspect left the Beltway, Trooper Charles Lewis, 27, of the Glen Burnie barracks, pulled his car alongside the Chevrolet and

Mr. Rhodes shot at him, narrowly missing the trooper, said state police spokesman Chuck Jackson.

The suspect led the trailing police cars back onto the Beltway in the opposite direction, speeding as fast as 100 mph as they drove one-quarter of the way around the inner loop to Interstate 70. More than 30 cruisers from various police agencies joined the pursuit, which turned west on I-70 through Howard and Carroll counties, Mr. Jackson said.

Mr. Rhodes fired again at the pursuing police cars with a sawed-off shotgun but did not hit anything. He also shot out his back window and fired several more shots through it, Mr. Jackson said.

Entering Frederick County, Mr. Rhodes maneuvered through a barricade that state troopers set up at the Monocacy River Bridge by crossing the median into the eastbound lanes. As he drove through, troopers fired six shots at the oncoming Chevy -- the only shots fired by police officers during the chase, Mr. Jackson said.

Mr. Rhodes drove off the interstate onto a dirt road and then onto Walser Drive, a service road along an interstate truck stop. Trapped there by the pursuing police vehicles, Mr. Rhodes got out of the car and shot himself once in the head, Mr. Jackson said.

Several weapons were found in Mr. Rhodes' car, including an AR-15 assault rifle with a scope, a sawed-off shotgun, a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle, a .22-caliber handgun and dozens of rounds of ammunition, Mr. Jackson said.

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