Police Still Probe Suicide Of Driver Who Fled Police

October 08, 1991|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff writer

Police are still investigating the suicide of a 26-year-old Glen Burnie man who led officers on a 40-minute, high-speed chase through five counties Sunday.

Michael Brenden Rhodes Jr., a truck driver for Scalea's Airport Service near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, died of a gunshot wound to the head Sunday afternoon at the Shock Trauma Center at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Investigators haven't determined a motive for the chase that started at BWI Commerce Park in Hanover. County police were called to theindustrial center after shots were fired into a tractor-trailer at CCX Express Services, Rhodes' previous employer.

As officers checked a Chevrolet Monte Carlo that belonged to Rhodes' father, parked nearby in Scalea's parking lot, Rhodes drove by in a 1977 Chevrolet Nova, county police said. Officers pursued the car, but Rhodes sped alongDorsey Road and northbound Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard before heading north on Interstate 97 to the Baltimore Beltway.

As Rhodes exited at northbound Ritchie Highway, he fired a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun and narrowly missed hitting Trooper 1st Class Charles Lewis, who had joined the chase.

Rhodes fired the shotgun at troopers severaltimes as he sped along Interstate 70 toward Frederick County, state police said. Police exchanged gunfire with Rhodes, firing 11 shots ashe broke through a barricade at the Monocacy River on westbound I-70.

Cornered at the I-70 Truck Stop in Frederick, Rhodes sat in his car and shot himself in the head with a .22-caliber handgun, police said.

Spokesman Chuck Jackson said state police were checking the ownership of weapons seized from Rhodes' car -- an assault rifle with scope, 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun, .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle, .22-caliber handgun and dozens of rounds of ammunition. Police removed37 spent shells from the car, Jackson said.

Rhodes, who lived with his parents in the first block of Forestdale Avenue, used to work for a gunsmith and collected guns, a neighbor, Earl Fletcher, said.

Fletcher said he last spoke to Rhodes Saturday night.

Scalea International Services had hired Rhodes to drive a 48-foot tractor-trailer to New York by Sunday. When he failed to make the delivery, the truck was reported missing to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The tractor-trailer, which may contain weapons, was last seen on the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Saturday and is still missing, bureau Assistant Special Agent Stanley Zimmerman said.

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