"Happy birthday Terrrrr-rance -- Happy birthday to you."
Terrance Perry, slumped over the hood of a police car with his hands cuffed behind his back, was not enjoying his party. Not at 6 a.m. Not while standing out on the street in his stocking feet in the 2300 block of Druid Hill Avenue as passing motorists gawked at him. Not even after Baltimore County Police Detective Robert J. Castagnetti began to sing him a special birthday greeting.
Perry -- who was wanted for assault with the intent to murder -- had just been pulled roughly from his hiding place beneath a sofa in the living room of an apartment in a two-story row house where he had been staying.
He thus became one of the 258 people arrested during a 10-week operation in the Baltimore-Washington area in which U.S. marshals teamed up with state and local police and sheriffs offices to round up felons who had jumped bail, escaped or were still on the street committing crimes. As of last night, 95 percent of those arrested were still in jail.
Dubbed "Operation Sunrise," similar operations were also carried out in Miami, New York, New Jersey and Boston that resulted in the arrest of an additional 1,237 criminals.
Law enforcement officials yesterday held a news conference to announce the results of the local effort and to congratulate themselves on what they felt was a job well done.
"We were able to get a lot of dangerous people, guns and drugs off the streets," said James Aluisi, who heads the Prince George's Sheriff's office. Of the 258 fugitives arrested in the Baltimore-Washington area, 184 were wanted on state charges -- including 23 for murder -- and 74 were wanted on federal charges.
The purpose of the operation was to identify career criminals who had committed at least three dangerous felonies involving violence or the use of a firearm and who were still out on the street, according to Inspector James E. Krause, the U.S. marshal who supervised the local operation.
"Studies have shown that about 6 percent of the criminals commit about 70 percent of the crimes," Mr. Krause said. "We targeted these bad guys."
Local law enforcement officials forwarded to Inspector Krause more than 2,600 cases -- escapees or defendants who had skipped bail -- as well as people wanted for crimes but not yet apprehended. This list was winnowed to 363 individuals who were targeted for arrest.
The Baltimore operation consisted of 10 two-man teams, each consisting of a deputy U.S. marshal and a local law enforcement officer. In keeping with the name of the operation, the marshals scheduled their arrests early in the morning. They usually began knocking on doors at 5 a.m.
On Oct. 4, Terrance Perry's birthday, marshals had already picked up one other fugitive -- a man named Willie Burnett who came into their hands by chance.
The marshals had been looking another man who they thought was living in house in the 500 block of 21 1/2 Street. Six marshals entered the house. They did not find their man but they did notice a sawed-off shotgun under a mattress. They asked two men who had been in the house for identification. One of them, Burnett, was wanted for violating his probation.
"You're history," Inspector Krause said as the patrol wagon door slammed shut and Burnett was taken downtown for booking.
From 21 1/2 Street, the police caravan headed toward Druid Hill Avenue in search of Perry.
Although the marshals had information that Perry was in the house, at first they could not find him. They looked in all the closets, searched the basement and the other places -- behind refrigerators and under piles of clothes -- without result.
Deputy Marshal Andrew Larson walked around the front room of the house studying the three pieces of furniture. He lifted up the corner of a couch and saw a man's leg. There was some cursing, then Deputy Marshal Larson had Perry subdued and handcuffed.
Several minutes later, Perry was outside in the chilly pre-dawn waiting for the patrol wagon to take him to the station house for booking.
He mumbled an expletive to the detective.
"That's OK, Terry, you can say whatever you want. It's your birthday," responded Detective Castagnetti. "You're going to jail, and I am not."