Man pleads guilty in bungled burglary

November 20, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A blank videotape may not seem like much of a weapon, but it brought two robbery suspects scrambling from their hiding place in an Eastport home last April when Annapolis police convinced them it contained tear gas.

The surrender ended a two-hour stand-off after their bungled attempt to burglarize the house in the 1300 block of Colony Drive turned into a comedy of errors.

Michael A. White, 21, of the 8500 block of Pioneer Drive in Severn, pleaded guilty yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to burglary, attempted armed robbery and illegal use of a handgun in the incident.

His alleged accomplice, Charles Ford, 21, of the 1100 block of Madison St., Annapolis, is to be tried on the same charges Nov. 24, said Fred Paone, assistant state's attorney.

The incident started around midnight April 2, when neighbors called police to the house on Colony Drive.

They were met by the homeowner, William Cook Sr., who told them that two men had broken into his home, threatened him and his family and put a gun to his head, demanding to know where he kept his safe.

He had no safe.

Mr. Cook escaped after a brief struggle and was shot at once as he fled the house, Mr. Paone said.

As more officers arrived, Mr. Cook's 17-year-old daughter, Tawana, who had been held at gunpoint on the second floor, rushed out the front door, screaming for help.

She told the police later that the men had sent her out to "tell them everything was all right and to go away," Mr. Paone said.

Police entered the house and cornered White and Mr. Ford on the third floor, having been tipped off to their whereabouts by the chair they left standing under the trap-door entrance to the attic.

But the officers couldn't go up after the men, who were armed with a revolver.

Mr. Paone said that led to two hours of one-way negotiations, with the officers shouting that they knew the men were up there, and the suspects remaining mum -- but noisily walking from one location to another in the attic in search of a hiding place.

Finally, the officers improvised. They threatened to use tear gas.

Having none on hand, they threw the videotape into the attic, shouting, "Gas!"

The ruse worked. The men came down, but not before one of them dropped the .38-caliber revolver he was carrying as he tried to hand it down to the officers.

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. scheduled White's sentencing for Jan. 20.

Mr. Paone said he will recommend a 20-year sentence.

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