Ammo chase ends in park with crash

June 16, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

A car that was being tailed by Baltimore police and federal agents after two of its occupants purchased high-caliber ammunition from a Parkville gun shop rammed head-on into a truck in Druid Hill Park yesterday, injuring two municipal employees, police said.

Just before the accident, one of the occupants threw a handgun and ammunition out of a car window as authorities closed in, police said. A motorist grabbed the weapon and drove off, police said.

Sam Ringgold, a city police spokesman, said two men entered the Valley Gun Shop in the 7700 block of Harford Road about 2:05 p.m. and asked about buying some .50-caliber ammunition. Undercover city police officers and agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms happened to be in the store doing legwork for a joint investigation into the availability of guns on the street, Mr. Ringgold said.

"When the two men started asking about .50-caliber ammunition, it got the investigators' attention," he said. "That's very high-caliber ammunition."

Patrick Loughlin, a manager at the gun shop, said the ammunition hit the market recently and is typically sold for the Israeli-made Desert Eagle semiautomatic pistol, which he described as "a very big, very heavy, bragging toy."

"I don't have people standing in line for it. It's a very specialized thing that only certain people will go for . . . but they make the gun, so we carry the ammo," Mr. Loughlin said.

The two men purchased about $180 worth of ammunition and headed out to a 1990 Ford Thunderbird in which a woman was waiting, police and ATF agents said. The three drove off and police and ATF agents followed them in a car, Mr. Ringgold said.

Police said the Thunderbird headed into the city on Northern Parkway, then took Interstate 83 south to Druid Park Lake Drive. As the car reached the southern edge of Druid Hill Park, authorities decided to pull it over for an unspecified violation, Mr. Ringgold said.

At a red light near Auchentoroly Terrace, the authorities got out of their vehicle and approached the car, but one of the occupants threw out the gun and some of the .50-caliber ammunition and the driver hit the accelerator, Mr. Ringgold said.

As the authorities took up the chase, they noticed that "a van stopped, somebody hopped out and grabbed the gun. Someone apparently saw it as their opportunity to get a weapon," Mr. Ringgold said.

The car headed into the park and had gone only a short distance when it collided head-on with a city Forestry Department truck in the 3100 block of Swan Drive, police said.

The two municipal workers in the truck were identified as William Smith, 56, of the 800 block of Berry St., and Edwin Walker, 30, of the 4100 block of Falls Road. Both were taken to University of Maryland Medical Center, where they were listed in good condition with neck and back injuries, police said.

The driver of the car was identified as Warren O. Davis, 24, of the 2800 block of W. North Ave. He was being treated last night for a broken leg at University.

The others in the car, identified as Eugene Rowlett, 34, of the 1600 block of Winford Road, and Erica M. Williams, 28, of the 4500 block of Westchester Road, were treated and released to the custody of federal agents.

Charges were pending last night. Investigators said they also seized ammunition for a .357-caliber Magnum and a 10-mm handgun from the car after the crash.

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