Oops! Police let suspect caught by residents flee

April 08, 1994|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Sun Staff Writer

First the neighborhood vigilantes caught him. Then the Baltimore police lost him. Then the police found him.

That's the wild tale of Brian Wendell Vandiver, who is accused of robbing a couple of their cash and car keys in West Baltimore Wednesday night. He was beaten at the scene by an angry crowd of residents responding to calls for help.

After the beating -- which included several raps with a hammer -- Mr. Vandiver was taken to Bon Secours Hospital for treatment of head wounds and was left unguarded by city police officers.

Doctors discharged him four hours later, after a woman claiming to be his wife picked him up, said police spokesman Doug Price.

Alerted by a reporter yesterday that Mr. Vandiver had left the hospital, embarrassed police launched a citywide search for him, Mr. Price said.

"We didn't know he was gone," Mr. Price said. "We thought he was in serious, presumed critical, condition. Flight was not a concern."

Police got their second chance yesterday afternoon after Mr. Vandiver showed up at the Johns Hopkins Hospital emergency room seeking further medical treatment for head wounds.

Shortly after he arrived, police learned from Mr. Vandiver's relatives that he was at Hopkins hospital, and an officer from the Western District was dispatched to guard the emergency room door.

After Mr. Vandiver was treated and released at 4 p.m., he was taken to the precinct and booked on assault and robbery charges, police said.

Mr. Vandiver is accused of robbing Effrim Guice of Hampton, Va., and Nicole Barber of Baltimore of cash, car keys and Mr. Guice's driver's license in the 1900 block of Edmondson Ave.

During a struggle, Mr. Guice was grazed in the head by a bullet fired by Mr. Vandiver, police said.

As Mr. Guice cried for help, residents ran from their houses and attacked Mr. Vandiver.

Yesterday, residents criticized the constant drug dealing that has shaken their neighborhood. Some said vigilante incidents could happen again because many neighbors are fed up with crime.

"There is too much violence, and people hang on the corners all day long," said Jerome Raymond, 35, of the 600 block of Pulaski St.

"I think he [the suspect] got what he deserved," Mr. Raymond said. "He had no business taking that car. People are really getting tired of it, and they might start taking things into their own hands more often, but I hope not. Somebody might get hurt."

"I don't even go in the street," said Alberta Harris, who has lived in the 700 block of Payson St. since 1961 and said she has witnessed the neighborhood's decline. "I am tired of drugs, fighting and shooting and carrying on; anybody would get tired of that."

No assault charges were pending against the people who attacked Mr. Vandiver, police said.

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