Man accused of stealing cane from blind man and beating him

May 20, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

A 47-year-old Ellicott City man was arrested Wednesday afternoon, accused of stealing a $75 cane from a blind man, repeatedly kicking him and beating him with his own cane on a bus outside Columbia Mall, Howard County police said.

James Arthur Mitchell of the 8600 block of Town and Country Blvd. was charged with resisting arrest, assault with intent to commit robbery, theft, robbery and two counts of assault, police said. He was being held yesterday on $50,000 bond at the Howard County Detention Center.

The victim, John Westley Gaither, 32, who has a post office box address in Highland, was taken to Howard County General Hospital, police said. He was treated and released. Police didn't list the injuries for Mr. Gaither, who is developmentally handicapped and blind.

"From all indications it was totally unprovoked," said Sgt. Steven E. Keller, a county police spokesman.

The attack occurred about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday at a bus stop on the west lot of mall, where witnesses reported one man began beating another man on a bus.

When an officer responded to the call, apparently reported by the bus driver, the officer was met by mall security officers and witnesses. The witnesses told the officer that the assailant took Mr. Gaither's white National Federation of the Blind cane, beat him in the back with his cane and kicked him several times.

"When the officer approached the suspect [on the bus], he said, 'I'm going to kill you' and began to wave the cane at the officer," Sergeant Keller said.

The officer tried unsuccessfully to calm the suspect, Sergeant Keller said. Because of the man's "violent nature" the officer pulled out his own baton and called for assistance.

"The suspect appeared to be in a rage," Sergeant Keller said, adding that the officer was struck several times with the cane on his left arm and hand before he was able to knock the cane out of the man's hand, Sergeant Keller said.

Four or five other officers arrived to help subdue the man, Sergeant Keller said. As the officers pulled the man off the bus, he continued to resist arrest, he said.

"They finally got him on the ground and handcuffed him," Sergeant Keller said. The man wasn't injured during the arrest, ,, he said.

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