Officials at a federal prison in Alabama mistakenly released a man who should have been sent to Maryland this past weekend to begin serving a sentence for a 1992 attack on an elderly woman, but quick-thinking Anne Arundel County and Richmond police captured the man in Virginia.
Anne Arundel police blamed a paperwork error by federal prison authorities for the improper release of Shawn Thomas McDonnell, who had been serving time on charges related to two bank robberies in Baltimore County.
McDonnell was convicted in Anne Arundel Circuit Court in 1993 of armed robbery, breaking and entering and attempted murder in a 1992 incident at the Crofton T.C.B.Y. store when an elderly woman was struck on the head with a rock.
After being sentenced to 30 years in a Maryland prison, McDonnell was transferred to the federal prison in Alabama to serve his federal sentence on bank robbery charges first.
On Friday, Anne Arundel police received a tip from the FBI that McDonnell was being released, and further investigation revealed the error. But before detaining papers could be forwarded to Alabama, U.S. authorities put him on a bus to Washington, D.C.
On a hunch that McDonnell was aware of the mistake and might be picked up by a friend or family member before he reached Washington, Anne Arundel police went to Richmond, Va., the last bus stop before Washington.
Realizing they'd be late, Anne Arundel police notified Richmond police. Both arrived about the same time, and McDonnell was apprehended after Anne Arundel police identified a car in the parking lot as one that belonged to his wife, Melonie McDonnell.