Arundel man shot by officer is charged in series of crimes Suspect in carjacking had escaped from hospital

November 18, 1997|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A carjacking suspect linked to a series of crimes before he was shot by an Anne Arundel County officer Friday had been arrested in a similar case two weeks earlier -- only to escape when taken for evaluation to the Crownsville Hospital Center.

Authorities said Shawn A. Chowanetz, 30, escaped Thursday, shortly after his arrival at the mental institution, when he asked to use the bathroom and then kicked out a window and fled.

Chowanetz, who police said had addresses in Severna Park and more recently in the 8200 block of Ritchie Highway in Pasadena, was listed in good condition yesterday at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. He is under treatment for a gunshot wound to the side.

Police said a suspect was driving a stolen car when he was stopped Friday afternoon near Oakwood Road and Hospital Drive by Officer Bryan Malar. Police say the man abandoned the vehicle and ran to the North Arundel Hospital parking lot, where he tried to take a car from a motorist.

Malar ordered the man to lie on the ground, and shot him when he reached toward his pocket, police said.

In an earlier incident, the man allegedly hijacked an elderly Howard County man's 1992 Buick at gunpoint at the Elkridge Corners Shopping Center Nov. 1, police said. On Nov. 2, Anne Arundel police Officer Anthony Tortorici chased a speeding 1992 Buick along Ritchie Highway from Severna Park to Pasadena, and captured the driver when he stopped the car and tried to run away.

Chowanetz was arrested and was held initially on $125,000 bail. On Nov. 3, Glen Burnie District Judge Vincent Mulieri ordered that Chowanetz undergo psychiatric evaluation.

According to Robin Harding, facility administrator at the county's detention center, a forensic screener from the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene evaluated Chowanetz at the jail, but a copy of that report was not available.

On Wednesday, records show, Mulieri asked for a doctor's evaluation. The next day, Chowanetz was taken to the medical building at Crownsville Hospital Center, where he asked to use the bathroom, kicked out a window and escaped, according to court records.

On Friday, a suspect drove to the entrance of a Wal-Mart store in the 7900 block of Crain Highway shortly before 10 a.m. and asked customer John Mack for help, according to court records.

When Mack walked over to the car -- a white Mercury Topaz that would be reported stolen a few hours later -- the man demanded money and threatened to shoot him, court documents say. Mack, fearing his assailant had a gun, gave the man $100.

The man then allegedly demanded Mack's credit cards, but Mack refused and the man fled. Mack later identified Chowanetz in a photo lineup, police said.

The owner of the Mercury Topaz had reported the car missing about 1: 30 p.m. Friday, police said. Police did not say how the suspect got the car, however. Chowanetz is not charged with stealing it.

Later that day, Anne Arundel police received a report from

Baltimore police that they had recovered the Mercury, but that another car, a black 1991 Chevrolet Camaro, had been stolen.

Just after 3 p.m., Malar saw a Camaro hit a traffic island on Oakwood Road near Hospital Drive.The driver matched Chowanetz's description, police said.

According to court documents, Malar pulled behind the Camaro and ordered the driver out of the car. He got out, started walking to the rear of the car, then ran toward the Empire Medical Building in the 200 block of Hospital Drive.

Malar chased the man, who ran to a Chevrolet that was about to leave the parking lot. He opened the driver's door and began to pull the driver, 65-year old James Bolton, from the car, according to court records.

Malar drew his pistol and ordered the man to the ground, but the man reached for his pocket and Malar fired, according to court documents.

Chowanetz was charged with armed robbery and use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime in connection with the robbery on Crain Highway. He also was charged with 12 traffic violations, carjacking, second-degree assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and obstructing and hindering a police officer.

According to court documents, Chowanetz also is awaiting trial on assault, theft and battery charges lodged in March. He is accused of biting a woman after a date, then stealing her car.

Pub Date: 11/18/97

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