Gun found on man in custody, police say Shoplifting suspect was held for hours before discovery

March 27, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

County police want to know how a suspect in a shoplifting case could have had a loaded semiautomatic handgun in his possession at the county Detention Center more than 12 hours after he was arrested, by which time police officers should have searched him at least twice, police say.

Lt. Jeff Kelly, a police spokesman, said yesterday that the department's internal affairs division has targeted at least one officer, whom he could not identify, in its investigation.

Andrew J. Hurajt III, 23, of the first block of Melrob Court in Annapolis was arrested just before 4 p.m. Sunday at Parole Plaza in Annapolis and taken to the Southern District station in Edgewater, where he was held for several hours, then taken before a District Court commissioner for an initial hearing, Kelly said.

Hurajt was sent to the Detention Center, where he arrived before 5 a.m., according to Richard Baker, the superintendent. The gun was discovered at midmorning, shortly before a bail review hearing.

"We need to find out how this happened," Kelly said.

According to court documents, Cpl. Gregory Leonard Lane arrested Hurajt in the attempted theft of a video camera from the Sears store at Parole Plaza and took him to the Southern District station.

Kelly said police procedure requires officers to search suspects after making arrests.

The policy is that before a suspect is taken anywhere, "whoever is doing the transportation is directed to conduct a search," Kelly said.

When suspects are taken to district stations for processing, officers usually search them again for "weapons or contraband," he said.

"There is a physical count of whatever this person brought in with him or her," Kelly said, adding that officers commonly take the suspect's "belt, shoelaces, maybe even a wallet."

Hurajt was taken by another officer to the District Court commissioner's office in Annapolis, then by protection officers from Wackenhut Corp., a company under county contract to transport inmates, to the Detention Center, Kelly said.

Patrick Cannan, a spokesman for Wackenhut Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., declined to comment on the specifics of Monday's incident but said it was the first time a weapon had been found on a detainee his company's employees had transported. He said it is company procedure for employees to search suspects before transporting them.

Cannan said his company, which has an office in Catonsville, has been providing Anne Arundel County inmate transportation services for more than seven years and has a similar contract with Baltimore County.

Detention Center officials would not say where or how the weapon was discovered.

"Nobody was threatened with it," said Terry Kakolis, an assistant facility administrator. "The weapon was never revealed from its hiding place."

Kakolis said it was the first time a weapon had been discovered on an inmate at a county jail.

Hurajt was charged with possession of a concealed deadly weapon. He was released Tuesday on $2,500 bond.

Pamela Hurajt, the suspect's stepmother, said she had not seen him since his release and that she had decided to kick him out of her Annapolis apartment, where he had lived since October. She said her stepson, who was unemployed, moved from his hometown, Youngstown, Ohio, to live with her and his father.

She said she did not know if he carried handguns.

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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