Bomb threat closes I-795 No explosive found in car of motorist who made claim

July 23, 1998|By Laura Sullivan and Larry Carson | Laura Sullivan and Larry Carson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

Parts of the Northwest Expressway were closed for nearly three hours during the afternoon rush hour yesterday after a man claimed he had a bomb in his car with enough explosives to blow up the roadway, state police said.

Police never found a bomb.

But traffic was slowed to a crawl for more than 10 miles from the Beltway near Roslyn Station to Reisterstown, angering commuters.

It was the second time this week that commuters on the expressway, Interstate 795, suffered a long delay.

On Monday, a tractor-trailer overturned on the northbound I-795 ramp from the inner loop of Interstate 695. The passenger was killed and the driver seriously injured.

Last night's incident began just after 4 p.m. when a motorist on I-795 north of Franklin Boulevard called police on his cell phone to report that a man driving a 1989 red Ford Fiesta was tailing him and waving a pistol at him for no apparent reason, said Capt. Greg Shipley, state police spokesman.

Shipley said Trooper Clifford Hughes, who was off duty and driving his official car, heard the call on his radio, spotted the suspect and pulled him over.

The motorist pulled to the side of the road and as Hughes talked to him, the trooper spotted an unloaded 9 mm handgun on the car seat and arrested him, Shipley said.

He said the motorist became "very agitated" and warned officers not to dig through his belongings and said he had a bomb in the car.

Police called in two bomb squads -- one from the State Fire Marshal's office and the other from the Baltimore County Police Department. A bomb-sniffing county police dog, two mechanical robots and, finally, an officer in a Kevlar protective bomb suit were unable to locate a bomb in the clothing, gym bags and trash inside the car, Shipley said.

The search lasted about two hours and all the while the suspect sat silently in the back of a state police car, Shipley said.

Last night, the State Fire Marshal's office charged Gerard O. Dugre Jr., 30, of the 300 block of Main St. in New Windsor in Carroll County with making a threat with a bomb, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

State police charged Dugre with possession of a semiautomatic handgun. He was being held at the Golden Rings barracks, Shipley said.

Shipley said authorities knew of no motive for Dugre's actions and were questioning him, but he was uncooperative.

During the incident, police closed the northbound and southbound lanes of I-795 around 4: 15 p.m. and diverted traffic to Reisterstown Road. Northbound lanes were reopened about 6: 30 p.m. and southbound ones at 6: 50 p.m., Shipley said.

For some commuters stuck in the backup, yesterday's incident coupled with Monday's was too much for one week.

Brian J. Lerman, 34, spent 45 minutes last night driving three miles on Reisterstown Road, even after he avoided I-795 when his office paged him, warning him of the delay.

"I think Owings Mills is getting worse and worse," said Lerman, who also was stuck in Monday's traffic jam.

Pennie Hinds, 41, of Owings Mills also got stuck in both traffic jam, yesterday's for about 90 minutes.

"I was out of gas, I had to turn the air conditioning off," she said from a gas station in Owings Mills. "I am glad to be where I am now."

Pub Date: 7/23/98

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