Judge sees red, helps catch suspect in robbery Russell was driving with children past bank

August 25, 1998|By Dail Willis DTC | Dail Willis DTC,SUN STAFF

A routine errand turned into a small adventure for a Baltimore County judge yesterday and led to the arrest of a man police said had robbed a bank a few minutes earlier.

Judge G. Darrell Russell Jr., who has been a District Court judge since 1990, was driving his two young sons and their baby sitter down York Road yesterday at lunchtime when a man ran fromBradford Federal Savings Bank at 6900 York Road.

"I see the dye explode in front of the bank. There was a red plume of smoke -- I could hear the pop," Russell said. "I say to my kids, 'That's a bank robber. We're going to try to get him -- hang on.' "

With Russell in pursuit in his Dodge Caravan, the man ran down York Road and into an alley. Russell drove down another block and turned up the alley -- and the man was there. The judge drove alongside him, and rolled down his window.

"I said, 'Stop, stop, I'm calling 911,' " Russell said yesterday. The man tried to get into Russell's vehicle but was thwarted when the judge rolled up his window.

Russell's 911 calls were not going through, he said, because in the excitement he forgot to push the "send" button. He abandoned the phone and said to 5-year-old Graham, 7-year-old Brendan and their baby sitter, "Kids, I'm going to lock the car. Stay here."

The man Russell had pursued had gone to the car behind Russell, driven by an off-duty Baltimore City police auxiliary officer named William Hatwood, who also had seen the dye pack explode and was in pursuit.

When Russell got out of his car, Hatwood was scuffling with the man, who was trying to get into Hatwood's car. Russell waded into the fray.

"I slammed the door on his legs," Russell said of his efforts to subdue the unruly man.

The fracas had drawn the attention of nearby residents, and one onlooker summoned police. Baltimore County police officers arrived and arrested the man, whose identity was not released yesterday pending filing of charges.

Police said the incident began about 12: 50 p.m. when a man approached a teller at Bradford Federal and demanded money. When the teller didn't immediately comply, the man reached for his waistband, implying he had a weapon, said county police spokesman Sgt. Kevin B. Novak.

The teller handed over an undisclosed amount of money, and the man fled with it. A second bank employee followed him out of the bank, and when the dye pack exploded, Russell and Hatwood joined the pursuit.

"When the officers handcuffed him there was thousands of dollars," said Russell. "It was all red because of the dye. The dye was all over the sidewalk."

No weapon was found when the man -- a 35-year-old resident of Northeast Baltimore -- was arrested, Novak said.

Russell said that his children weren't frightened by the experience. "They said, 'No, Dad, this was great. This was really fun.' " the judge said.

Pub Date: 8/25/98

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