Up to 200 law enforcement officers chased down dozens of leads yesterday in a sweeping search for the suspect in the killing of a Maryland state trooper, and authorities said they believe he remains in the Washington area.
Montgomery County's top prosecutor said Kofi Apea Orleans-Lindsay, 23, the man charged in a warrant in the shooting, would have been in jail since last year if a judge had sentenced him to a recommended prison term for drug dealing.
"It's frustrating," said State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler. "You apprehend these guys. You put together incredible cases, and then they don't get held accountable."
Trooper Edward M. Toatley, 37, was killed while conducting an undercover drug deal in Northeast Washington. Authorities say the trooper was preparing to buy drugs for $3,000 from a man when he was shot in the right side of the head.
The manhunt included 60 FBI agents and Baltimore police who helped track leads. A reward offered in the case has climbed to $56,000.
"I would say that we've made it very uncomfortable for him," said Assistant Chief William P. McManus of the Metropolitan (D.C.) Police Department, explaining that officers have questioned the suspect's family and searched the homes of friends.
Col. David B. Mitchell, Maryland State Police superintendent, visited Washington yesterday to get a report on behalf of the slain trooper's family. Toatley's wife, Inez, "is looking for justice," he said.
Toatley, who lived in Halethorpe in Baltimore County with his wife and three children, was part of an FBI-led Safe Streets Task Force targeting drug dealing along the Prince George's County-Washington line. He was deputized as a federal agent and had been working in the area for three months infiltrating a violent drug gang.
Police said he met a dealer Monday night in his undercover sport utility vehicle, which was equipped with a hidden microphone and video camera, and handed the man $3,000 for a quarter-kilogram of cocaine. Police said the man left to retrieve the drugs, returned five minutes later and shot Toatley in the right side of the head.
The man escaped before backup officers in a nearby surveillance van could get to the car. The contents of the tapes have not been disclosed, and police reiterated statements made Tuesday that they believe Toatley was a victim of a robbery and had not been discovered to be an undercover officer. Police said he had made deals with the same man before.
Toatley was considered one of the state's most experienced undercover operatives and was known for his ability to blend into drug groups, large and small.
His shooting has frightened undercover officers who deal daily with dangerous drug dealers and constantly worry that their cover might be blown or they might become entangled in a deadly dispute.
"We want to understand this," one federal agent said yesterday. "But sometimes you can't understand the irrational."
Orleans-Lindsay is charged in a warrant with first-degree murder, a capital offense because it involves the death of a police officer. Officials said they are considering filing federal charges.
The extensive search for Orleans-Lindsay was being coordinated out of the 5th Police District station in Northeast Washington.
Up to 200 officers from Washington, the FBI and Prince George's County were involved. Ten teams of three law enforcement officers were checking telephone tips.
"It would be very difficult for this man to leave the D.C. area," Mitchell said, noting the flood of officers in the area.
On Tuesday, police said the search extended into Baltimore, because the suspect had acquaintances in the city. Investigators said those were checked with no result.
Orleans-Lindsay's neighbors in Silver Spring said he had been living in the basement of his mother's brick split-level home on Reading Road in a well-established development.
The family moved in about five years ago, but several neighbors said they seldom saw the young man.
Once in a while, Orleans-Lindsay would wave as he climbed into a new silver Mercedes-Benz, said a neighbor across the street. John P. Murphy, 52, a retired car mechanic, said the man "kept a low profile. I've seen him outside before, and said hello, but not much more."
Police said that the man who met the trooper Monday night drove a Mercedes to the pre-arranged meeting and that they seized the car after the shooting.
The suspect's father, John K. Orleans-Lindsay, declined to comment yesterday. The Rockville resident said his former wife left him when his son was age 11, and he has had little to do with him since.
Other relatives could not be reached yesterday.
Orleans-Lindsay had been arrested in 1998 in Montgomery County. He was charged with one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
A police officer said he saw Orleans-Lindsay take drugs from a hiding place under leaves near an apartment building on East University Boulevard in Silver Spring, near the Prince George's County line.