Fugitive arrested after wild city chase

Man accused of jumping bail, fleeing on foot, hijacking agency van

Had failed to meet court date

August 13, 2002|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

A bail bondsman's attempt to collar a bail-jumping client turned into a wild 15-minute car and foot chase through the streets of West Baltimore as the man scaled fences and carjacked a city Department of Public Works van, only to collide with a pickup truck before being arrested by police.

The suspect, identified as Anthony "Scooter" Grandison Jr., 23, of the 2200 block of Ramsey St., had been under surveillance at the home of a relative in 2400 block of W. Baltimore St. about 10 a.m. by bondsman Tony Hill.

Hill, of 4 Ace Bail Bonds, said he was attempting to arrest Grandison for skipping $250,000 bail in failing to meet a June court date on a charge of attempted murder, and called additional bondsmen and city sheriff's deputies to the location to prepare for a raid on the house.

But before the authorities could get into position, Hill said, Grandison walked out the front door shortly after noon and got in his car. A chase began, and Hill said one of his bondsmen cut Grandison off at Franklintown Road and Kinsey Avenue, forcing him down a dead-end street.

Grandison fled the car, scaled a 9-foot fence, ran across nearby railroad tracks and cut down a path that led to a Department of Public Works yard on Franklintown Road.

Public works employee Jimmy Comegna, 40, said he was sitting in a van with co-worker Thomas Green, filling out time sheets, when he heard a nearby fence rattling and saw a man caught on its barbed wire, more than 12 feet above the ground. He said the man eventually came down the fence, "landing on his feet almost like a cat," before approaching the van and demanding through the window that Comegna and Green get out.

Comegna, who was at the wheel, said he drove away from the man toward the yard's front gate, where he saw an armed sheriff's deputy slowly searching the yard. Comegna said he asked him if he was looking for a man wearing jeans and a ripped shirt, and the deputy silently nodded.

Comegna said he told the deputy that the man might have hidden in a parked Lincoln Continental, and when the fugitive was not found there, he figured the man had escaped.

But the fugitive was apparently hiding under another car on the lot, and as Comegna - nearing the end of his shift - stepped out of the van, the man stepped over and pulled Green out of the passenger seat.

As the fugitive settled into the driver's seat, Comegna said, Green jumped back in the van, with part of his body lying across the man's lap, and punched him in the face. The deputy, gun drawn, yelled, "Freeze! Get out of the van!," Comegna said, adding that the man instead attempted to drive the van through a police barricade that had been set up on Franklintown Road.

But Green had his hand on the steering wheel and caused the van to swerve - missing two city police officers - and crash through the gate and down a slope to Franklintown Road. Green, clad in coveralls, fell from the van about a block away but appeared to have only minor injuries.

With a police helicopter and several officers in pursuit, the van collided with a pickup truck at the intersection of Catherine Avenue and Lombard Street, where the fugitive was arrested.

Hill said Grandison is the son of Anthony Grandison, the Baltimore drug lord on Maryland's death row for paying a hit man in 1983 to kill two federal witnesses scheduled to testify against him.

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