Man, 23, sought in killings of 2 deputies

Fatal shootings at home in Prince George's County

August 31, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Police officers along the East Coast were searching last night for a 23-year-old Adelphi man who authorities say fatally shot two Prince George's County deputy sheriffs Thursday night as they tried to remove him from his parents' home for psychiatric care.

James Logan, who has a history of mental illness, is being sought in the shooting deaths of deputies Elizabeth L. Magruder, 30, of Clinton and James V. Arnaud, 53, of North Beach.

Police say Logan burst from a bedroom and fired a handgun at the two deputies after they tried to persuade him to come out. Logan fled, and county police charged him yesterday with two counts of first-degree murder.

"It seems [the deputies] were caught completely by surprise," said Capt. Andrew Ellis, a county police spokesman. "It was a quick and violent episode."

As the deputies' families and fellow officers mourned the first line-of-duty deaths in the history of the county sheriff's office, police expanded their search for Logan from northern Prince George's County to the Baltimore-Washington area and beyond.

"When an officer falls, information is disseminated to every agency you can possibly imagine," said county Police Cpl. Robert Clark.

Police were looking for an older burgundy Dodge Caravan and an older gray or white Ford LTD, either of which Logan could be driving, said Officer Debbi Sabel.

Earlier in Beltsville, police recovered a silver Dodge Charger - the vehicle they believe Logan drove from the crime scene.

`Armed and dangerous'

Police had not found the handgun used in the shootings and described Logan as "armed and extremely dangerous."

The shooting occurred at the Adelphi home of James and Karen Logan. The suspect, who is married, had been staying there for several weeks, authorities said.

Logan's wife sought a mental health warrant because he was behaving erratically, a police source told the Associated Press. Logan has a history of mental and emotional problems and violent behavior, the source said.

Logan's parents invited the deputies into their one-story red-brick home in the 9300 block of Lynmont Drive, but their son first ran to the basement, then hid in a bedroom, police said.

"The deputies attempted to talk him out of the room, when defendant Logan opened the door and fired shots at them," according to a statement of charges filed early yesterday.

Court records show that Logan has a September trial date for nine drug possession and distribution charges. He was found guilty in November 1999 of several theft charges that appear to have stemmed from writing bad checks; he received a two-year suspended sentence.

A young man, described as an acquaintance of Logan's, was in the house at the time of the shooting, police said. Officers found him early yesterday morning, and he was cooperating with the investigation, Ellis said.

Calls for help

The wounded Magruder requested backup at 9:34 p.m. Logan's father called police at 9:39 p.m. to report that both deputies had been shot.

Both deputies were struck in the upper body, though police declined to say where and how many times. Arnaud died at the scene. Magruder died a short time later at Prince George's Hospital Center.

Residents in the tree-lined neighborhood near the University of Maryland, College Park said they heard several shots about 9:30 p.m. and soon after heard the overhead hum of police helicopters.

Outside the sheriff's headquarters in Largo yesterday, a marked Jeep Cherokee draped in black was parked as a memorial to the deputies.

Deputy Sheriff Randall Cooper, stationed outside Magruder's house on Butterfield Court yesterday, said the department was devastated.

"We've never had a death in the line of duty. Now we have two at once," Cooper said. "You always know it's a possibility, but until it hits home. ... "

Arnaud, who would have turned 54 today, served 20 years in the Army and completed two tours of duty in Vietnam, said the director of Lee's Funeral Home, Gary Goff, who spoke yesterday with Arnaud's family. He had been a sheriff's deputy for 13 years and had earned the rank of corporal.

Richard Penfield, who owns a floral and gift shop in North Beach, remembers Arnaud as one of his best customers - regularly buying orchids for his wife. Now the florist is working on the flower arrangements for Arnaud's funeral Tuesday.

Penfield described Arnaud as a "gentle giant."

"He comes in with that uniform on and he looks real tough," Penfield said. "He always wore his bulletproof vest, and I always knocked on it and said, `Please be safe.'"

A mother, `all smiles'

Magruder, whose family is from Lima, Peru, has a 3-year-old son, county police said.

"She's all smiles when she goes by," said neighbor Francis Blidi, 50, who learned of Magruder's death on the television news yesterday morning. "I grabbed my wife, and said, `Look, look, it's shocking.'"

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