Man kills self with gun from police car

Rising Sun resident got weapon from cruiser he stole after his arrest

November 05, 2003|By Amanda Angel | Amanda Angel,SUN STAFF

A Rising Sun man killed himself Monday night with a shotgun taken from the trunk of a police cruiser he had stolen hours earlier, police said.

Mark R. Haas, 24, of the 600 block of Rising Sun Road, who had been handcuffed and locked in the back seat of the 2000 Ford Crown Victoria cruiser, stole the car and drove around Maryland and Pennsylvania for four hours after Port Deposit Police Chief Mark L. Tomlin arrested him and Lee M. Nichols, 21, of Conowingo and put them in the car.

"If I hadn't been there, I never would have believed it," Tomlin said. "I did 24 years in Baltimore, and I've never seen anything like it."

Haas and Nichols were on Main Street in Port Deposit about 7 p.m. creating a disturbance when Tomlin, who was off duty and eating dinner nearby, first approached them, authorities said. Tomlin said Haas pulled a handgun from his waistband and threw it onto the seat of a 1993 Ford Mustang. A 20-minute struggle ensued when Tomlin started to arrest the two, and a backup officer arrived in the cruiser to help subdue them. Eventually, Haas and Nichols were secured in the back of the police car, Tomlin said.

Tomlin said that about 15 seconds after he stepped away from the running police car with Haas and Nichols handcuffed and locked in the back seat, Haas was able to bring his handcuffed hands from behind his back and crawl into the driver's seat of the car.

Tomlin said the cruiser was the only one of the Port Deposit fleet that does not have a screen separating the front and back seats.

The keys to the handcuffs and the trunk, where a shotgun was stored, were attached to the ignition key.

After Haas drove away, Tomlin was able to call him using a police cell phone left in the cruiser. Tomlin said he engaged the suspect in what he called a "personal" conversation that lasted an hour and 45 minutes.

"At one point I thought I was establishing a decent rapport with him," Tomlin said.

Haas' girlfriend called police about 11 p.m. to report that Haas was at her house in the 300 block of Ryan Drive in Rising Sun and had threatened suicide, state police said.

Tomlin arrived at the scene and continued to talk with Haas. He said Haas was outside the house with his girlfriend, trying to persuade police to shoot him.

Haas eventually shot himself and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

"This was a profoundly disturbed young man," Tomlin said of Haas. "He was so despondent and negative about everything."

Nichols was found asleep in the police cruiser after Haas' death, Tomlin said. He was arrested and charged with second-degree assault and other counts, Tomlin said. He was later released on bail.

The handgun that Haas had was reported stolen from a Pennsylvania residence Oct. 29. Police found no bullets in the gun.

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