Suspect arrested in Oct. hit-run

5 youths were injured when struck by car

Officer was run over last month

January 03, 2004|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police announced yesterday the arrest of a man who is charged with striking five West Baltimore Middle School children with a car in October, then fleeing the scene.

Ronald Jay Merchant, 24, of the first block of S. Wickham Road in Baltimore has been charged with several counts of first- and second-degree assault, and with driving without a license and related offenses, said Deputy Maj. Paul B. Sheppard.

Merchant, who has also been charged with running over an officer with a car in December during a police chase, is being held in the city's Central Booking and Intake Facility in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Police said Merchant has confessed in both incidents.

On Dec. 2, Officer Paul Thompson, 36, of the Southern District, who joined the force in 1998, suffered a broken ankle and head lacerations when he was struck by a Ford Explorer. Thompson and other officers were on foot in the 3500 block of Clarenell Road when they attempted to stop the sport utility vehicle.

Authorities said police had tried to pull over the Ford Explorer earlier for a traffic violation in the 2600 block of Waterview Ave., but the SUV crashed into a patrol car and drove away.

Thompson was released from Maryland Shock Trauma Center two days later. Merchant was arrested shortly after the incident and was released on $100,000 bail.

At the time, police were still investigating the Oct. 22 hit-and-run accident, which occurred about 4 p.m. on Hillwell Road and injured Jasmine Halstead, 12; Alisha Crank, 12; Del'shay Evans, 12; Armecia Ford, 13; and Shaquana Carson, whose age was unknown.

Police said the accident occurred just after classes had ended for the day at West Baltimore Middle School. The girls were crossing the street when a 1992 Nissan Sentra rounded North Bend Road and ran into them.

According to a police report, Jasmine suffered the most serious injury. Patrol Officer Terry L. Miller, who investigated the hit-and-run, said she suffered a head injury that required surgery and that she will require additional surgery.

Alisha and Del'shay suffered broken ankles, and Armecia and Shaquana suffered minor injuries.

Merchant was arrested Wednesday and charged in the hit-and-run accident.

"It was a great investigation on Officer Miller's part," Sheppard said yesterday at police headquarters.

"He's a patrol officer who was handed a very difficult hit-and-run investigation. He did a lot of hard work and put in a lot of hard hours."

Sheppard said police do not suspect that alcohol was involved in either accident.

He said Merchant has written an apology letter to the girls who were injured.

"We feel good about the apology letter," Sheppard said. "One of the little girls said she was scared he was going to come back to get her."

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