Trooper injured in police chase

Pursuit of stolen truck cab ends outside NSA site

Suspect drove in city, 2 counties

August 06, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

A man driving the stolen cab of a tractor-trailer led a caravan of police cars on a chase through Baltimore City and two Maryland counties yesterday afternoon, ramming vehicles and injuring a state trooper before stopping just outside the National Security Agency headquarters near Fort Meade, state police said.

The injured state trooper, Cpl. Mark Bailey, and the suspect were flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where both were treated and released, state police said. None of the other drivers involved in collisions was injured.

"Given the circumstances and how it played out, we were fortunate more vehicles weren't involved and more citizens were not victims," said Sgt. Thornnie Rouse of the Maryland State Police.

The suspect, too, was lucky. Given the nation's heightened security alert, guards at NSA were prepared to take whatever action was necessary to stop the vehicle, police said.

Rouse would identify the suspect last night only as a Baltimore man in his mid-30s. The man faces a number of charges, including attempted second-degree murder, felony theft, possessing a stolen vehicle, seven counts of first-degree assault, possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest, Rouse said.

Although the chase ended at the gates of the super-secret spy agency, Rouse said, "there was nothing in the vehicle that indicated terrorism" was a motive.

The chase, which crossed Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and at times reached speeds topping 70 mph, apparently began after members of a regional auto-theft task force spotted stolen tags on the truck cab and staked it out yesterday, according to Baltimore County and state police.

Officer Shawn Vinson, a Baltimore County police spokesman, said officers saw a man get into the truck and drive off about 1 p.m. Rouse said he believes the chase began in the city, though he was unable to provide specifics about the location. City police cruisers then began pursuit, flipping on their lights and sirens.

At one point, a Baltimore police officer attempted to stop the vehicle at Patapsco Avenue and 10th Street but was nearly struck when the truck barreled past her.

The driver led officers out of the city and onto the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and then took a circuitous route from the Baltimore Beltway to Interstate 95 south to Interstate 195 and to U.S. 1. The driver then went around a business park, back onto U.S. 1, back onto the Beltway and, finally, onto the parkway again, Rouse said.

On the parkway, he sideswiped a state police car, a black BMW and a tractor-trailer before ramming the same police cruiser from behind, injuring the trooper inside.

The driver then tried to take an employees-only ramp to NSA before rolling to a stop near a gate, staffed by armed guards.

NSA, a federal government agency that decodes foreign intelligence and houses highly classified information, was surrounded by armed security forces who were "manning their posts and aware [the chase] was taking place," Rouse said. "They were going to take whatever action it took to stop the truck, given the code orange level."

In all, a state police helicopter and more than 20 marked and unmarked police cars from various jurisdictions were involved in the operation, which ended at 1:57 p.m. when the man was taken into custody by state police, Rouse said.

"It could have been a whole lot worse," he said.

Sun staff writers Julie Bykowicz and Childs Walker contributed to this article.

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