Odenton man charged with arson, robbery, battling police officer


October 26, 2006|By Nia-Malika Henderson

An Odenton man locked his family out of his house, set it on fire, then later rammed his truck into a parked car, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday.

James M. Morris, 37, was "acting strange and violent" and allegedly cut off his 6-year-old niece's hair Monday afternoon in his Edwards Drive home, said Lt. David Waltemeyer, a county police spokesman.

That prompted his father to take the girl and her 7-year-old brother outside and dial 911, but James P. Morris said his son grabbed the phone, broke it and locked them out of the house.

The senior Morris took the children to the nearby county Police Department's Western District station about 5 p.m. to seek help.

About the same time, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department received a call that Morris' home was on fire. When firefighters arrived, fire was coming from the windows and the attic of the two-story home. The fire caused $175,000 in damage, and the home is a total loss, said Lt. Frank Fennell, a county fire department spokesman.

Investigators found a gasoline can on the site and determined that it was used to set the blaze, Waltemeyer said.

Morris had fled in his Ford pickup, and three hours later turned up in the parking lot of an office building on Defense Highway in Crofton, Waltemeyer said. A woman told police that she saw Morris drive up, park next to her for a few minutes, then pull away for a short distance and hit the gas, slamming into the passenger side of her car.

She was not injured, and her description of the pickup driver led police to Morris at a Citgo gas station in Crownsville. Morris fought with an officer and was subdued with pepper spray, Waltemeyer said. Morris is charged with arson, attempted robbery, attempting to remove a police officer's firearm and destruction of property. He was ordered held without bail at the county detention center.

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