Crime Watch

September 25, 2007

Carroll man, 29, held after chase, standoff

A Carroll County man suspected of leading police from several jurisdictions on a chase Saturday was arrested Sunday night and charged yesterday with numerous traffic violations and criminal offenses, Maryland State Police said.

Melville P. Mason, 29, of Sykesville was charged with 16 criminal counts, including drug distribution and assault with intent to murder, according to court documents. He was being held without bail pending a bail review hearing scheduled for today.

Police said they arrested Mason after a standoff at his grandmother's house on Arrington Road in Sykesville that lasted several hours and ended with tear gas being fired through the windows.

State police said Mason will be turned over to police in Baltimore, where the chase began, to face charges.

On Saturday night, authorities said, Baltimore police began pursuing a Mercedes driven by a man suspected of dealing drugs. Police said the driver had rammed a city police car and tried to run down an officer.

The pursuit continued into Baltimore County and Carroll County, where the driver lost control of the car, police said. The car broke down near Ridge Road and Bevridge Drive in the Sykesville area. Police said the driver escaped and a female passenger was detained.

Troopers said they searched until Sunday, when they spotted Mason running into his grandmother's home.

"Mason repeatedly refused to come out," state police said in a statement.

About 11 p.m., police said, they fired tear gas into the house, but Mason did not surrender. Police said they found him hiding in a crawl space under the house.

Man held in Wal-Mart shooting

An 18-year-old Middle River man was charged with attempted murder after a shooting Sunday outside a Wal-Mart in Bowleys Quarters that left a woman injured by a stray bullet, police said yesterday.

Perry Adam Webb of the 3700 block of White Pine Road was being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center, police said.

Webb fired a handgun at a man who was running away from him after a dispute about 12:25 p.m. near the store in the 100 block of Carroll Island Road, police said.

A bullet grazed Patricia Wancowicz, 34, of Essex as she walked toward her car in the parking lot, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a Baltimore County police spokesman.

Wancowicz was treated at Franklin Square Hospital Center and released, Hill said.

Webb was arrested at his home about 8:15 p.m. Sunday and charged with attempted second-degree murder and felony use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime, police said.

Josh Mitchell and Richard Irwin

Guilty plea in robbery attempt

A Baltimore man pleaded guilty yesterday in the attempted robbery of a grocery store that led to the death of one suspect and the shooting of a Baltimore County police officer last year.

Vernon E. Brown III, 35, was convicted of attempted armed robbery and use of a handgun in a violent crime. In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors dismissed 21 additional charges against Brown, including one count of attempted murder in the shooting of a canine officer who was searching for the robbery suspects.

The attempted robbery began about 6:50 a.m. Dec. 14 at a Super Fresh in Perry Hall. An undercover detective staking out the supermarket noticed two men walking to the rear of the store but lost sight of them in dense fog, according to charging documents. After circling to the front of the store, the detective saw two men in heavy coats running from the entrance. An employee also ran out, yelling that the store had just been robbed.

A cashier later told police that the men had gathered employees in the office and ordered someone to open the safe, according to the charging documents. The men fled without money when another employee entered the office, apparently startling them.

Police found Brown about 10 minutes later and arrested him, prosecutor John Cox said in court.

Meanwhile, county police cornered Learnold A. Jones, Brown's cousin, in the backyard shed of a nearby home. As Officer David T. Garner, a member of the canine unit, entered the shed, he "saw movement" and turned to warn the homeowner, the prosecutor said.

Jones fired at the officer, hitting him in the torso and arm, Cox said. One bullet pierced the officer's diaphragm, liver and lung before exiting from the other side of his body, the prosecutor said. Another bullet grazed the homeowner's arm as she shut her back door in response to Garner's warning.

Another officer involved in the search for the robbery suspects shot back, killing Jones.

Defense attorney Margaret A. Mead emphasized during yesterday's plea hearing that Brown was not with his cousin when the shooting occurred and, therefore, is "not culpable" for the officer's injuries.

Cox said he will ask for a prison term of 30 years when Brown is sentenced in December.

Jennifer McMenamin

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