Driver hits BP station after assault at Timonium eatery, police say

Suspect makes obscene gesture at police before crash

April 14, 2011|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County police say they quickly found the connection between an assault at a Timonium restaurant and a crash at a gas station in Hunt Valley early Thursday morning.

Officers responded to an emergency call at An Poitin Stil on York Road about 2 a.m., only to find that the assailant had fled. Police said the restaurant staff identified the man as an intoxicated patron who had been asked to leave. When two workers escorted the man from the restaurant, he assaulted them, police said. After the workers had locked the door, the man began hitting the windows and yelling.

By the time officers arrived at the restaurant, the man was gone.

About 10 minutes later, a driver in a dark-colored minivan pulled up to a different officer's car, honked the horn and made an obscene gesture, police said. The driver then made a sharp U-turn and sped north on York Road.

Soon after, an officer headed in the opposite direction saw the van run a red light, police said.

By the time police caught up to the minivan, it had crashed into the BP gas station at York and Shawan roads. A passerby described the driver, who had fled on foot, to the officers. That description matched that of the assault suspect, police said.

Air and police dog units assisted in a search of the area. The driver was located at the Hunt Valley light rail station about 40 minutes after the accident. He was arrested there and is being held at the Cockeysville precinct.

Police identified the suspect as Wilmon Benson IV of Minneapolis, Minn. He has been charged with two counts of second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and traffic offenses, said police spokeswoman Detective Cathleen E. Batton.

Eric Baumgart, BP safety director, said the accident caused more than $10,000 in damage to the station's mini-mart, but there were no injuries to employees. None of the gas pumps was damaged.

"This was a series of many incidents that at first seemed unrelated and later turned out to be all related," said Detective Cathleen E. Batton.

Benson is being held on $75,000 bail at Baltimore County Detention Center.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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