Lessons learned from Arundel Mills shooting

November 16, 2011

Even though police do not think the recent execution-style double murder at Arundel Mills Mall was a random act of violence, it is a scary reminder of just how close violent crime can be to Anne Arundel County residents ("Police kill suspect in mall shootings," Nov. 13).

Less than 12 hours later, acting on information from a citizen, a joint task force which included police from Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties, surrounded the suspect's house in Capital Heights, a community in Prince George's County, in preparation for executing a search warrant. Within minutes a lone gunman appeared from the house with two guns, a shot gun and a carbine-style long gun, and despite repeated commands to disarm, engaged police in a shootout. The gunman, who was suspected in this horrific double murder, was killed. Unfortunately, a police officer was also wounded when he was struck in the leg, chest and eye by pellets from the shotgun wielded by the gunman.

As chief of the homicide division for the Prince George's County state's attorney, I prosecute murders every day like the one that occurred on Friday night. As a resident of Anne Arundel County, I, like many of you, find myself heading out to Arundel Mills on many a weekend evening for a movie or shopping. And while this type of incident is scary and should remind you to stay alert for potentially dangerous situations, it should not keep you away from the mall.

More importantly, citizens should realize just how important their voice is in the crime fighting process. During my 10 years as a homicide prosecutor in Baltimore City and Prince George's County, I have handled more than 100 murder prosecutions, taking more than 40 of these cases to trial. In each and every one of these cases, the path to justice started with the voice of concerned, brave citizens. Without their voice, murders would remain unsolved. Without their courage, murderers would continue to think they are above the law. Without their determination, violent criminals would go free. When people speak up, violent criminals are found and brought to justice.

Although this investigation ended with the suspect killed and a police officer wounded, it was a citizen's voice combined with the diligent, hard work of investigators that led police to the suspected killer's door, all in less than 12 hours. As usual, the professional police men and women who have sworn their lives to protect ours stepped into the most dangerous of situations. Justice was served swiftly and those who would commit these crimes are reminded of just how well our police officers do their job.

As we head into the holiday season, please remember to remain ever vigilant for the signs of crime and avoid them. Lock your car doors, have your keys ready as you approach your car, park in well lighted areas. We do not have to be victims.

Wes Adams, Severna Park

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