December 5, 2011

Crime Beat has moved

We've moved!

The Crime Beat is now on a new platform. Our hold home is still available if you want to reminisce, but for new features please come over to the new place.

We still have all your favorite features, including the crime and homicide maps, links to your favorite places. In short, we're still your one-stop shop for everything crime in Baltimore and beyond.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:53 AM | | Comments (0)

December 2, 2011

Police, ATF offering reward in molotov cocktail incidents

Baltimore Police and the Baltimore field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are offering a $5,000 reward for tips in a series of recent attacks in which makeshift firebombs have been thrown against homes, causing minor damage but raising concerns.

Since Sept. 13, there have been 13 incidents in which Molotov cocktails have been thrown at homes, largely in the area of Liberty Heights and Wabash avenues. The most recent occurred Nov. 16, and police believe the attacks are random.

Detectives will be canvassing Northwest Baltimore handing out fliers in hopes of generating information that could lead to an arrest, officials said. It reads, "Help make Baltimore safer. If you see something say something."

"Luckily, no one has been significantly injured, but we are not taking any chances," said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

The tip line is 1-888-ATF-FIRE.

For more on the firebombings, click here for a Nov. 15 story written by The Sun's Peter Hermann.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Northwest Baltimore

Baltimore County man pleads guilty to hoarding explosives

Baltimore County police investigating a man who shot a child in the leg with a pellet gun in February got a surprise when they searched his apartment in Owings Mills -- a pile of guns, ammunition, bombs, fuses and metal pipes.

In addition to bomb making materials, police said they found books with titles such as "The Anarchist Cookbook," "Blaster's Handbook," "The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives," "Improvised Radio Detonation Techniques," "The Do-It-Yourself Gunpowder Cookbook," "Home-Built Claymore Mines," and "Ragnar's Homemade Detonators -- How to Make 'Em, How to Salvage 'Em, How to Detonate 'Em."

Timothy Ray Berry, 28, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Thursday to possession of firearms and explosives and faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 1. Here's what police said they found in his apartment:

The BB gun used in the assault, a loaded 9mm handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun, 3 boxes of ammunition, handcuffs, brass knuckles, other BB guns and airsoft pistols and a stun gun.  Police also observed "several improvised explosive devices, including: C-4 explosive material; and a clear plastic container with gray powder and a M-800 pyrotechnic device inside, secured with a white lid with a burnt hole in the center."

Authorities searched the apartment a second time and said they found "items commonly used in the production of illegal improvised explosives, including, among other things: containers of potassium nitrate and potassium chlorate, smokeless shotgun powder, model rocket igniters and motors, pool chemicals, various fuse materials, PVC and metal pipe of varying lengths and pipe fittings."

Police also said they found "numerous books related to firearm and the manufacture of illegal improvised explosives. Berry had underlined and starred book titles including, “Clear Your Record & Own a Gun,” and “How to Lose Your X-Wife Forever.”  Berry’s computer was also seized and a subsequent forensic analysis revealed that less than a month before, Berry had searched online for how to make homemade C-4, and how to fabricate tags for Maryland license plates."

The Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement that on March 1, "following Berry’s arrest and detention on state charges related to child abuse, reckless endangerment, and gun possession, and with knowledge of the imminent federal investigation, Berry called another individual from jail and instructed that person to “burn” the “other books” and to get rid of “anything that looks like it could be suspect...”

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:22 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Baltimore County, Courts and the justice system

Two men rob bank in Fulton

Two masked men, one implying he had a gun, robbed a SunTrust Bank Thursday afternoon in Fulton, according to Howard County police. 

One of the men walked into the bank branch about 3:30 p.m. in the 7400 block of Maple Lawn Boulevard, and announced a robbery to the teller. Police said the other man stayed outside.

The men got away with an undetermined amount of money, according to police, who said there was one customer inside at the time of the holdup. Anyone with information is asked to call  410-313-STOP. Callers may remain anonymous.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Howard County

Some Baltimore County cops retire with half-milliion dollar payouts

Worried about your pension? Not some Baltimore County police commanders. The Sun's Alison Knezevich reports today that some are retiring with lump sum payments of $500,000, in addition to yearly pensions in the six figures.

It's all because of a unique retirement program designed to keep top cops on the force a little bit longer. The city did the same thing for police and firefighters, but the payouts weren't nearly as high, and leaders disbanded the program several years ago calling it an unaffordable luxury.

Alison writes:

Deferred Retirement Option Programs allow employees who delay retirement to receive the one-time payments when they leave, in exchange for smaller annual pensions. County officials said the county must contribute $7.5 million to its pension fund this year for the program, according to an actuarial analysis.

Such programs, generally used to keep experienced workers on the job, have raised questions around the country as governments debate how much they cost in the long run. Baltimore City's public safety unions sued to try to keep a similar program after the city decided to eliminate it last year. Baltimore County ended the benefit for new public safety hires in 2007, although it still has one for other employees.

Three county police majors left their jobs this year with payouts of more than half a million dollars each, according to the figures. They also have annual pensions exceeding $150,000. Another six police employees — four captains and two lieutenants — left with payments of more than $400,000 each.

Read Alison's complete story.

Read list of DROP payouts.


Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County

December 1, 2011

Man wanted in Canton robberies apprehended

A man being sought by police since the summer in connection with a series of robberies in Canton has been apprehended, according to court records.

Jerry Harcum, 26, was charged Wednesday with handgun-related charges that occurred Tuesday, according to online court records. Harcum was also served with at least three outstanding warrants charging him with robbery: A July 4 armed robbery charge, a July 24 armed robbery charge, and an August 24 robbery charge in Baltimore County.

Police would not provide information on the circumstances of the handgun arrest, though Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said Wednesday that one of the suspects detained in a series of robberies and carjackings in Baltimore City and Baltimore County Tuesday night had "open robbery warrants."

In August, police said they were stepping up efforts to find Harcum after tying him to at least two robberies in Canton, amid a wave of robberies targeting women and tourists walking late at night in Canton and Fells Point.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: South Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

November: Lowest homicide count since at least 1970

November in Baltimore saw the lowest number of homicides for that month in at least the past 40 years, with 10 people slain during the month.

The city has never seen fewer than 12 murders in the month of November since 1970. In recent years, 19 were killed in November 2010, 26 in November 2009, and 30 in November 2008. 

The relatively low total makes it possible that Baltimore could record less than 200 homicides for the year for the first time since the late 1970s, when the city also had 200,000 more residents.

Murders have been on a decline in Baltimore since late 2007, when Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III was appointed to his post. There were 282 people killed that year, which dropped to 234 the following year and 223 last year. Murder is down across the country, with many cities seeing their lowest totals since the 1960s.

November's victims include 67-year-old Shirley Tyler, who police say was killed by her grandson, and Lakeisha Player, a 26-year-old woman shot in the head in Northeast Baltimore by a man police say was her boyfriend. The boyfriend had previously been charged with taking the vehicle of a runaway teen from Virginia found dead in East Baltimore, and her family hopes the new charges might stimulate new information in their case.

Police also solved the killing of Tavon Toney, on Nov. 22, who they believe was fatally shot during a robbery. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:11 AM | | Comments (7)

Police report release in Conaway/Meister altercation

A police report documenting last month's altercation between Baltimore Clerk of Courts Frank M. Conaway Sr. and a blogger contradicts the accounts of both men, who could face criminal charges as a special prosecutor continues to deliberate.

Conaway and blogger Adam Meister have given different versions of what happened, and the eyewitness account of police who were driving by offers a third. Police have withheld the report citing the ongoing investigation, but released it Thursday morning after inquiries from the Baltimore Sun.

The report is written as a "common assault," and Conaway's name is redacted because the report lists him as the victim. But a follow-up report for a "handgun violation" says Conaway's gun and ammunition were seized because he had an expired concealed carry permit.

According to the report, officers with the citywide robbery unit were driving through the Ashburton neighborhood when they witnessed a "younger white male screaming at an older black male" on the sidewalk, who they later determined were Meister and Conaway. Police said they next saw the white man "take a fighting stance and attempt to kick the black male with his right foot," according to the report.

The officers said Conaway then swept his rain coat to the side, "displaying a tan leather holster containing a handgun," something both Conaway and Meister deny. The officers made a U-turn and saw the younger man running away, broadcast his description to other units, and stopped to talk to the man with the gun, the report says.

Conaway identified Meister as the man who fled, and said Meister had been banging on the front door of his home while screaming, the report says. Conaway said he followed Meister down the sidewalk and said he exposed the holstered weapon after Meister kicked at him, according to the report.

Conaway has said that he never left his property, and Meister maintains that he never tried to kick Conaway.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:08 AM | | Comments (0)

City police describe "mini crime spree" of carjackings, robberies

The Sun's Justin Fenton reports:

Three men were arrested in connection with a series of robberies and carjackings that occurred over a four-hour span Tuesday night across Baltimore County and the city, ending when the men crashed their vehicle near the Domino Sugars factory while fleeing police.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III and Baltimore County Chief James W. Johnson, who announced the arrests at a joint news conference Wednesday afternoon, called the robberies a "mini-crime spree" and said police worked together to catch the suspects, who had open warrants and criminal records.

Read full details here.

Bealefeld said there didn't appear to be any specific impetus for such a rapid series of crimes. "Just bad guys with guns," Bealefeld said. Their names were not disclosed as police continued to investigate and show photo lineups to victims.

"Last night's series of robberies punctuates that a few people are committing most of our violent crime in the Baltimore metropolitan area," Johnson said. "We've worked hard in Baltimore County and the city to build a partnership and relationships that reduce crime and make citizens in the metropolitan area safe."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:20 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County, Northeast Baltimore, Top brass

Police pursue stolen truck cab down BW Parkway

The driver of a stolen tractor-trailer cab led city police on a chase down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway Wednesday night, ending in Prince George's County. The pursuit began after people in South Baltimore called 911 to report the truck going through residential neighborhoods.

"Upon noticing police, the driver refused to stop," police said in statement. The driver took the cab down the highway and lost control and crashed at Powder Mill Road. Police used Foxtrot, the helicopter, to assist, along with Maryland State Police troopers and U.S. Park Police.

Authorities said the driver faces traffic and theft charges and is wanted by police in Mississippi. No one was hurt and no cars were damaged.

Read details of another police chase in West and Northwest Baltimore.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:12 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: South Baltimore

November 30, 2011

Could man's murder arrest lead to new clues in McCann case?

A Baltimore man has been arrested in the killing of a 26-year-old Northeast Baltimore woman, a development that parents of a runaway Virginia teen hope may yield new leads in the case of their daughter's mysterious death.

Police say Darnell Kinlaw, 21, confessed to fatally shooting Lakeisha Player inside her home on Nov. 11 and stealing her candy-apple red car, a purchase which friends say had been a point of pride for her. Kinlaw told police that Player was his girlfriend.

The troubled man has a long record, charged eight times with stealing cars and twice with burglary, one case which was filed by his mother who said he broke into the family home and took valuables after being kicked out for stealing.

One of the car theft cases was connected to the 2008 death of Virginia teen Annie McCann, who ran away from home and was found dead in an East Baltimore housing project.

An autopsy determined that Annie, 16, had died from a lethal does of lidocaine from a bottle of Bactine, used to treat pierced ears. Police say the death points to suicide, but her family has rejected that conclusion and say police never did a proper investigation.

The McCanns pressed police to charge Kinlaw and two juveniles for taking Annie's car and driving it to a gas station five blocks away. One of the teens admitted to removing Annie's body from the car and putting near the trash bin. The juveniles were found responsible for the unauthorized use of the car; but charges against Kinlaw were dropped due to lack of evidence.

Annie's father, Daniel McCann, said that he might use the arrest to press authorities to question Kinlaw about more details in his daughter's death. He said he felt police did not question the young man hard enough after charging him with taking his daughter's car.

"He's facing murder one," McCann said. "This might be the time to press him to learn about additional cases. He might be more forthcoming now than he every will be."

Click the "Annie McCann" tab below for previous coverage of her death, or here for the rest of this article. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:11 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Annie McCann, Northeast Baltimore

Man, 29, fatally shot in Carrollton Ridge


A 29-year-old man was fatally shot Wednesday night in Southwest Baltimore's Carrollton Ridge neighborhood, police said.

At the scene, in the 500 block of S. Bentalou St., police lit up the street to search for clues as residents congregated behind police tape. Police said a man dressed in black "attacked" victim Kenneth Davis, of the nearby 2200 block of Wilkens Ave. and shot him in the head and back. He was taken by ambulance to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.

Police did not provide a motive. Anyone with information was asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.


Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southwest Baltimore

Greenmount Avenue faces uncertain times

The shooting call on Greenmount Avenue came out just as kids in costume were hitting the streets on Halloween night. At first, we feared the worst. The victim wasn't out trick or treating, however, but was a retired bus driver caught in a robbery at Yau Brothers in Waverly.

The fourth fatal shooting in the tiny carryout since 2009.

For some merchants trying to turn Greenmount around East 33rd Street into something more upscale than a worn and tattered commercial strip, this latest killing might be the final blow. The owner of Darker Than Blue Cafe is threatening to leave, complaining the city has given up.

But other store and restaurant owners aren't so sure the strip is a lost cause. The city police focused on the area last year, after a security guard for the Afro-American was gunned down in Yau Brothers during another robbery. While proprietors question the city's last commitment, they say want to stay and give it a try.

Greenmount Avenue and East 33rd are crossroads for a diverse community, where Waverly meets Oakenshawe meets Charles Village. There's a widely popular farmers market on Saturdays, the YMCA with ballfields around the corner, an expensive restaurant fusing live jazz with food and an active merchant's association.

There's also places like Yau Brothers that according to one city councilwoman, "attracts homicides." Read the full story here, including video of latest shooting. Some quotes representing divergent viewpoints of the Greenmount Avenue strip:  

Continue reading "Greenmount Avenue faces uncertain times" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:07 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: North Baltimore

Howard County man charged in break-ins at school, church

A Howard County man has been charged with breaking into a church and a preschool, and is suspected in several other burglaries. Police said he was caught after trying to use a credit card from the school at a drug store.

Authorities also said he stole musical instruments from the church and a camera from the school. Police said they found the digital camera at the suspect's house. Here is a statement with more details from Howard County police:

Continue reading "Howard County man charged in break-ins at school, church" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Howard County

November 29, 2011

Special prosecutor emerging as option in conflict cases

In the case involving an altercation last week between Baltimore Clerk of Circuit Court Frank M. Conaway Sr. and a blogger, State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein has said his office won't make the decision on whether to file criminal charges or handle any ensuing court proceedings.

That responsibility will instead fall to Steven I. Kroll, a former Baltimore County prosecutor who now works as a coordinator for Maryland's association of state's attorneys. In recent months, Kroll's position has evolved from one that deals with ethics and training issues, to also serving as a special outside counsel for cases in which prosecutors say their offices have a potential conflict of interest.

Kroll will be sworn in, review the case, and, if he determines charges should be filed, will handle the proceedings.

Traditionally, prosecutors often tap neighbors in other jurisdictions to take on the cases in which there's a possible conflict of interest. Eventually, they repay the favor.

But, with prosecutors faced with tightening budgets and a reluctance to ask others to add to their burden, Kroll has presented an alternative. He receives no additional pay for taking on these cases, and makes decisions independently of any prosecutor's office, instead drawing on his 26 years as a Baltimore County prosecutor.

Kroll did not respond to requests for comment, but those who have worked with him say he was eager to return to the courtroom.

"Steven Kroll was a great option," said Wicomico County State's Attorney Matthew Maciardello, who asked Kroll to handle a case involving a supporter of his campaign. "He's ready, willing and able to come down, and nobody can question his integrity or his motives."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:42 PM | | Comments (0)

Cummings praises Bernstein at witness protection forum

Speaking at a forum on witness intimidation, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings offered praise of new Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein and urged law enforcement leaders to be vigilant in protecting witnesses and victims of crime.

Cummings praised Bernstein for hosting the forum, at the University of Baltimore law school, and said: "You have made a difference already ... The confidence of our citizens has skyrocketed."

One year ago this month, Cummings was among a core group of supporters of former State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy who hung around into the early morning hours following Election Day anxiously awaiting the results. Cummings had joined others in criticizing Bernstein's plan for crime-fighting as one-sided.

But Bernstein's decision to hold a witness intimidation forum addressed one of law enforcement's most pressing issues - and one that is close to Cummings, who has pushed a bill in the Senate that would give millions to states for witness protection. 

Cummings recalled the 2002 firebombings of the Dawson family, as well as the Stop Snitching video that circulated underground, and said he has tried to be a role model for African Americans by advocating the importance of cooperating with law enforcement. "We've got to get people to understand that they have a duty to testify and cooperate. But they've got to know they'll be protected," Cummings said.

Cummings also referenced the murder this summer of his nephew in Norfolk, Va., a case that remains unsolved. "Our family is convinced it has to do with witness intimidation," he said. 

During a brief panel discussion, before the rest of the event was closed to the media, authorities discussed ways to make victims and witnesses safe and comfortable. Angela Alsobrooks, the recently elected state's attorney for Prince George's County, said many people become untrustworthy not when they are victimized or witness a crime, but through prior interactions with law enforcement that involve relatives.

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger, noting cases where information about victims and witnesses has been leaked onto the streets, said authorities need to continue to "push the envelope" with judges to keep crucial information withheld. Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III also noted increased efforts to intercept jail and prison communications.

"The people retaliating are not the defendants themselves - it's other gang members, their family members," Bealefeld said. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:41 PM | | Comments (1)

Two arrests in recent city killings

A 21-year-old man has been arrested and charged in the Nov. 11 killing of a woman found shot to death inside her Northeast Baltimore home, police confirmed.

Darnell Kinlaw was being held without bond in the shooting death of Lakeisha Player, who was killed in her home in the 2600 block of Kentucky Avenue. In addition to murder and assault charges, Kinlaw, of the 5100 block of Harford Rd., is charged with car theft and theft less than $100, indicating there is a robbery aspect to the case. Police said the killing was domestic-related, but they declined to elaborate.

Kinlaw has two prior convictions related to car theft charges, court records show. 

Here's what a friend told me about Player earlier this month:

"She was a beautiful young woman full of life and love. She was born and raised in Baltimore City. A wonderful mother of two young children that she loved dearly and do anything for. She was working very hard to give her children more than they would imagine. There were her life she adored them. She will be sadly missed but not forgotten at all."

Police also said they had made an arrest in the Nov. 22 shooting death of 25-year-old Tavon Toney, who was fatally shot while walking in the 900 block of W. Franklin St. at about 7:45 a.m. Jerome Burgess Jr., 19, of the 2600 block of Springhill Ave., was arrested later that day, police said, though the arrest was not initially disclosed. He is charged with attempted first degree murder; a police spokesman was unable to explain the discrepency.

The arrest is the fifth time Burgess has been arrested and charged in a crime this year by city police, including prior cases of drugs, theft and robbery. 

Unsolved is the Nov. 14 shooting death of Steven Pennington, 32, of the 1900 block of Walbrook Ave. Pennington was shot at about 9:30 a.m. while walking in the 1700 block of Moreland Ave. in West Baltimore, police said. A gunman approached him and shot him multiple times before fleeing. A motive is unknown.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Northeast Baltimore, West Baltimore

Crack sentencing law amended, but do convicts' records reflect their crimes?

Dwuan Dent and Antwan Askia were on opposite sides of an East Baltimore drug turf war in the 1990s that killed at least four people, according to federal prosecutors who charged Dent with murder and conspiracy and Askia with various drug counts.

Both were convicted only of drug distribution charges, but because of tough-on-crime guidelines that imposed greater penalties for crack than powder cocaine, Dent was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison and Askia to 20.

Now Dent and Askia are among scores of prisoners across the country who are being released early — the beneficiaries of efforts to change those sentencing guidelines that critics say disproportionately affected low-income people and minorities who faced longer prison terms for crack-cocaine charges. Some authorities, however, warn that potentially dangerous criminals with records of violence also could be released.

Since the 1980s, possession of one gram of crack carried the same penalty as 100 grams of powder cocaine. The bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously last year to narrow the gap between the guidelines that applied to each drug, and the change is being applied retroactively.

An estimated 12,000 prisoners across the country are eligible for release as the lighter sentencing guidelines are applied to their cases. Federal prosecutors and public defenders in Maryland are reviewing some 900 cases, so far recommending the release of 24 inmates; federal judges have signed off on those releases. Officials say another two dozen are likely to be released before the end of the year, and a few more after that.

While only those convicted of drug offenses — and no other charges — are eligible for review, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said prosecutors in some cases didn't pursue convictions on harder-to-prove allegations of violence because the drug charges carried such heavy sentences. He declined to comment on specific cases.

"In some cases, their record may not reflect the violent crimes in which they were engaged," Rosenstein said. "When prosecutors had these crack penalties, they used those to incarcerate people for lengthy periods of time without proving the violence. It's much more complicated to prove that somebody's involved in shootings and murder."

But Sapna Mirchandani, a federal public defender in Maryland who is leading an effort to identify inmates who should be released, took exception to that assessment.

"The fact that they were able to use the amount of crack in their possession to trump up the sentence shows how the crack law was being used to imprison people for large chunks of time with little in the way of investigation and proof," she said.

To continue reading about this issue, click here.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:54 AM | | Comments (0)

Political intrigue and crime unfolding at the courthouse

The jury had just been seated, pared down from 55 citizens to 12, and judge, Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill, was admonishing the jury about not talking about the case. No Twitter notes. No Facebook. Don't spill the days testimony at the family dinner table. Don't read the papers.

Seconds later, a female juror raised her hand. She sheepishly told the judge that, before she was selected to the panel, she had called her husband and said, "You won't believe the case I'm on."

The judge told her not to do it again, and then told the jurors the case they were on would generate publicity. The back two rows were filled with reporters watching jury selection, a tedious process usually skipped by the media.

The case involves Paul Schurick, an aide to former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., accused of orchestrating a robocall campaign to suppress the the black vote during last year's governor's election won by Democrat Martin O'Malley. Read story here.

Ehrlich is expected to take the witness stand, as is Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, along with a cast of political characters who might open up the world of dirty tricks and political intrigue in Maryland politics.

The judge, appointed by O'Malley but having won an independent election that keeps him on the bench through 2025, admitted to receiving one of the robocalls, telling voters the election was over, O'Malley had won and there was no need to vote even though polls were still open.

Schurick, charged with conspiracy to commit election fraud, is represented by a prominent black defense attorney, who plans on calling the black congressman Cummings to talk about his counter robocalls and whether there was some giant political conspiracy afoot.

Let the political games begin.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system

Frosty melts down, put in cuffs

He is, the deputy police chief of Chestertown says, the "town nuisance."

He's also Frosty the Snowman, and he's under arrest, charged with kicking a police dog in a parade while dressed up as the famous character. The story went around the world, and The Sun's Tricia Bishop contributes with a gem of a story detailing the snowman's turbulent history with cops and his past arrests.

He's been banned from public meetings (he stood outside banging pots and pans in protest one day) and called police in April pretending to be part of a CNN crew seeking an interview. Here are some unforgettable holiday lines from Tricia's story:

"Within minutes, two police officers had the so-called jolly, happy soul face down on the sidewalk in front of the Compleat Bookseller, raising a ruckus as his hands were cuffed behind his back. The round, white head lay forlornly at his feet, top hat and carrot nose still in place."

"While the Frosty of holiday lore has only a brief run-in with a traffic cop (who famously hollers "stop"), the Frosty of Chestertown, 52-year-old Kevin Michael Walsh, has a history of tangling with police."

He said he spent three hours in the suit, handcuffed to a wall, before someone made him take it off so it could be returned to the costume shop. He was released on his own recognizance that afternoon. And by Monday, he'd come to a realization: "I've got to get a lawyer, before I melt," he said.

Check out other coverage -- The Cecil Whig: Frosty Iced by Police and The Star Democrat in Easton has Man playing Frosty says he did nothing wrong.

Read The Baltimore Sun's complete story here.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, Crime elsewhere, Crime humor

Serial bank robber pleads guilty; hit several states

A man who authorities say robbed banks from Glen Burnie to Brookings, South Dakota, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Monday. Gary Allen Densmore, 56, who used to live in Anne Arundel County, faces up to 20 years on each of three counts of bank robbery.

Prosecutors say that on Feb. 2, he tried to rob the Carrollton Bank on Crain Highway in Glen Burnie by handing a teller a bag and a demand note. He ran out of the bank when the teller hesitated. The next day, prosecutors said he walked into the Severn Savings Bank on Crain Highway, handed the teller a note and a bag, and fled with $2,300.

The Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office said Densmore stole a car and left Maryland. They said he hit banks in February and March in Wisconsin, South Dakota and Iowa before being arresrted in Minnesota.

More details from a statement by the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office:

Continue reading "Serial bank robber pleads guilty; hit several states" »

Howard County man pleads guilty to burning down home of estranged wife

A Guatemalan national has pleaded guilty in Howard County Circuit Court to two counts of attempted first-degree murder for setting a house on fire in Elkridge that was occupied by his estranged wife and 10 other people.

Santiago Adalpho Gonzalez-Miner, of the 6300 block of Forrest Avenue in Elkridge, could go to prison for up to 20 years when he is sentenced in January. Prosecutors said that a second defendant, Edvin Giovanni Ceron-Eyes, has a pre-trial motions hearing scheduled for next month.

The plea agreement filed by the Howard County State's Attorney's Office contains some riveting plot lines and describes how the occupants made harrowing escapes:

Continue reading "Howard County man pleads guilty to burning down home of estranged wife" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Howard County

Woman sought in car jacking

Baltimore County police are seeking a 26-year-old woman who they say carjacked another woman in the parking lot of a Safeway grocery store on Baltimore National Pike on Thanksgiving Day. Police said the suspect was armed with a knife and the victim was cut when she tried to grab it and escape.

The next day, police said they found a car linked to the suspect that was reported stolen in an armed carjacking in Fairfax County, Va. Police say the woman has no known ties to Baltimore County and may be staying in a hotel.

Stephanie Lynn Schwab is described as a white female, 5’3” tall, 165 pounds, with blond hair and green eyes.

Anyone with information can call Baltimore County Police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP (1-866-756-2587). To text a message to Metro Crime Stoppers, send to "CRIMES" (274637), then enter the message starting with "MCS," or e-mail a tip to Metro Crime Stoppers.

Those contacting Metro Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000. For more details, read the statement from Baltimore County Police:

Continue reading "Woman sought in car jacking" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:46 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County

November 28, 2011

Police find 8 pounds of marijuana in Mount Vernon home

Baltimore police officers serving a warrant on a man wanted in a minor crime said they stumbled on a stash house in Mount Vernon where more than eight pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $25,000 on the street was being stored.

Det. Jeremy Silbert said the rowhouse where the drugs were found on Monday is in the 800 block of Cathedral St., near the Baltimore School for the Arts and Mount Vernon Park, where the Washington Monument. A holiday lighting festival is scheduled there on Thursday.

Police said officers with the Warrant Apprehension Task Force were looking for a man wanted for failing to appear in court on a drug charge. Silbert, a city police spokesman, said the officers arrested the man when he answered the door.

Seeing suspected drugs, Silbert said officers obtained a warrant and members of the Violent Crime Impact Section searched the rowhouse, near West Madison Street, and found what he said was eight pounds of marijuana and large amount of cash.

The suspect’s name was not immediately released pending the filing of formal charges related to the drug seizure.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Downtown

Federal air marshals arrest man on plane en route to BWI

Don't sit too close the federal air marshals.

A 34-year-old man from South Carolina was charged Monday with assaulting a federal air marshal during what prosecutors describe as a fight on board an airplane making its descent into Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner ordered the suspect, William D. Barna, from James Island, to undergo five to seven days of alcohol rehabilitation then spend 28 days in an inpatient program. Once released, the said he cannot fly on a commercial airline until this case is resolved.
The incident occurred Sunday night aboard Delta Airlines Flight 1624 from Atlanta to Baltimore.

Prosecutors said that 15 minutes from landing, Barna, seated in seat 3A, yelled at a passenger sitting next to him, in 3B.

The criminal complaint says Barna struck the passenger, identified in court documents as Krystopher R. Holloway. But Federal Air Marshal Colby W. Swift, was sitting behind the suspect, in Seat 4C, and his partner, was directly in front of him, in 3C.

The complaint in U.S. District Court in Baltimore says Swift and his partner broke up the altercation and seated Barna away from the other passenger. The court documents say that Barna appeared to fall asleep, but that he suddenly “woke up, threatened Federal Air Mashal Swift with a raised, clenched fist and then attempted to strike him with a clenched left fist.”

Colby and his unidentified partner then tried to subdue Barna and prosecutors said in court documents the three rolled around the aisle and that Swift was “forced to employ a leverage technique in order to gain … control of the subject’s right arm.”

Prosecutors said the air marshals subdued him until landing and that once on the group, police with the Maryland Transportation Authority put a “split face shield and leg restraints” on the suspect. The court documents do not describe what the initial altercation was about; Holloway could not be reached for comment.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:01 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Anne Arundel County
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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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