Suspect at Large After NE Manhunt

During their search, police cordon off the end of the road near 19th and M streets NE along the southwest border of the National Arboretum.
During their search, police cordon off the end of the road near 19th and M streets NE along the southwest border of the National Arboretum. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)

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By Mary Otto
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 12, 2005

Police combed the snowy woods of the National Arboretum in Northeast Washington for about four hours yesterday afternoon, looking for a man involved in a confrontation at a nearby motel that left an officer wounded by gunfire.

The massive manhunt inside the forested 446-acre property was called off at 4:15 p.m. as skies began to darken and the suspect, identified by police as 34-year-old Derrick Arthur, remained at large.

Police initially were pursuing Arthur, of the 100 block of Irvington Street SW, in connection with the kidnapping at gunpoint of a 26-year-old woman early Saturday, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman. They found him about noon yesterday at a Days Inn in the 2700 block of New York Avenue NE, Gentile said.

Gentile said that when the officers confronted Arthur at the motel, he ran to his car and tried to run them over, which prompted them to open fire.

One of the officers, Detective Tomas Rosenborg, was struck by a bullet in the lower torso and taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he was reported in good condition last night. Rosenborg, 38, who has been on the D.C. force for 16 years, was expected to be released this morning.

Although Arthur is believed to be armed, police said, it is unclear whether Rosenborg was shot by the suspect or wounded from a bullet fired by another officer.

The suspect then crashed his car, a gray Infiniti, in the motel parking lot and ran across the street, apparently going into the arboretum, which is bordered by New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE. Police found the kidnapped woman, whose name was not released, unhurt at the motel.

Arthur's escape into the arboretum, a complex of gardens, forests and indoor plant collections that is open daily to the public and run by the U.S. Agriculture Department, triggered a frenzy of law enforcement activity.

Marked and unmarked police cars patrolled the perimeter of the wooded reserve, sometimes sounding their sirens and moving in groups of four from one corner or parking lot to another. Officers stationed on foot along the arboretum's high fence scanned the woods for signs of movement. Other officers, assisted by dogs, searched the grounds. Helicopters supplied by U.S. Park Police and Maryland State Police continuously circled overhead.

The arboretum, usually open until 5 p.m., was closed about 1 p.m., and all the workers and visitors were evacuated, arboretum Director Thomas Elias said. He said that he was unsure how many people were visiting at the time but that attendance generally is light in the winter. Elias said he expected the facility would be open on a normal schedule today.

During the manhunt, curious motorists waiting at traffic lights at New York and Bladensburg asked a knot of reporters and cameramen what had happened.

A man selling Christmas trees, who declined to give his name, said he had seen several police cars near the Days Inn as officers prepared to close in on the hotel. He said he had thought they might be staging a drug raid.

As officers searched the woods, Bob King, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission member from the nearby Fort Lincoln community, stood outside monitoring the operation.

"The whole town won't be able to sleep until he is apprehended," King said.

Gentile said anyone who sees the suspect should avoid confronting him but should contact police immediately. He asked anyone with information about Arthur's whereabouts to call police at 202-727-9099.

Staff writer Stephanie McCrummen contributed to this report.


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