VIDEOTAPE RELEASED

2nd Arrest Made In Connection With Carjacking String

A D.C. police officer examines a Chevrolet TrailBlazer recovered in Northwest. It was stolen Monday.
A D.C. police officer examines a Chevrolet TrailBlazer recovered in Northwest. It was stolen Monday. (By Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)
By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 20, 2006

Authorities yesterday released dramatic images from a surveillance videotape that show an off-duty federal police officer being carjacked in Northeast Washington, one of more than a dozen carjackings and robberies that took place in quick succession this week in the District and Maryland.

The video was released the same day that police charged a 32-year-old man with receiving stolen property and unauthorized use of one of the vehicles taken in the carjackings. Police said they also are reviving their focus on a 16-year-old who was arrested after a car chase early Tuesday that ended near the National Zoo. Neither has been charged directly in the carjackings or robberies.

In the video released by D.C. police, the off-duty officer can be seen pulling his Nissan Armada sport-utility vehicle under a driveway overhang of a ballet school in the 4300 block of Harewood Road NE. Moments later, the officer's car is boxed in by another SUV and a black Jeep Liberty -- a tactic used by the robbers in at least one other carjacking, police said.

The video then shows the robbers forcing the out-of-uniform officer, who works for the U.S. Mint Police, out of the Armada. He sprints away, and the thieves drive off so fast that the tires of at least one of the three vehicles trails smoke.

During the crime, authorities said, one of the thieves apparently fired a shot. No one was injured by the gunfire, and no one was seriously hurt in any of the other attacks, police said.

The video does not show clear images of the robbers.

D.C. police Lt. Michael Pavlik said investigators were scrambling to assemble a list of potential suspects and would soon be showing photos to witnesses.

Several witnesses have said they got a good look at the assailants, one of whom wielded a firearm that police identified in reports as a Tec-9 semiautomatic pistol. Police said at least four or five people took part in the crimes.

All the stolen vehicles have been recovered, and Pavlik said that crime scene technicians were checking them for fingerprints.

Police released the video in hopes of generating leads from the public, and Pavlik urged anyone with information to call police at 202-727-9099.

Pavlik declined to discuss specifics about the two people arrested Monday night and Tuesday. One, John West, was ordered held without bail pending a hearing Friday in D.C. Superior Court.

West, of no fixed address, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in the parking lot of a pawnshop on Georgia Avenue NW. He was driving one of the carjacked vehicles, a tan Chevrolet Blazer, police said.

As West tried to rip out one of the speakers in the hopes of selling it to the pawnshop, he was arrested, police said. In West's pocket, investigators found the key to the carjacked vehicle of the off-duty officer, police said.

Police officials said they also had renewed interest in the 16-year-old District youth arrested after a car chase early Tuesday. The pursuit began about 12:30 a.m. after police spotted another Nissan that had been carjacked just an hour earlier in Northeast Washington.

The youth was caught inside the National Zoo, arrested and charged with unlawful entry. Police said Tuesday afternoon they did not think he was connected to the spate of crimes.

That night, crime scene technicians realized a key seized from the youth belonged to another carjacked vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe stolen in Northeast Washington Monday afternoon, police said.

Staff writers Henri E. Cauvin and Allison Klein contributed to this report.


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