Mall Shootout Suspect Facing Felony Charges

By Raymond McCaffrey, Eric Rich and Leef Smith
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, November 20, 2006 3:26 PM

A teenager who allegedly initiated a shootout with an off-duty U.S. Secret Service agent at an Annapolis mall Saturday faces multiple felony charges for the incident, which left both shooters and another teenager wounded, Anne Arundel County police said today.

Police identified the assailant as Javaughn Norman Adams, 18, who is in stable condition at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore after being shot twice by the agent.

Adams faces felony charges for attempted murder and assault when he is released from the hospital, said Sara Schriver, a county police spokeswoman. Before pressing charges against Adams, police "have to conduct a formal interview with him," she said. Police did not release an address for Adams, although Schriver said he has ties to the Annapolis area.

Schriver declined to identify the Secret Service agent, who is also in stable condition at Shock Trauma in Baltimore after being shot in one of his legs.

The gun battle erupted at 7:15 p.m. Saturday in the food court of the Westfield Shoppingtown Annapolis mall, sending scores of shoppers racing for exits or diving under tables. The shooting broke out after the Secret Service agent spotted as many as eight young men assaulting another young man and intervened to try to stop the fighting, according to a preliminary police account.

Adams drew a handgun and fired, hitting the agent once in the leg, police said. The agent then drew his weapon, fired seven times and struck Adams twice in the abdomen, police said. The agent was with a family member, who was not injured.

The injuries to each man -- as well as to Tahzay L. Brown, a 16-year-old Annapolis High School student who was struck in the crossfire -- were not considered life-threatening.

Schriver said yesterday that it was unclear whether the bullet that hit Brown was fired by the agent or the teenager.

Georgia Goslee, an attorney authorized to speak on behalf of Brown's family, said Brown was drawn into the violence because the person who was being assaulted is his friend. She said the confrontation between the friend and the larger group was "spillover from an earlier incident that happened at the school . . . back in September."

Fighting at Annapolis High School in September resulted in the arrest of nearly 20 students. More recently, seven students were arrested in connection with three fights at the high school on Friday.

Police have said the fights stemmed from "neighborhood rivalries," particularly among students from public housing complexes.

Goslee said of Brown, who was treated at a hospital and released, "Obviously, he's upset and shocked. He's disturbed by the entire occurrence."

In the bustling food court yesterday, shoppers and employees buzzed about the shooting. Tommy Yau said he was behind the counter at Panda Express, helping customers during a busy rush, when he spotted four or five men fighting.

Fistfights aren't uncommon in the food court, he said, but this one was close to his shop. Yau, the restaurant's manager, decided to call mall security. He had barely stepped toward the phone when shots rang out -- as many as seven within three or four seconds, he said.

"I got down," Yau recalled. "Then I heard another four or five shots."

Looking up moments later, he spotted two men on the floor, each just feet from his counter. One was sprawled near a trash can and bleeding, and the other was by a bank of pay phones near a mall exit.

Yau said the next voice he heard was that of the federal agent, who raised his badge and called out to bystanders: "I'm a police officer -- call 911!"

Yau said mall security and law enforcement officers quickly swarmed the food court, and he later provided cups that were used to mark spent shell casings scattered on the floor.

Schriver would not identify the 18-year-old. She also would not identify the agent, referring questions to the Secret Service.

Federal authorities, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agent has been with the Secret Service for more than five years and is assigned to the Office of Protective Operations in Washington.

"It was your typical Saturday night at the mall," Schriver said. "You had families there, juveniles getting ready to go the movies. It was definitely a terrorizing event."

Despite the incident, many shoppers appeared unbowed yesterday. The food court was jammed, and many there said they'd heard about the shooting but felt secure.

"When you think of Annapolis, you think it's safe," said Baltimore resident Courtney Katunick, 23, who was eating with her sister just feet from where the shooting occurred. "It makes you feel safe that [the Secret Service officer] would step up" to break up the fight, Katunick said. "It could have escalated into something worse."

Staff writer Allan Lengel contributed to this report.

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