Suspect in Fuel Theft Tied to Station Owner
Saturday, October 27, 2007
A man accused of hijacking a fuel-filled tank truck in Baltimore last week and dumping its contents in a storage tank at a gas station in the District had spoken by phone with the station's owner, authorities said yesterday.
A witness told police that Willie O. Mckinnon of Prince George's County had bragged that he was planning to rob a tanker, according to a police affidavit made public. The witness said she overheard Mckinnon calling "someone by the name Ali" and discussing a $10,000 payment he expected to receive "for the load," the affidavit says.
Investigators interviewed the station's owner, whose full name has not been disclosed, and found evidence of calls between him and Mckinnon, the affidavit says.
A message left last night for the owner of the station, a Chevron in the 3000 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, was not immediately returned.
According to the affidavit, the owner told investigators that a man driving a tanker arrived at his station Oct. 19, when he was not there, and attempted to persuade an employee to buy the fuel. The owner said the employee declined, but the man dumped the fuel into one of the station's tanks anyway, the affidavit says.
Detective Donny Moses, a Baltimore police spokesman, said the owner had been "interviewed extensively."
"There is definitely much work to be done," Moses said.
The tanker, loaded with more than 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel, was stolen at gunpoint. It was found eight hours later, nearly empty, just outside Bolling Air Force Base in the District.
The whereabouts of the fuel remained unclear until the gas station's owner called the trucking company, Baltimore Tank Lines, to report that he believed he had the fuel.
Mckinnon, 43, of Landover Hills was being held without bail yesterday on 13 charges that included armed robbery and armed carjacking. He was arrested Wednesday after authorities received a tip from the witness, a woman who said she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a man who had "bragged to her about planning to set up the robbery of a gas tanker," the affidavit says.
The victim called a friend on the suspect's phone during an attempt to escape, causing Mckinnon's name and phone number to appear on the caller ID of the person who received the call, documents say. It was "the same number that had called the gas station owner . . . several times on the morning of the robbery," documents say.
On the morning of the robbery, police say, an assailant wearing a ski mask emerged from the sleeper portion of the truck as its driver returned from loading the fuel. Police say the assailant held a gun to the victim's head and ordered him to "head towards 95 South." The victim soon escaped, and the assailant left with the vehicle, police say.