Pr. George's Police Shoot People in Separate Incidents

A man who police say fired shots at an armored car on the Beltway is shot by police after he barricades himself in a house in Beltsville, Prince George's County.
By Hamil R. Harris and Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 17, 2009

Prince George's County police shot a man who came at them with an automatic rifle Friday after he had tried to rob an armored truck near the Capital Beltway and then fled into a Beltsville home. It was one of two incidents Friday in which county police shot suspects.

In the Beltsville incident, Police Capt. Misty Mints said the man had barricaded himself in the home but came out with an SKS automatic rifle with a banana clip. Officers opened fire, and the man was hit, Mints said. He was taken to a hospital and was in serious but stable condition, police said.

Witnesses told police that a second man with a handgun fled before the shooting, Mints said. But police have not been able to find him or confirm that he was part of that incident. They think the man with the assault rife acted alone.

As that was unfolding in Beltsville, an off-duty county officer shot and wounded two women as they dragged him with their car while fleeing the scene of a shoplifting in the College Park area, said Officer Henry Tippett, another police spokesman. He said the officer had been working as a security guard at a store in the 7300 block of Baltimore Avenue.

He pursued two women from the store after a shoplifting. As they drove off, his arm got stuck in the door of their car. As the vehicle kept going, he drew his gun and fired, Tippett said. The officer and shoplifting suspects were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

The Beltsville incident started about 3:30 p.m. when a man walked up to an armored truck stopped along Powder Mill Road, Mints said. The armored-truck driver showed the would-be robber his gun, prompting the man to get back into his own car. As the armored truck began moving, the man followed.

The armored-truck driver called 911, Mints said. After the car cut off and stopped the armored truck, the suspect pulled out the rifle and opened fire at the truck, hitting it three times, police said. An officer on a nearby traffic stop arrived as the shots were fired and began shooting at the suspect. The suspect got back into his car, and police chased him to Beltsville. Police said shots were fired on Interstate 95 during the chase.

A neighbor who lives behind the Beltsville house said the owner of that house said he answered a knock at the door and was shocked to find a man holding an automatic rifle. The man with the gun said, "I need help. I need help. I need your keys," the neighbor said, recalling the account the homeowner gave.

The homeowner told the gunman: "I don't have keys to give you," said the neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she said she has a sensitive job. The neighbor said the homeowner grabbed his child and fled the house safely.

The gunman then went downstairs in the house, where a renter lived, the neighbor said. She said the homeowner told her the armed man allowed the renter to leave the house unharmed.

The gunman then came out with the rifle and was shot by police about 4:30.

Police Chief Roberto Hylton said police showed heroism and restraint. "I'm so proud of the response of my officers to save the lives of the . . . armored car employees. This was an heroic effort. He didn't think about his own life, only the safety of the employees. Quick response. Proper tactical approach. So proud."

Staff writers Maria Glod and Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

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