Chillum Resident Keeps Police at Bay for 5 Hours

Two Prince George's County police officers were wounded yesterday during a raid on a suspected drug operation in a Chillum apartment. The apartment resident, who was also shot, then held police at bay for more than five hours before he finally surrendered.

Shortly after 1 p.m., county police arrested a man whose identity was not immediately determined.

He was arrested at 5725 Chillum Heights Dr., and charged as "John Doe" with two counts of assault with intent to murder.

He was listed in critical condition last night at Prince George's General Hospital where he was being treated for wounds to the face, eye, chest and abdomen.

County police spokesman Robert Law said that armed vice detectives and members of the Emergency Services Team, wearing bulletproof vests, went to a first floor apartment at 7:30 a.m., announced their presence, but did not hear any response.

"With a battering ram, they knocked down the front door with no resistance," Law said. Upon reaching a rear bedroom door that was locked, police heard several shots through the door. Law said police officers returned fire through the door only once.

Shotgun pellets struck Cpl. John Magruder in both hands. Officer Robert Sinton was shot in the lower abdomen. Both officers were taken to the MedStar unit at Washington Hospital Center. Magruder was treated and released yesterday and Sinton was listed in serious condition after surgery.

The drama drew a crowd of about 60 residents who watched rifle-carrying police climb onto the roof and surround the L-shaped, three-story building that contains 12 apartments. Within an hour, the street in front of the tattered brick apartments was lined with a small armored vehicle resembling a tank, a large van and more than a dozen police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances.

About noon, officers swung a telephone on a rope from the roof into the apartment window to speak with the man inside. At about 12:45 p.m. he told police he wanted to surrender. Police said he came out of the bedroom, but failed to keep his arms raised as ordered, so police shot a rubber bullet at him to knock him down.

Although schoolchildren and workers stayed home to watch the drama, some of the residents complained about the police action.

"The police could have evacuated the building before they did this. They're putting other people's lives in jeopardy," said Deborah Richardson, 30, whose sister and two children were inside the building during the first two hours of the barricade.

Law insisted that no one in the building was in danger because the suspect was confined to a back bedroom and was shooting out of a window into a vacant park.

Richardson sighed with relief at about 10 a.m. when police led her family and several others down a ladder placed at a window of another first-floor apartment.

Mary Chromiack said she heard about 40 shots before police led her out of the building. "All of this behind some reefer!" Chromiack said, explaining that at least two men had lived in that apartment, which neighbors said was well known as a drug purchase center, since fall.

Law said the apartment door has a small hole cut in it with a wooden slat over the opening. He said purchasers often slide their money through the hole and have their purchase handed back to them.

Last night, hours after police departed, a fire of suspicious origin broke out in the bedroom where the drug suspect had been, destroying its contents, according to a Prince George's County fire spokesman. No one was injured in the blaze, which broke out about 8:30 p.m.