Prince George's County police ended a five-hour standoff at a Landover apartment complex yesterday when they detonated an explosive device on the apartment's balcony and arrested eight persons inside.
No shots were fired and no one was injured in the incident, which started about 3 a.m. at the Sussex Street Station Apartments on Landover Road, police said. Cpl. Bruce Gentile, a police spokesman, said detectives, accompanied by uniformed officers, went to 7450 Landover Rd. to serve an arrest warrant in connection with the death on Sept. 28 of James Oliver.
Oliver, 33, was shot in the left side after he and two other men argued about a drug transaction in front of an apartment complex at 7314 Landover Rd., police said.
"When our officers knocked on the door," Gentile said, "someone inside quickly opened the door and then slammed it shut." But officers saw weapons on a table in the apartment, and the county's Emergency Services Team was called to the apartment complex.
Gentile said the suspect wanted in the homicide, along with several other persons, barricaded themselves inside the apartment and did not respond to repeated attempts of hostage negotiators to contact them by telephone or over a loudspeaker.
About 7:45 a.m., Gentile said, an officer placed a device police called a "thunder flasher" on the balcony. Negotiators made a final attempt to contact the suspects, he said. When that failed, Gentile said, they detonated the device.
The thunder flasher, which creates a bright flash of light and a loud noise, shattered the patio's sliding-glass door. At the moment it exploded, Gentile said, officers stormed the front door and arrested seven men and one woman.
Police emphasized yesterday that the thunder flasher was used to create a diverson to give officers time to get into the aparment. The last time police used the device was in May 1985, when a suspected drug dealer barricaded himself in a Chillum apartment and injured two officers.
"This device is used to allow our police officers the time needed to make an arrest without injuring themselves or others," Gentile said. "We could not evacuate the building because we knew the suspects were armed and it would have been difficult to have people walking around the hallways.
"We could not use tear gas because there is always a danger of fire or with the gas seeping outside of the apartment," he said.
Police found a suspected controlled dangerous substance in the apartment. They have not released the names of the eight persons arrested.Staff writer Joseph E. Bouchard contributed to this report.