One of the cars stolen during last month's spate of car thefts in Howard County was involved in last week's violent police chase in Oakland Mills, illustrating how this nonviolent property crime can lead to far more dangerous situations.
Police say the incident began with the theft of a dark blue Toyota Camry on May 23 in Elkridge and ended Saturday, when a driver tried to plow into a police officer and was met with gunfire and eventually arrested.
Ledell Maxwell Padmore, 21, of the 7300 block of Mossy Brink Court, was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, first- and second-degree assault and vehicle theft. He is being held without bail at the Howard County jail in Jessup.
Police say the car also is linked to an attempted murder in Annapolis that occurred five days after the car was reported stolen. The violent outburst came on the heels of a busy weekend for car thieves. Between May 20 and 24, 11 cars were stolen in Howard: Seven of the thefts occurred in Columbia and three in Elkridge, and a 48-foot-long trailer was taken from a Savage parking lot.
Howard police said stolen cars often wind up being used in other, more serious, crimes.
"These criminals will very commonly steal a vehicle to use in a crime," said Sgt. Morris Carroll, spokesman for the Howard County police department.
Carroll said it is common for detectives to find a stolen car at a robbery scene. "They simply don't want to use their car. It keeps them from being identified," he said.
Howard officers keep a computer database of the license plate numbers of all stolen cars. Any patrolling officer can check the list from his or her police car. Officers do so during all traffic stops.
Sometimes when officers notice a stolen car, the result is a hair-raising car chase. These car chases result in more police deaths than gunfights, according to police statistics. They also occasionally cause the death of an innocent bystander, followed by costly lawsuits against police.
The Oakland Mills case was a double dose of danger.
Police say it began about 7:50 p.m. Saturday, when an officer noticed the blue Camry on White Acre Road. Its Maryland license number was on the stolen cars list; the car also had been seen at a crime scene in Annapolis.
The driver of the car turned into a dead-end in a parking lot on the 5900 block of Stevens Forest Road. The officer tried to block in the Camry, but the driver maneuvered around the patrol car. A second officer, on foot, ran to the scene and stood in front of the speeding car, motioning for it to stop. Instead, Padmore allegedly accelerated.
The officer, fearing his life was in danger, fired at the Camry, then jumped out of the way, police said. But the fleeing Camry was going so fast the driver couldn't make a turn and plowed into group of parked cars. It was a violent accident: One of the parked cars was knocked over the curb and onto a lawn 20 feet away.
The driver got out and ran. A search by officers, several police dogs and a helicopter did not find him. The passenger, William Raymond Carter, 35, of the 6700 block of Quiet Hours in Columbia, was arrested. He also was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, first- and second-degree assault and vehicle theft. He is being held without bail in Jessup.
Padmore was arrested two days later, on Memorial Day, in Annapolis. Annapolis police received a tip that he was in a house in the first block of Clay Street. They found him with a female minor, who had been reported as a runaway in Howard County. They also allegedly found marijuana in his possession. He was arrested and handed over to Howard police.
Though the Camry he was allegedly driving during the car chase has been connected to an attempted murder in Annapolis, Padmore has not been connected to the crime.