A Prince George's County man who relatives said takes medication for schizophrenia locked himself and six young children inside a Suitland apartment yesterday for more than six hours, authorities said.
The man, identified by relatives as David Robinson, 22, surrendered to authorities about 3:30 p.m., more than six hours after officers arrived at Pinewood Chase Apartments to settle an escalating dispute between Robinson and his mother and sister-in-law. He was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital for an emergency psychiatric evaluation, police said. No charges were immediately filed against him.
The six children, including Robinson's 13-month-old son, Ian Robinson, were released to uniformed officers, who rushed them from the third-floor garden apartment to a waiting ambulance in the building's parking lot after SWAT team members with Prince George's County police were able to divert Robinson's attention from them. Authorities said that the children, who ranged in age from 13 months to 6 years old, were slightly overheated because police had cut off the apartment's electricity but that they were otherwise unharmed physically. The children were given water and soda.
Authorities and relatives said the barricade was the culmination of a dispute Robinson had with his sister-in-law and mother, who had arrived at the apartment to drive his son to a doctor's appointment. Robinson became angry and refused to go with them, and he threw a butcher's knife at his mother outside the four-level building, they said. He did not hit her, and when officers arrived at the scene, in the 5600 block of Regency Park Court, he fled toward the apartment, where his brother and sister-in-law live. Relatives told police that they did not believe that he was further armed.
Robinson's older brother, Greg Robinson, said the situation escalated quickly and was reminiscent of earlier episodes between David Robinson and his family. A diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, David Robinson has been hospitalized several times and has no permanent home, his brother said. Greg Robinson said his brother has been taking medication but sometimes forgets.
"He goes off," said Greg Robinson, 23, a nurse at Southern Maryland Hospital. Dressed in blue scrubs and standing outside the apartment building all afternoon, Greg Robinson said his brother's mental instability "comes from a long time of smoking marijuana and drinking booze."
"He's just not well," he said, adding later that he and his wife claim custody of Ian Robinson because the child's mother is 16 years old and still in high school. On Monday morning, he said, he and his wife, Jennifer Robinson, had planned to take the toddler to a pediatrician, but David Robinson objected and showed up at their apartment, telling them that they couldn't take his son anywhere.
Jennifer Robinson was not inside the apartment when her brother-in-law stormed inside about 9:30 a.m. yesterday. She is the regular day-care provider of the five other children, all of whom live in the surrounding community, Greg Robinson said.
State officials said the apartment is not a licensed day-care center. Yellow crime-scene tape was strung around the apartment complex yesterday, and despite the humid, muggy afternoon, many residents milled about and watched as SWAT members surrounded the building.
Moments after David Robinson, wearing khaki shorts and a black T-shirt, was led out of the building in handcuffs, 6-year-old Daysha, one of the children kept in the apartment, told reporters that he kept them watching television for much of the day. She said the children were afraid of him.
"We were crying for our mommies and daddies," she said, resting her head on the shoulder of her father, Steve Smith, who said he rushed from his job after he was told by a friend that his daughter and 4-year-old son, Shemar, were being held inside the apartment of their day-care provider.
Staff reporter Ruben Castaneda and staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.