Nearly a dozen Prince George's County policemen tried to halt a rampaging tow truck operator early yesterday morning who took them on a 15-minute, high-speed Beltway chase and caused an estimated $4,000 damage to four patrol cars that got in the way.
Police said the tow truck driver - who allegedly reached speeds up to 110 m.p.h. in his tow truck - rammed his way out of three road blocks and hit three patrol cars at speeds as high as 80 m.p.h. before he was captured with two flat tires on a dead-end street.
Police arrested James P. Haynes, 23, of 751 Whiteoak Dr. Belair, Md., who was charged with three counts of assault with intent to avoid apprehension, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, fleeing and eluding police officers, driving on a revoked permit as well as speeding and following too closely. He was being held yesterday in the county detention center in Upper Marlboro in lieu of $6,500 bond.
The incident began shortly after 1 a.m. when off-duty Ofc. Doug Murray reported spotting a tow truck tailgating a tractor-trailer in the southbound lanes of the beltway at Annapolis Road, police said.
When the off-duty patrolman turned on his siren and flashing lights, police said the tow truck operator turned off his headlights and sped off.
According to police, the tow truck, owned by the Keep On Trucking Body and Fender Co., soon came upon a "running road block" just two miles South of Branch Avenue.
Police said the tow truck was forced over to the median strip, but the driver suddenly used its large wooden front bumper to ram a police cruiser and escape. The tow truck operator was now headed in the reverse direction - northbound on the Beltway.
The county patrolmen quickly regrouped and reassembled a second running road block as the tow truck again approached Branch Avenue, this time northbound.
Police said the tow truck rammed through the second road block by broadsiding a police crusier at 60 m.p.h. and pushing it several hundred feet before it spun out of the path of the tow truck.
The tow truck then took the Branch Avenue exit and rammed its way through another road block at Colebrook Drive before it made a U-turn, struck a curb and came to a stop at 19th Aveunes and Iverson Street with two flat tires.
Police said after a brief struggle the suspect was arrested.
The suspect and two conty patrolmen were taken to Prince George's County hospital where they were treated and released for minor injuries, county police said.