Car­jack­ing, pur­suit leave pan­icked casino-go­ers in­jured

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - MARY­LAND BY STEVE HEN­DRIX steve.hen­drix@wash­post.com

A case of mis­taken iden­tity af­ter a car­jack­ing in the Dis­trict late Fri­day re­sulted in a po­lice pur­suit that ended 20 miles away at Mary­land Live Casino, where sev­eral pan­icked cus­tomers were in­jured as they tried to flee from the re­sult­ing ar­rest ac­tion.

The Anne Arun­del County Fire Depart­ment trans­ported three in­di­vid­u­als from the casino to a hos­pi­tal with in­juries “con­sis­tent with ef­forts to evac­u­ate” the build­ing, ac­cord­ing to spokesman Russ Davies. Three oth­ers de­clined to be trans­ported. Po­lice said the driver of the car was ar­rested with­out in­ci­dent at a slot ma­chine and is be­ing held on a drug charge.

“We didn’t or­der any­one to leave the casino or the casino shut down, but I guess when a bunch of cops come in, peo­ple get wor­ried,” said Glenn Shana­han, a spokesman for Anne Arun­del County po­lice.

The in­ci­dent be­gan about 9:30 p.m. Fri­day when D.C. po­lice re­sponded to re­ports of an armed car­jack­ing in the 800 block of Divi­sion Av­enue NE. They found one per­son with a non­fa­tal gun­shot wound who re­ported that he had been shot by peo­ple who then took his Jeep Chero­kee.

Ac­cord­ing to Shana­han, po­lice search­ing for the ve­hi­cle stopped a sim­i­lar Chero­kee in the vicin­ity. That driver, while not ap­par­ently in­volved in the car­jack­ing, fled the scene. Anne Arun­del po­lice said the driver was wor­ried about hav­ing mar­i­juana in his pos­ses­sion.

“Just bad luck for the bad guys,” Shana­han said. “If he had stayed at the stop, it prob­a­bly would have been fine.”

In­stead, po­lice took up the pur­suit north on In­ter­state 295, be­liev­ing that they were chas­ing a pos­si­ble car­jack­ing sus­pect. The pur­suit was taken over by a Prince Ge­orge’s po­lice he­li­copter, Shana­han said, which fol­lowed the Chero­kee to the Hanover area of Anne Arun­del. The sus­pect was speed­ing, but not ex­ces­sively, he said.

At Mary­land Live, which shares park­ing with Arun­del Mills, po­lice work­ing as mall se­cu­rity of­fi­cers saw the ve­hi­cle en­ter a park­ing garage. Quickly re­view­ing se­cu­rity video, the of­fi­cers fol­lowed the driver into the casino and to a par­tic­u­lar slot ma­chine. Within 20 min­utes, they moved in and took him into cus­tody with­out re­sis­tance.

“Once they de­ter­mined ex­actly where he was, they sent an ar­rest team in,” Shana­han said. “It was pretty seam­less on our end.”

But the ar­rival of a large group of fast-mov­ing of­fi­cers sparked a panic among some casino pa­trons.

In bolt­ing for the ex­its, at least five suf­fered mi­nor in­juries, and one was eval­u­ated for a “med­i­cal emer­gency.” Three of the in­jured de­clined to be taken to a hos­pi­tal.

The casino re­leased a state­ment say­ing they had as­sisted po­lice in the ar­rest.

“En­sur­ing the safety and se­cu­rity of our guests and em­ploy­ees at all times is our top pri­or­ity, and we’ll con­tinue to wel­come mil­lions of guests in a safe man­ner, as we have since open­ing,” spokes­woman Car­men E. Gon­za­les said.

Anne Arun­del po­lice had not re­leased the name of the per­son sus­pected of hav­ing mar­i­juana by Satur­day af­ter­noon. Other charges were pos­si­ble against the in­di­vid­ual, they said. D.C. po­lice said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the car­jack­ing was con­tin­u­ing.

“I guess when a bunch of cops come in [to the casino], peo­ple get wor­ried.” Glenn Shana­han, Anne Arun­del po­lice

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