Sheri≠ runs after man wanted in killing, and it wasn’t their first en­counter

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - VIR­GINIA BY PA­TRI­CIA SUL­LI­VAN

When a slay­ing sus­pect, wanted by Prince Ge­orge’s County and de­scribed as armed and dan­ger­ous, aban­doned his ve­hi­cle Wed­nes­day night in Old Town Alexan­dria and took off run­ning, Sher­iff Dana Lawhorne had one re­ac­tion — chase him.

No mat­ter that it’s been at least 12 years since Lawhorne (D) got into a footrace with a sus­pected crim­i­nal, or that the 59-year-old sher­iff is more than twice as old as the sus­pect.

“I was like Se­abis­cuit with a bro­ken leg,” Lawhorne said, adding that his chief deputy, Tim Glee­son, who also joined the pur­suit, “took off like a bolt of light­ning” and ac­tu­ally helped Alexan­dria po­lice cor­ner the sus­pect.

It was ca­nine of­fi­cer Car­los Rolon who ar­rested Charles Ro­main in an al­ley near the King Street Metro sta­tion. Ro­main faces first- and sec­ond-de­gree mur­der charges in con­nec­tion with the shoot­ing death of Lafeal Sin­clair, 29, on Tues­day in Suit­land.

Lawhorne was a city po­lice of­fi­cer for 27 years be­fore be­ing elected sher­iff in 2005. Since then, as best he can re­call, he has not run after a sus­pect.

“I live in the city. I’m al­ways here,” Lawhorne said, adding that he lis­tens to the po­lice ra­dio when he’s in his car. “If I’m in the area, I’ll stop and back them up.”

About 9 p.m. Wed­nes­day, Lawhorne and Glee­son were leav­ing a cer­e­mony hon­or­ing a deputy at the Amer­i­can Le­gion near City Hall. In their cars, they heard an un­der­cover of­fi­cer re­port that he’d spot­ted Ro­main driv­ing near po­lice head­quar­ters, in the 3100 block of Duke Street, a lit­tle less than 21/2 miles from their lo­ca­tion.

Lawhorne fig­ured that Ro­main would head to the free­way or into town. Lawhorne drove west un­til he spot­ted Ro­main’s car, trailed by the un­der­cover of­fi­cer’s ve­hi­cle, com­ing east on King Street near the Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Ma­sonic Na­tional Memo­rial.

The sher­iff fol­lowed and joined in the po­lice ef­fort to block Ro­main’s ve­hi­cle.

Soon, Ro­main jumped out and ran, “pitch­ing his gun” en route, Lawhorne said. The sher­iff chased him, as did his deputy and the city po­lice, but lost him.

“I let the younger of­fi­cers fin­ish the job,” Lawhorne said. “But there was a day . . .”

On Thurs­day, Lawhorne found out that he had come in con­tact with Ro­main be­fore. Two years ago, the sher­iff hon­ored him along with sev­eral other in­mates at the Alexan­dria de­ten­tion cen­ter for earn­ing their gen­eral equiv­a­lency diplo­mas while in­car­cer­ated.

But Lawhorne said he didn’t rec­og­nize Ro­main when he saw him bail­ing out of the car Wed­nes­day night. He was just re­spond­ing to a po­lice call to be on the look­out for a sus­pect.

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