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Three passengers in stolen car in custody following chase

May 09, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Three passengers from a stolen 2001 Mazda 626 were in custody Wednesday night after Hagerstown City Police "watched" the fleeing vehicle from a block away as it drove the wrong way into the North End.

The driver was still at large late Wednesday, as was the silver vehicle with Md. tags JER 895, police said.

Officer Tim Rossiter said the incident began at 7:09 p.m. when police got a call from a woman who said she had just been assaulted in the 300 block of Summit Avenue.

"We met the woman there in her vehicle and saw there were three men in a car next to her and a fourth man standing next to her car," Rossiter said.

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The woman told police the man outside her car put a loaded .357-caliber handgun into her car, got back in the car with the three other men and fled, Rossiter said. The gun was later recovered from the woman's car.

The silver Mazda went northbound on Walnut Street with Rossiter in pursuit but when the car swung onto Prospect Street going the wrong way, the chase was abandoned.

"I used my discretion not to follow going the wrong way," Rossiter said, noting that the Mazda had already dodged several oncoming cars. Instead, he and other officers began surveillance of the fleeing Mazda from a block away.

In the meantime, plainclothes agents of the Washington County Narcotics Task Force already in the north end of Hagerstown were listening to the chase and got set up to intercept, Rossiter said.

At Hamilton Boulevard, three of the men got out of the car and the NTF agents and five city police cruisers converged, taking the men into custody. The driver drove away in the stolen Hertz rental vehicle and was still at large at presstime.

"All three of the passengers are being held on charges of auto theft and transporting a handgun," Sgt. Mark Renner said. Police were still trying to determine their correct identities through FBI records at presstime.

Lt. Tom Alexander praised Rossiter for his "good use of discretion not to pursue the fleeing vehicle the wrong way."

No one was injured and no vehicles were struck during the incident, which occurred less than two hours after police chased and stopped another vehicle in the North End, but not before it plowed into three parked cars.

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