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Man in FBI standoff identified

April 03, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HALFWAY -- The residents of a sleepy Halfway neighborhood woke to a roaring bullhorn Thursday as FBI agents tried to negotiate with an accused felon inside a house at 17820 Greentree Terrace.

Steve Whitesides, who lives next door to the house, said he was getting ready for work at about 6:45 a.m. when he heard a disturbance outside.

"I was startled," Whitesides said in an interview Friday. "I saw the flashing lights and heard the FBI say, 'Come out with your hands up.'"

The FBI was at the house Thursday to arrest Raul Alberto Lopez Gonzalez, 32, on a felony charge of conspiracy to distribute and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 or more grams of cocaine, said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. If convicted, Gonzalez faces life in prison without parole.

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Phillips said Gonzalez was to be arraigned late Friday afternoon.

Gonzalez was arrested at about 4:30 p.m. after authorities stormed the house.

Agents from the FBI field offices in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., were at the scene. They were assisted by the Maryland State Police and Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Mark Colgan, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Baltimore, said no one was injured and none of the homes in the neighborhood was damaged.

On Friday morning, several people drove to the end of the cul-de-sac on Greentree Terrace to get a glimpse of where all of the action occurred the day before. Lights were on in a portion of the brick, two-story house, and a first-floor window was broken. No one seemed to be inside.

Mike Bowers of 17811 Greentree Terrace said "the whole cul-de-sac was filled with police" when he awoke at about 7 a.m. Thursday.

"Throughout the day, you could hear them on the bullhorn," Bowers said. "It was quite a fiasco."

He said he opened his home to the FBI and local police so they could use the bathroom.

Bowers said the FBI told him to close his windows a little before 4:30 p.m.

"I guess they were going to shoot gas into the house," Bowers said.

Shortly thereafter, Bowers said he heard a series of loud bangs but didn't look out the window to see what was happening.

"I didn't want to stand around and see someone get shot," Bowers said. "I'm not like that."

As the daylong standoff unfolded, several adults gathered with children behind a police perimeter to catch a glimpse of the action. Some of the onlookers sat in lawn chairs, while others took photographs.

Jessica Morgan, who lives at 17810 Greentree Terrace, said the FBI started arriving in large numbers at about 9:30 a.m.

"You wouldn't think anything like that would go on here," Morgan said of the usually peaceful neighborhood.

She said an FBI agent was talking through the bullhorn in an effort to get Gonzalez to call a telephone number.

Morgan said she saw three children come out of the house at about 10:30 a.m.

She said she started to get scared when the FBI agents put on body armor.

After Gonzalez was arrested, Morgan said she watched as FBI agents removed his earrings, belt and shoestrings.

Gonzalez then was locked in shackles, she said.

"He looked like a normal guy," she said.

Morgan said she never noticed any strange behavior from the people in the house.

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