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Police pursuit of Hancock robbery suspect ends in fatal crash

July 11, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • Two employees were tied up at this Hancock hotel on Limestone Road during an armed robbery between 1:45 to 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

Robbery shakes up motel employee, daughter

CLEAR SPRING -- An Alabama man who robbed a Hancock hotel Sunday morning, binding an employee and her daughter with duct tape, was killed a few hours later when his car crashed during a police pursuit that reached around 119 mph on U.S. 40, police said.

The deceased was Arthur Williams, 63, of Gadsden, Ala., Maryland State Police Sgt. S. Cain said.

The chase reached around 119 mph, according to the computer aboard the suspect's car, Cain said. The pursuit occurred on eastbound U.S. 40 between Clear Spring and Hagerstown.

Cain said there was never any contact between the marked police cruiser, a Ford Crown Victoria, driven by Trooper 1st Class T. Brown, and the Cadillac driven by the suspect.

Brown was not at fault for the crash, she said.

The driver was going "way too fast and lost control," she said.

Cain said the black 2007 Cadillac CTS hit a curb, trees, a utility pole and an unattended parked Ford Expedition, and went end over end into a field.

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The pursuit began around 3:56 a.m. when Brown received a broadcast describing the vehicle involved in an armed robbery of a Hancock hotel and an attempted armed robbery of a Clear Spring-area hotel, police said.

The vehicle description matched that of a car Brown was following on U.S. 40 east of Clear Spring because he suspected drunken driving, according to a state police news release.

Brown turned on his lights and siren to try to get the driver to pull over, the release states.

The driver fled east for about 2 1/2 miles when the car left the road at St. Paul's Road on U.S. 40 and crashed, police said. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Brown was the only officer pursuing the Cadillac, as other police had not reached the scene when the crash occurred, Cain said.

Cain said there was no indication whether the Cadillac driver was drunk. His body was sent to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy.

Evidence of the hotel robbery and attempted robbery were found in the Cadillac, said Cpl. Greg Alton, a detective with the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Video of the attempted robbery confirmed Williams was the suspect, Alton said. He was still wearing the clothes from the attempted robbery, Alton said.

A .38-caliber handgun and the money from the first hotel robbery, at the Super 8 in Hancock, were recovered, Alton said. Duct tape also was found at the scene of the accident, police said.

From witnesses and video evidence of the attempted robbery of the Clear Spring-area hotel, Alton estimated the Super 8 robbery occurred around 1:45 to 2 a.m.

A man entered the hotel, displayed a handgun, and used duct tape and a telephone cord to bind an employee and her daughter at the Super 8 at 118 Limestone Road, according to Alton and the two women. Then he stole an undisclosed amount of money. No customers were disturbed, Alton said.

After the robber left, the two women waited about 45 minutes before freeing themselves and calling police, according to Alton and the women. The robbery was reported around 3 a.m.

Video shows the Cadillac arrived in the parking lot of the Sleep Inn & Suites at 12426 Houck Ave., south of Clear Spring, around 2:10 a.m., Alton said.

The suspect stayed in the parking lot for more than an hour, as the attempted robbery was not reported until 3:54 a.m., Alton said.

Again, the man entered the hotel and displayed a handgun, Alton said. The clerk fled and the man pursued the clerk, but the clerk got away, Alton said.

The man came back and looked for money at the front desk, but found none, Alton said.

A customer was coming into the hotel, but ran when he saw the man jump the counter on his way out the front door, Alton said.


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