- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2000

DUNDALK, Md. A hostage drama ended last night when police shot and killed Joseph C. Palczynski moments after two of his hostages escaped and police rescued a boy from the apartment where they had been held since Friday.

Lynn Whitehead and Andy McCord escaped through a window while their son Bradley McCord, 12, and Palcyznki slept, Baltimore County Police spokesman Bill Toohey said.

Police tactical squads then burst into the home, rescuing Bradley and fatally wounding Palczynski, Mr. Toohey said.

"Joseph Palczynski is dead. He was was shot by Baltimore County tactical officers shortly after 11 tonight, and died at 11:05 at the scene," Mr. Toohey said.

Palczynski was asleep on the living-room sofa while Bradley slept on the kitchen floor.

Shortly before spokeswoman Cpl. Vickie Warehime announced the escape, two vans with police in tactical gear were seen speeding from their command center.

Whether one of the hostages had been injured during the ordeal was not immediately apparent.

After days of sporadic gunfire at police vehicles and other targets outside the home, a single shot was fired inside the apartment Monday afternoon, police said.

Palczynski is accused of abducting his former girlfriend, Tracy Whitehead, and fatally shooting four persons two weeks ago. Police say he also forced a Virginia man to drive him back to Baltimore County, where he eluded police for 10 days.

Then, on Friday evening he burst into the apartment of Miss Whitehead's mother, taking her and the McCords hostage.

Police got plenty of suggestions on how to end the stalemate.

"A thing I can't figure is, if they're giving [Palczynski] food, why can't they just put something in the food put them all to sleep," said Eric Anthony, who watched from behind the police rope line.

The Baltimore County police communications office needed extra staff to deal with the calls.

The office has taken hundreds of calls since Palczynski took the hostages Friday evening.

By early this week, Sgt. John Collum had taken about 300 phone calls from people suggesting that police drug the food they sent in.

"It does get to a point where if I hear one more food suggestion, I'm going to scream," he said.

Others were more original.

"I've had three or four that want to have an air strike against the house because we [supposedly] have those smart bombs that can hit him, but not hurt the victims," Sgt. Collum said.

Others suggested arming the robot that delivered food to the house with a shotgun so it can shoot Palczynski when he opened the door.

Some advice was less violent.

"I've had calls from ministers, priests, rabbis, swamis from every religion known on Earth who want to pray him out," Sgt. Collum said.

But several communications workers said their favorite idea came from a Detroit man, who suggested flying a helicopter equipped with giant magnets and over the house.

The theory? All metal, including Palczynski's gun, would fly up to the ceiling, allowing police to storm the building.

"I'd like them to understand that we have professional folks doing this job," Sgt. Collum said. "But I'm grateful that we've got so many people who try to help and offer suggestions."

The ordeal tested the patience of residents in the neighborhood east of Baltimore who have been trapped inside their homes or banned from returning. One resident was arrested Monday trying to sneak back into the area. Another was arrested at dawn yesterday and claimed to have a plan "to end it all." He was taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

Others found ways to reach their families without getting in trouble. Steve Tobias, with a police escort, tossed plastic bags of groceries over a high fence to his wife, who was stuck inside their home with their two children.

Police also tried to respond to residents worried about their pets being without food and water for days. Police, who earlier in the standoff shot a family's dog that was interfering with surveillance, went in with an armored vehicle yesterday to rescue three dogs from a home. They made several runs later in the day, retrieving some birds, a dog and a cat.

Mr. Toohey urged residents who were kept from their homes to keep the situation in perspective.

"Let's not lose track of what started this," Mr. Toohey said. "We believe this man has killed four people, kidnapped two. He's unpredictable and violent."

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