- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

BALTIMORE— A drug suspect inside a Baltimore police station yesterday overpowered an officer and barricaded himself in an office for nearly three hours where he held a female employee hostage with a pair of scissors.

The incident began around noon, in the Baltimore Police Department’s Northeast District headquarters on Argonne Drive. Police were questioning Rodney Bethea, 21, who had been arrested in connection with a narcotics investigation, according to Maj. Antonio Rodriguez, Northeast District commander.

“The suspect was in custody. He was handcuffed and he managed to get the handcuffs in front of him, and that’s when he assaulted the officer,” Maj. Rodriguez said.

Mr. Bethea then fled into an office where a female civilian was performing clerical work. He locked the door and grabbed a pair of scissors, preventing the woman from escaping.

Police summoned a hostage negotiator and communicated with Mr. Bethea by telephone throughout the incident.

The injured officer had suffered minor cuts around his head, face and hands and was transported to Mercy Medical Center where he was treated and released.

Maj. Rodriguez said he was not aware of any threats Mr. Bethea made against the woman and that the only thing he asked for during negotiations was a few cigarettes. Police are still investigating what drove Mr. Bethea to attack the officer, Maj. Rodriguez said.

Outside the building, officers cordoned off the street in front of the station, closed the road to vehicle traffic and diverted Morgan State University students as they crossed into the area from the campus. University dorm rooms are adjacent to the police station.

Police also deployed a SWAT team in and around the building, as members of the fire department stretched an aerial ladder to the station’s roof from a fire truck parked out front and several ambulances idled nearby.

Just after 3 p.m., Maj. Rodriguez emerged from the station and told a cluster of reporters that the female police department employee was released uninjured and that Mr. Bethea had been taken back into custody and transported downtown to be charged.

A police spokesman said last night that Mr. Bethea was charged with drug possession and would also be charged with false imprisonment, two counts of first-degree assault, second-degree escape and assault with a deadly weapon.

Maj. Rodriguez said police are investigating whether proper procedures were followed.

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