Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Policing the Pathways

From HoCo police:

Howard County police have charged a Columbia teen for inappropriately touching a woman on an Oakland Mills pathway and are asking anyone who may have been a victim to come forward.

The teen was charged on Aug. 13 as a juvenile with fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault for an incident that occurred on June 30 in Oakland Mills.

Police are investigating three additional cases in which women were inappropriately touched while walking on pathways in that vicinity in April and July. Detectives are working to determine if the same suspect may have been involved.

In the April case, the suspect approached a woman on a Sunday afternoon. In the other cases, the suspect approached the women on weekday mornings. The suspect engaged the women in conversation, then began to make lewd comments and touched the women inappropriately. In all of the cases reported to police, the women fled on foot to safety.

In an attempt to identify the suspect, on Aug. 4, an undercover female officer was stationed on a pathway in the area where the crimes occurred. The teen approached the plainclothes officer and solicited her for prostitution. He was subsequently charged. Through investigation, police then linked the suspect to the June 30 incident.

The teen is described as a black male; 6 feet, 2 inches tall; 160 pounds; with brown hair, brown eyes, a medium complexion and short hair. Anyone who may have been a victim or who has information is asked to call police at 410-313-STOP. Callers may remain anonymous.

Police have recently increased patrols in this area of Columbia. As a result, patrol officers also made a quick arrest in an armed street robbery Saturday.

Police responded to a footbridge over U.S. 29 on Saturday for a reported armed street robbery. Two victims were sitting on a pathway near Lake Kittamaqundi when two unknown suspects approached them, displayed a gun and stole a backpack and mp3 player. The suspects fled on the footbridge over U.S. 29 toward Stevens Forest. The victims called police and provided a description of the suspects. Patrol officers in the area responded quickly and located two suspects matching the description provided by the victims. The suspects led police on a foot pursuit and were apprehended in the 5600 block of Stevens Forest Road. The suspects were in possession of the backpack and mp3 player that were reported stolen moments earlier.

Gehiji S. Thomas, 19, of 3005 Belmont Avenue in Baltimore, and Christian G. Graham, 16, of 9426 Farewell Road in Columbia (charged as an adult), are facing two counts of armed robbery, two counts of robbery, using a handgun in the commission of a felony, two counts of first- and second-degree assault, three counts of theft, two counts of reckless endangerment and possession of a firearm by a person under age 21.

Thomas and Graham are being held at Howard County Detention Center. Thomas is being held without bond, and Graham is being held on $50,000 bond.

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