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Local blogger surrenders to police after live broadcasting standoff

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A Baltimore blogger wanted on a court-issued warrant refused to come out of his home for hours, broadcasting his discussion with a police negotiator live on the Internet before turning himself in peacefully.

Frank James MacArthur, 47, was taken into custody outside his home in the 600 block of McKewin Ave. at about 11 p.m. — timed, he said, for local news stations — after a standoff lasting more than five hours and which involved the department's SWAT team.

Police were there to serve a warrant issued in June by his probation agent stemming from a 2009 gun case and another for subsequent failure to appear in court, according to court records, and the situation was ratcheted up after police said MacArthur made threatening statements to officers over social media.

Reached by phone Sunday morning, Del. Jill P. Carter, who MacArthur said would act as his lawyer, said she was still figuring out the details of the case and was not officially engaged as the blogger's attorney.

Carter said she had talked briefly with MacArthur after he learned the warrant was open and had suggested it could be linked to outstanding probation fees.

"He initially felt that he was very wronged by the police and I guess the entire criminal justice system," she said. "I think so many times, all people really want is to be able to tell their story. I think that could have been a part of what went on."

Social media in the end was where the situation found a wide audience, with thousands following on Twitter and listening on his web radio channel as MacArthur denounced police and refused to surrender.

At one point, MacArthur called 911 and asked to be patched in to police on the scene, and spoke for hours about his surrender on speaker phone with Lt. Jason Yerg. It became a discussion about his grievances with police, and frustration with the original charge that resulted in the current warrant. He debated with the officer about whether they were focusing too much attention on him.

"Your department has wronged me severely, Lieutenant Yerg," MacArthur said. "Your turn."

"You're spinning this into what it doesn't need to be," Yerg said.

MacArthur, who has said he was never notified about the court date, had been posting on social media for days about his "fugitive" status and predicted that police would try to harm him.

Police officials said some of the messages were threatening toward officers and required a precautionary presence of the SWAT team, particularly once MacArthur refused to come out. Police said he had not complied with an earlier attempt at surrender and could have turned himself in once he learned of the warrant.

At the scene, a helicopter swirled overhead as police waited. MacArthur denied that he was barricading himself but said he wanted to ensure that his surrender was "held in a dignified manner," and said he wanted witnesses.

MacArthur, a cab driver by trade, has been a gadfly opining on local issues for years, through his website, independent news sites, and radio. He has been promoting the radio channel, and during the standoff touted the show and talked about the following he was gaining.

jfenton@baltsun.com

Reporters Ian Ducan and Justin George contributed to this article.

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