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Suspect in Arundel mall killings gunned down by police

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The man suspected of fatally shooting two people outside Arundel Mills mall in Hanover late Friday night was shot and killed, and a police officer was wounded, in an exchange of gunfire in a residential area of Prince George's County on Saturday morning, police said.

Cpl. Henry Tippett, a spokesman for Prince George's County police, said the suspect, James Coleman, 22, was tracked by Anne Arundel police investigators to his house in the 8100 block of Rydal Road in District Heights.

Tippett could not say how Coleman was connected to the two people who were found dead in the parking lot outside Dave and Buster's restaurant and game arcade at Arundel Mills shortly before midnight Friday.

Tippett said Prince George's and Anne Arundel police surrounded Coleman's house about 8 a.m. Saturday. He said police had information that the suspect was armed, so they waited outside the house, trying to persuade him to surrender. One officer spoke to the suspect on a bullhorn, urging him to drop his weapons and come out, Tippett said.

After about two hours, Coleman stepped out of the front door of the house carrying a shotgun and an AK-47 assault rifle, Tippett said. He walked to the driveway, then fired the shotgun, wounding a male officer in the face, torso and leg. Police then fired back with their handguns, hitting Coleman several times and killing him.

The wounded officer, whose identity has not been released, was expected to fully recover from his injuries, Tippett said. He has been on the police force about 10 years, Tippett said.

Anne Arundel County police said in a news release that information from witnesses lead detectives to the home in District Heights. Investigators declined to elaborate.

According to court records, in 2008 Coleman pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of a firearm by a person under 21. He was sentenced to five years in prison on the firearm charge and four years on the robbery charge though in both instances all but one year was suspended. He was scheduled to begin his sentence in May 2009.

Lt. Francis Tewey, an Anne Arundel police spokesman, said earlier Saturday that the shooting outside the mall was "probably not a random act of violence."

The victims in the mall shooting were identified by Anne Arundel police as Chonsay Laquez Green, 30, of the 4200 block of Torque St. in Capitol Heights; and Jeneen Desiree Dunn, 25, of the 7700 block of the Hanover Parkway in Greenbelt. Green and Dunn, who were found lying on the pavement of the parking lot, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Jennifer Nappier of Odenton said she was leaving Dave and Buster's through the exit that leads directly to the parking lot late Friday night when she saw several police cars, their lights flashing, and officers directing people to other exits. She said the police had cordoned off the area with crime-scene tape.

The restaurant was "packed," she said. She said she heard no shots and did not know anything unusual was going on until she and her friend tried to leave after spending about two hours at the restaurant.

Nappier, 30, a lawyer and hearing officer with the state Department of Licensing and Regulation, said she goes to the mall about twice a month. Asked whether the shooting would discourage her from returning, she said it would depend on whether it turned out the crime was "random" or something personal between the people involved.

David Jones, former chairman of No Slots at the Mall, a group that fought unsuccessfully last year against a plan by Cordish Cos. to build a slots casino at Arundel Mills, said the killings raise the same concerns about police protection that his group pointed out in its campaign. He said county police are stretched thin and that the casino — scheduled to open next year — will only add to the burden.

"To add a casino, to add an additional strain on public resources" without providing more money is "irresponsible," said Jones, who lives about a 11/2 miles from the mall in Arundel Preserve. He faulted the mall management for not providing more security and said he's not confident that the arrangement with Cordish will give police the resources they need. Joseph Weinberg, president of development at Cordish, declined to comment.

Douglas Perry, the president of neighborhood association right next to the mall, said the group has for years been fielding its own neighborhood watch and working with county police to keep the area safe. He said these efforts will become particularly important looking ahead to the casino's opening next year, which is likely to bring more nighttime activity.

"We're taking actions we think are appropriate to make sure we have a safe neighborhood," said Perry, president of the Villages of Dorchester Homeowners Association, a development of 838 townhouses and single-family homes that surrounds the mall on three sides. "We just need to continue to properly fund those public servants" to ensure effective police protection, he said.

Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones, a Democrat who represents that area, said the shooting appeared to be a "very isolated type of incident," and not a random act that would raise more concern.

"I don't believe it raises a great deal of concern in that regard," said Jones, who said he could recall robberies and carjackings at the mall, but he believed this was the first time someone had been killed there. "If it were a random act, I would be concerned, very concerned. What we're dealing with could have happened anywhere."

An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the party affiliation of Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones. The Sun regrets the error.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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