Driver killed at NSA had history of robbery, prostitution

FBI identifies driver killed while attempting to enter NSA Monday as 27-year-old Ricky Hall.

Federal authorities on Tuesday identified the driver killed while trying to ram a stolen SUV through a security checkpoint at the National Security Agency headquarters as a Baltimore resident with a criminal history for robbery and prostitution.

The FBI named Ricky Shawatza Hall, 27, as the driver who died. According to police, Hall and another person ended up at the gates of the huge spy agency Monday morning after stealing the vehicle from a 60-year-old man with whom they had traveled to a budget motel in nearby Elkridge.

A close friend said Hall identified as transsexual and went by the name Mya. Authorities said both people in the SUV were wearing women's clothing but not in an attempt to disguise themselves.

Police opened fire on the pair after Hall failed to heed instructions to turn back from the NSA gates and rammed into a police vehicle, according to the NSA. The other person in the SUV was injured, as was an officer working the security checkpoint.

The other suspect was still being treated at an area hospital, the FBI said, and has not been identified. Federal agents and prosecutors are weighing whether to file charges in the case.

The injured officer was released from the hospital after treatment Monday.

While the case focused national attention on the unusual incident at the NSA, the secretive agency on the sprawling Fort Meade complex, the FBI quickly ruled out a terror attack. Authorities believe the pair might have ended up on the base by mistake.

"There is no information being released at this time regarding motive," an FBI spokeswoman, Amy Thoreson, said in a statement. "However, FBI Baltimore does not believe this is related to terrorism."

The 60-year-old picked up Hall and the other person, both strangers, in Baltimore and drove to the Terrace Motel on U.S. 1 where he checked in around 7:30 a.m. Monday, Howard County police said.

The motel stands among strip malls along the busy highway also known as Washington Boulevard, offering small rooms with pastel pictures above the beds.

A sign out front advertises "hot rates to keep you warm" and "resting rates" starting at $40 for two hours in a king room. Employees at the motel said they had been instructed not to talk to the news media. Authorities mistakenly identified it as a Jessup motel on Monday.

The 60-year-old Baltimore man, who has not been identified, told officers the other two stole the Ford SUV when he stepped out of the motel room, according to police.

It's not clear which route Hall drove from there until authorities say she arrived shortly before 9 a.m. at the security checkpoint leading to the NSA, which is accessible from an exit on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

At the entrance, according to the NSA, Hall would not turn back and instead accelerated toward an NSA police vehicle. At that point an officer fired shots.

Authorities have not confirmed that gunfire killed Hall or injured the passenger.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, local television images showed the wreckage of the stolen Ford and a damaged police vehicle near the gate.

News of Hall's death rippled through Baltimore's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community Tuesday.

Tyelil "Ty Ty" Ishway, the friend of Hall's, said Hall went by the name Mya and identified as transsexual. The two became acquainted years ago while living together in a group home and remained close, he said.

Hall was independent and sometimes "stubborn," and had "depressed" days and happy days, Ishway said. Estranged from family, Hall had been staying with other people in the transgender community or jumping from "motel to motel," Ishway said.

Hall "was loved," Ishway said. "People was always there, and would be by her side."

Hall had an arrest record that included convictions for robbery and prostitution. When arrested in one prostitution case, Hall had told an undercover officer that she was a transsexual, according to police documents.

Alfred Guillaume, an attorney who had represented Hall in other cases, said Hall did not identify as transsexual with him. The attorney recalled his client as pleasant and polite.

"He was always very respectful with me in my dealings with me," Guillaume said. "He wasn't a difficult client at all."

Friends and advocates still had questions Tuesday about how Hall died.

James Burrell Jr., of Women Accepting Responsibility, which advocates for transgender women in Baltimore, said he wanted more information about the circumstances surrounding the incident and wondered whether police used "excessive force" when opening fire.

The transgender community often distrusts law enforcement because of a history of discrimination, Burrell said. He added that Hall may have panicked for fear of arrest in a stolen vehicle and was trying to flee the scene, not hurt officers.

"When people realize that someone is transgender or either gay or lesbian, the treatment changes," Burrell said, adding that they may have felt they were in danger and "decided to take off."

The FBI and the NSA did not respond to questions about whether the investigation would examine the conduct of the officers on the scene.

Signs are posted before the checkpoint, warning unauthorized personnel not to enter. Fort Meade, with 51,000 uniformed personnel, civilian employees and contractors, is the largest workplace in the state and the third-largest Army installation in the United States.

Baltimore Sun reporters Jessica Anderson and Justin George contributed to this article.

iduncan@baltsun.com

krector@baltsun.com

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