Accused killer Joseph C. Palczynski's two-week crime spree came to a violent end late last night when Baltimore County police SWAT team members shot him to death in the living room of a Dundalk rowhouse where he had been holding three hostages since Friday.
Two of the three hostages escaped out a window while Palczynski slept on a
family room couch shortly before the SWAT team broke into the house. The
third, a 12-year-old boy who was sleeping on the kitchen floor, was later led
to safety by police.
The escapes "prompted us to go in or that boy was dead," said Police Chief
Terrence B. Sheridan.
No officers were injured.
The events ended a 97-hour standoff that began when Palczynski, 31, shot
his way into the apartment. He had been on the run since March 7, when, police
say, he abducted his former girlfriend, Tracy Whitehead, and fatally shot the
couple she was living with and a neighbor who tried to come to her aid.
A day later, he allegedly shot and killed a passing motorist in an
Lynn Whitehead, Tracy Whitehead's mother, jumped out the front window of
the first-floor apartment in the 7500 block of Lange St. about 10:20 p.m. and
her boyfriend, Andy McCord, followed about 20 minutes later. SWAT team members
broke through a window and shot Palczynski, who had a gun on his lap under a
blanket on the couch. They then escorted 12-year-old Bradley McCord -- Andy
and Lynn's son -- out of the apartment.
"They have Joe. They have Joe," neighbors screamed shortly after the
operation was over.
"I am here to report that we had a successful operation," Sheridan told a
crowd of reporters at the command center in Dundalk as residents and police
officers hugged each other. "Three hostages are safe because we had a
Responding to angry criticism that police were slow to resolve the
situation, Sheridan said, "Patience is what counted."
"Notwithstanding some of the criticism and the impatience, we had to stay
focused," said County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger. "In my opinion,
[Palczynski] felt he was the star of the show. He loved this. This was his
show, this was his game.
"We're blessed. We're happy. And frankly, we're a little lucky."
Thankful family members praised God yesterday for answering their prayers
over the ordeal.
"I had a feeling Lynn would do something," said Jean Jones, 47, who called
her cousin "a fighter. She just probably had enough of it."
Jones rushed to the scene when she heard of the escape and ran to embrace
her sister, Debbie Hands, 48, of Armistead Gardens, who said, "I thought he
would kill them."
Lynn Whitehead's son, Bobby, 14, said: "We drove here as fast as we could.
We are just so relieved."
Earlier yesterday, police had speculated about the condition of one of the
hostages believed injured by a gunshot in the apartment Monday.
Last night, police said Palczynski said one of the hostages had been shot,
but that proved to be false.
Neighbors had said that Palczynski had placed the younger McCord in front
of an apartment window on more than one occasion. A source close to the
investigation confirmed that people in the house had been used as shields.
Hostages safe; fugitive killed
4-day siege ends as adults flee their sleeping captor; Police raid home, shoot Palczynski, rescue boy hostage; Window escape stuns police
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