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Police say barricade suspect was on a 'one-man crime spree'

A suspect on a "one-man crime spree" shot and killed a person Friday after a botched carjacking, authorities said, then took his life after drawing officers into an hours-long standoff at a Baltimore nonprofit.

The morning incident, which closed roads and blocked off businesses in the Charles North neighborhood, was the latest in a string of attacks that police attributed to Robert Hopkins, 28.

The carjacking killing was one of at least three Baltimore homicides Friday, continuing a violent start to the new year.

A male victim was fatally stabbed in Southwest Baltimore, and another was shot and killed near the city's northeastern border, bringing the homicide count to 13 in 2014. By the same time last year, the city had seen just one homicide.

At a news conference, police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said he was "acutely aware" of the violence since New Year's Day. He characterized the incidents as "a little bit more random" than usual, which makes them more difficult to anticipate.

Police said they are responding to the crime by adjusting their deployments and adding manpower to street patrols. "We will maintain and sustain our initiatives," Batts said.

Police said the Charles North case began about 2 a.m., when Hopkins shot a person in a car on Maryland Avenue near West 22nd Street. As police arrived, he holed up in the nearby offices of the Family Tree, which serves abused and neglected children. Police believe Hopkins selected the location at random; officials at the nonprofit organization could not be reached for comment.

He was dead by 10:30 a.m., when police sent a robot into the building.

"Most likely, we're looking at a multitude of other crimes we think he might be responsible for or connected to at the beginning of the year," Batts said during a news conference at police headquarters. Officers had were seeking him on a warrant for an incident Dec. 28 and said witnesses had identified him in two other cases.

Police said they found a gun near Hopkins' body and believe it was the weapon used in the suicide and earlier fatal shooting. The victim in the 2 a.m. shooting, who was dead when police arrived, was identified as 28-year-old Spencer Falcon.

Police said Hopkins' crime spree is believed to have begun Dec. 28 with the theft of a vehicle. The vehicle's owner tracked it down using an OnStar security device and saw Hopkins. Police said Hopkins robbed the victim of $200 and then fired a gun as the man fled.

At 2:30 a.m. Jan. 8, police said, Hopkins shot another driver in a sedan in the 3400 block of Reisterstown Road. The victim's injuries were not life-threatening.

After noon that day, police said, Hopkins entered a sedan in the 1100 block of N. Monroe St., pulled a handgun on a woman and demanded that she perform a sex act. She refused and ran away as Hopkins fired in her direction. The woman was not injured.

On Friday, witnesses led police to the Family Tree building.

Based on the location of Hopkins' wounds, police said, they concluded that his injuries were self-inflicted.

Batts said police did not enter the building or exchange gunfire with Hopkins.

"We sent in a robot to check the location, and he ended his own life talking to one of our negotiators," Batts said.

Hopkins' family declined to comment.

Hopkins was sentenced in 2009 to 10 years in prison with all but two years suspended for a sexual offense, court records show. An attempted-murder case from 2006 was dropped by city prosecutors, and drug cases in 2004 brought sentences of seven and five years with all but time served suspended, according to court records.

Deputy police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez praised the officers who responded to the scene Friday.

While Hopkins was in the building, police at the intersection of East 21st and North Charles streets used a loudspeaker to urge him to answer a phone ringing on the third floor. They said he could resolve the situation peacefully and offered him medical attention if he needed it.

At 8 a.m., numerous people waited at the perimeter of the scene, unable to get to their homes, jobs, cars and a methadone program on Maryland Avenue.

John King, 71, who said he's lived for 30 years about two blocks north of the standoff scene, said police came to his door about 5 a.m. and told him to stay inside.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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