Before he got into his car, Adkins remarked that at least he was "fat and free."

Over the course of five hours, the team hit 18 houses.

They found a man sleeping on a couch amid a clutter of shoes, clothes and unopened mail in a home with no power. Lanterns and a kerosene heater sat near him. Police were looking for his uncle, but the man said he hadn't been in the house for months. Then, he added, "There's nobody here that I know of."

The comment heightened the team's suspicion, and the officers checked every room with no results.

At an apartment complex, they encountered a South Asian family who spoke little English; none of them fit the profile of the suspect sought. At another, they called in an interpreter to speak to an El Salvadoran woman, who told officers the man they wanted had left the country. A sergeant called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to confirm that.

Searching for a woman at a boarding house, they stumbled upon a man who had an open warrant for an assault charge. They arrested him, enraging a woman with him who was carrying a baby.

"He's black! He's black!" she yelled. "You're all messing with him for no reason!"

They led the man away with his hands behind his back in plastic ties as he cursed at the officers.

Confrontations are common. In 1999, while serving a warrant in an attempted-murder case, the suspect split Sgt. Mike Hennlein's police vest with a bullet before shooting himself in the head.

"Been shot at five times," Hennlein said, "only hit once."

Hennlein, a 25-year veteran, said an Ernest Hemingway quote sums up why he hopes to retire on the task force: "There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter."

Warrant officers recently encountered a man who slipped out his window and ran on rowhouse roofs until he jumped, hurt himself and was cornered. They have found people tucked in cupboards, between mattresses and box springs and hidden behind fake walls.

At the house on Coldspring Lane, the suspect's son tipped off officers that he was in the basement. The officers scrambled down a dark stairwell followed by the suspect's mother who continued to claim, "He's not here!"

Hennlein spotted a bed with covers that seemed unfurled in a hurry and felt it. It was warm.

The team searched every corner until Hennlein pulled back a hidden door disguised as a wood-paneled wall. He spied a T-shirt and drew out his Taser.

"Let's do this the easy way," he said. "The red dot you see is a Taser."

The suspect's mother told her son the police are carrying guns.

"I'm coming out," the man said. It was the team's fourth and final arrest Wednesday.

jgeorge@baltsun.com

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