Darius J. Smotherson

Darius J. Smotherson, 19, of Kannapolis, N.C., was arrested in Laurel on Tuesday morning. Smotherson was wanted in Kannapolis in connection with the alleged armed robbery and murder of Daniel Cooper, 17. (Maryland State Police photo / June 26, 2012)

A 19-year-old man wanted in North Carolina in connection with the alleged armed robbery and murder of a teenager last month was arrested Tuesday morning at a welcome center off Interstate 95 in Laurel after his Baltimore-bound bus from Atlanta stopped there, Maryland State Police said.

Darius J. Smotherson, of Kannapolis, N.C., was arrested at the rest stop near Route 32 in Howard County without incident and is being held at the state police Waterloo Barrack, where Kannapolis Police Department detectives were expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon to begin interviewing him, police said.

Police will attempt to have Smotherson extradited to North Carolina during a hearing Wednesday morning, said Lt. Terry Spry, a Kannapolis Police Department spokesman.

Members of the Maryland State Police State Apprehension Team were alerted Monday by detectives at the Kannapolis Police Department that Smotherson was believed to be on a bus headed into the Baltimore area, police said.

Spry said police do not know why Baltimore was Smotherson's destination but that the investigation is ongoing.

Smotherson is charged with fatally shooting Daniel Cooper, 17, in the neck about 3:10 p.m. May 21 in the 400 block of Snow Street, in the Rowan County side of Kannapolis, which is just north of Charlotte, Spry said.

After being alerted to Smotherson's likely route north from Atlanta, which Kannapolis police learned through a Crime Stoppers tip, Maryland State Police investigators began conducting surveillance at locations in Baltimore and Laurel where the bus was likely to stop, police said.

About 7:30 a.m., members of the apprehension team doing surveillance at the Laurel stop spotted Smotherson exiting the bus with other passengers.

The bus, which investigators boarded to speak with the driver, was about 80 percent full of passengers, said Greg Shipley, a Maryland State Police spokesman.

Smotherson is wanted on charges of murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, Spry said. The district attorney in Kannapolis has not yet determined whether the charge will be first-degree murder or a lesser murder charge, Spry said.

Two other men who were allegedly involved in the robbery and shooting of Cooper — Damarick Harper, 17, and Reginald Clark, 35 — have also been arrested, Spry said.

Police believe Smotherson was the shooter, Spry said.

All three men were identified as suspects in the case within 24 hours of the shooting, and police had been looking for Smotherson since, Spry said.

If Smotherson waives his right to fight extradition, Kannapolis detectives will transport him back to North Carolina. If he fights extradition, a legal process will begin to obtain an extraditable warrant to force him back to the state, police said.

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun