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Neighbors hunkered down as police searched quiet Anne Arundel peninsula for suspect in cop shooting

Donald Macewem a Stoney Beach resident recalls the events after two Anne Arundel County detectives were shot.

The crash startled Joe Palazzi and he ran to the door of his house tucked away on a peninsula in northern Anne Arundel County. Outside, police lights flashed.

A driver had smashed into his two parked cars. Officers surrounded the wreckage with their guns drawn. Minutes passed; Palazzi watched for some sign of the driver. Nothing.

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The driver made off late Wednesday night, and so began a tense manhunt that ended Thursday afternoon and gripped the quiet peninsula.

Shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday, police announced they had arrested a “person of interest” in the shooting of two county detectives Wednesday night. The danger, police say, is over. Officers had chased the gunman into the Stoney Beach neighborhood, where he crashed outside Palazzi’s house and got away before his capture.

Before his arrest, police were exhausting all options to track him down while also asking neighbors to stay safe following the shooting of two Anne Arundel County detectives.

“If you see something in your yard, give us a call," said Sgt. Jacklyn Davis, a police spokeswoman. "­­You’ll see we have 50 officers in the area right now, so you will see us. You will see our canines. You may see a helicopter flying low sometime soon. Stay in your houses.”

Police have not identified the arrested suspect, but Davis said earlier in the day he was wanted in the killing of a Glen Burnie man. Police found the man dead — they have not identified him either — in his home Wednesday evening with injuries to his chest.

Hours later around 11 p.m., police spotted the victim’s car near a gas station at the border of Baltimore and Anne Arundel. They tried to stop the driver, but the person opened fire and shot Detective Scott Ballard.

Ballard, a 22-year veteran, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

Police chased the car down Fort Smallwood Road and into the townhouse community of Stony Beach. There, the driver shot Detective Ian Preece. A 13-year veteran, he was hospitalized in stable condition.

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Officers shut down the main road in and out of the peninsula. They searched the neighborhood with dogs and helicopters. Police boats patrolled the shoreline.

Palazzi’s neighbor, Debbie Bonanno, said she found a bullet in her yard Thursday morning. Police had shot out the windows of the suspect’s car Wednesday night. The crash and gunfire woke her, too.

“It’s unnerving. We’re a sleepy little community,” she said. “Why he’d be down here, I don’t know.”

Neighbor Donald Macewen, a 25-year-old Army veteran, worried about leaving his family Thursday to attend class at Anne Arundel Community College. He found some comfort in all the police officers around despite knowing someone was on the run at the time.

“Someone is out there actively hurting people,” he said before the suspect was captured. "But with the police presence in the area, it’s hard to not feel somewhat relaxed.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Phil Davis contributed to this article.

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