The vehicle accident and exchange of gunfire in South Baltimore on Monday came as agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives moved to arrest a group of men who they say were en route to commit a home invasion and robbery, documents show.
Details of the operation have been scarce, and the agency did not initially disclose that shots had been fired. Documents, however, show that the men had traveled to the 1000 block of W. Patapsco Ave. to meet with an undercover ATF agent under the guise of making final preparations for a robbery.
On Nov. 3, a confidential source met with Dawron Kip Mason, 25, at an undisclosed YMCA, and told Mason that a disgruntled drug courier wanted to contract Mason to obtain cocaine that was property of a Mexican drug cartel, documents show. Mason "assured [the source] that he was experienced in this area and wanted to commit the robbery," the documents say. "This is ... what we do," Mason is alleged to have said.
Five days later, Mason met with an undercover agent, who explained the setup of the house they were planning to hit. It is not clear from the documents whether the entire scenario was a ruse, but Mason told the agent he had a "couple of dudes that will go straight in there, knock them off." He said he would "knock down [an armed guard], tie him up, go for the second dude, tie both of [them] up," and knock them unconscious, according to records.
The undercover agent and Mason agreed to meet Nov. 14, and at about 3:45 p.m., they met on Patapsco Avenue. Mason had six men with him, and they went over the outline of the robbery. "Is that cool, we straight?" he said.
Agents then decided to move in. Mason attempted to flee by driving a white Ford Explorer into a moving van being used by police, then through a 6-foot-high chain link fence and through a parking lot, where his SUV crashed into a bystander's vehicle, agents wrote in court papers. The Explorer continued across four lanes of traffic and then crashed into a telephone pole.
All of the men attempted to flee on foot but were captured by law enforcement agents. Agents found two spent shell casings inside the Explorer, as well a 9 mm Glock pistol, a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, and a .45-caliber Springfield Armory 1911A1 handgun, according to documents.
Charged in the case are: Mason; Michael Allen Smith, 19; Brandon Sykes, 25; Douglas McArthur Thomas, 22; Donte Terrell Thornton, 27; and Christopher Lee Turpin, 28. They are each charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and conspiracy to possess a firearm in a drug-trafficking crime.
The men all appeared to have previous criminal records. Mason was charged in 2009 with attempted first- degree murder and armed robbery, and pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and received six months in jail, court records show.
Turpin was charged in 2004 with first-degree murder and was convicted of manslaughter, receiving 10 years in prison. According to an account in The Baltimore Sun, two women were fighting when Thomas Grimes got involved. Turpin, a friend of one of the women, shot Grimes.