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Carjacking suspect hid overnight in storm drain at Fort Meade NSA campus

The commander of Fort Meade promised to review security after a man driving a stolen car barreled through a guarded checkpoint Wednesday night, crashed through a fence onto the campus of the National Security Agency and evaded law enforcement officers for more than 13 hours.

"We will investigate fully this incident, how it occurred, to determine if we can make any procedural changes," Col. Brian Foley told reporters Thursday outside the main gate to the installation in Anne Arundel County.

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"It has been my priority the entire tenure I've been in this job to improve the access control points, the physical security ... on this installation."

The man, identified as Dante Small, 41, of Hagerstown eventually was apprehended "without incident" about 10:15 a.m. Thursday, according to police and Army officials.

Foley said Small had hidden in a storm drain. He was arrested almost immediately after poking his head out.

With 53,000 service members, civilians and contractors, Fort Meade is the state's largest workplace. Officials put the installation on lockdown Wednesday night, and closed Meade High School, two middle schools and three primary schools on Thursday morning. Foley directed all but essential personnel to stay away.

The incident comes as officials have put military bases on heightened alert because of terrorism concerns.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, whose district includes Fort Meade, called the incident "a serious security breach."

"Suppose this guy was a terrorist and had a bomb," the Baltimore County Democrat said. "We have to see whether the resources were there and whether people trained to protect the perimeter were doing their job."

No charges had been filed against Small as of Thursday evening, Baltimore police said and he was being treated at a hospital. Officials said he could face federal trespassing charges and traffic charges.

The incident began when Anne Arundel County police attempted to stop a car near Arundel Mills Boulevard about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, officials said. The car had been reported stolen from a man in Federal Hill, according to Baltimore police.

Officials said Small led officers in at least two cars on a 41/2-mile chase before he crashed into a fence at Rockenbach Road that separates the NSA campus from the rest of Fort Meade. Aerial footage from TV station WUSA showed a section of chain-link fence near a wooded area knocked to the ground.

Small jumped from the vehicle and fled on foot, Foley said. He ducked into the storm drain, which was concealed by a bush, on the NSA side of the fence, Foley said.

Military police from Fort Meade and other installations, Baltimore police, Anne Arundel County police and Maryland State Police hunted for Small in the dark. Neighbors reported hearing helicopters in the area, and Anne Arundel police deployed dogs.

At 4 a.m., Foley decided that only essential personnel should come in to work at the base Thursday morning.

Small emerged from the drain shortly after 10 a.m., officials said, and was taken into custody by Baltimore police.

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"He probably thought enough time had gone by and it was safe to come out," Foley said.

The car, a 2008 silver Acura TSX sedan, was reported stolen in Federal Hill on Sunday night, Baltimore police said.

A man told police he was robbed at gunpoint after parking his car in the 1000 block of Covington St., according to a police report.

He told officers he was approached by three unknown men, according to the report. One had a handgun, and one asked him, "What you got in your pockets?"

When the victim told them he had nothing, they demanded his keys and the victim handed them over, according to the report. He walked back to his house and called police.

It was unknown whether Small was one of the three men involved in the robbery Sunday.

Fort Meade is home to U.S. Cyber Command, the NSA, the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Defense Information School and members of all branches of the military.

In March, officials said, two people rammed a gate at Fort Meade that leads directly to the NSA. NSA Police officers opened fire, killing the driver and wounding the passenger.

Foley was asked Thursday why officers at the gate Wednesday night did not fire on the Acura when it crossed the perimeter.

He said the circumstances were different. In March, he said, the officers believed their lives were in danger. He declined to comment further, saying the incident remained under review.

The FBI and local police declined to file charges in the March incident.

Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell and Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Tim Pratt contributed to this article.

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