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POLICE ROBOT GETS ITS MAN Device ends 25-hour standoff in Linthicum


A robot pushed into a barricaded Linthicum motel room yesterday afternoon, ripped the blanket off a man cowering under the sink and sent him sprawling into the arms of police officers.

The three-minute maneuver by the squat, six-wheeled device -- complete with a hip check that kept the man from fleeing -- ended a 25-hour standoff that started when a housekeeper at Motel 6 found what appeared to be a bomb in the room.

Marvin Eli Kirsch, 45, of Perry Hall was arrested and taken to North Arundel Hospital for mental and physical evaluation.

The robot was called in shortly before 11 a.m., when police and fire marshals decided negotiations had failed. The $46,000 robot would feel at home at a reunion of R2D2's family: About the size of a three-drawer filing cabinet, it has video camera "eyes" and a mechanical arm with a claw-like lever on its right side. It can even defend itself: on its left side, parallel to the arm, is a shotgun.

The robot, guided by Deputy Fire Marshal Mark VanBaalen just outside the door, smashed the windows to Room 346 and pulled down the curtains. Through the robot's "eyes" police saw the suspect, who was huddling under the sink covered by the blanket and sheet.

With the window now open, police used a bullhorn to cajole the suspect into surrendering. His response consisted of unintelligible shouts, Officer Bell said.

At 12:30 p.m., the robot moved in front of the door and special operations officers took their positions. Bolt cutters snapped the chain and the robot trundled inside.

It zeroed in on Mr. Kirsch, plucking away his cover. Police say as Mr. Kirsch leaped up and made a beeline for the door, the robot wheeled sharply to the left and bounced the man off course.

Officers and a state fire marshal bomb squad found a tape-wrapped mass of batteries and wires, but no bomb.

Police said Mr. Kirsh, whose last known address was the 4500 block of Ebenezer Road in Perry Hall, is wanted for failing to appear in Anne Arundel Circuit Court in December to stand trial on charges of assaulting an officer at the Ferndale light rail station in June 1994.

Officer Randy Bell, an Anne Arundel County police spokesman, said county police are trying to determine the cost of the standoff. At least 30 Anne Arundel officers, fire personnel and agents of the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms RTC were on the scene during the round-the-clock vigil.

Police evacuated Motel 6 and closed Nursery Road between Fairview Avenue and the Route 295 overpass.

Deputy Fire Marshal Bob Thomas Jr. said yesterday's mechanical hero is one of two purchased by the state in 1990 and has been used in dozens of bomb threats.

It has not been named, Mr. Thomas said. But after yesterday, somebody offered up an idea after seeing it deliver the wicked left hook to the suspect.

"Dempsey," Mr. Thomas said. "After the fighter."

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