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Rush-hour congestion halts suspects


Three suspects in the armed robbery of a Baltimore County fast-food restaurant were several miles away yesterday when they found themselves in a jam.

A traffic jam.

It was the morning rush hour -- the bumper-to-bumper curse of the chronically late-for-work -- along with quick thinking by police and a small measure of luck that led to three arrests.

The chain of events began about 8 a.m. when the manager of a Wendy's restaurant in Hunt Valley arrived to open the store -- and was greeted by a man with a gun.

Police said the gunman forced him to open a safe and hand over cash, then fled across the parking lot and hopped into a black Nissan Maxima.

A man and a woman were waiting in the car, which sped off. The manager called police.

Hearing the car's description on the police radio, Sgt. F. Leonard Garrett reasoned that the Maxima likely would head south on Interstate 83. He pulled over on the side of the highway, just south of the Timonium Road exit.

Garrett didn't have to wait long before the car cruised by.

He followed the car, which left I-83 and headed west on the Beltway -- and into the crawling, morning commute.

By chance, a plainclothes burglary detective was driving an unmarked car a few cars in front of the Maxima, between the legs of I-83.

Detective Steven Inge pulled to the side, got out of his car and flashed his badge to stop traffic. The Maxima, in the slow lane and boxed in on three sides, went onto the shoulder, but a marked cruiser hemmed in the car.

Two men and a woman were arrested, and cash and a handgun -- a BB pistol -- were recovered, police said.

Two Baltimore residents, George Thomas, 29, of the 900 block of Brooks Lane and Nikisha Darby, 20, of the 1000 block of Lyndhurst St., and Reginald Braxton, 26, of Richmond, Va., were charged with armed robbery.

They were being held at the Cockeysville Precinct lockup, pending a bail hearing today in District Court.

Pub Date: 2/18/99

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