A woman waiting at a traffic light near a North Baltimore shopping center was forced from her car yesterday only to watch helplessly as the attacker drove away in her car with her 10-month-old daughter.
Several witnesses chased the car, which jumped a curb and crashed into a bus stop sign four blocks from the Belvedere Square shopping center. Police said they caught the suspect after a brief foot chase, and the girl was unharmed.
"We want to express our gratitude to the people who helped get the man who did this," said the victim, Margaret Curley, 35, also speaking for her husband. "The people who helped were vital in getting our baby back."
Police said that after the attacker crashed the stolen green station wagon, he ran behind the Yorkewood Apartments, removed his blue pants and green sweat shirt and threw his weapon to the ground.
Officers tackled him and recovered the weapon -- which turned out to be a cigarette lighter made to resemble a .22-caliber revolver. The attacker was not hurt in the crash.
James Toles, 31, who lives in the Yorkewood complex in the 1000 block of E. Belvedere Ave., was charged with armed carjacking, assault and abduction. Toleswas awaiting a bail hearing yesterday at the Central Booking and Intake Center.
Crime has not been a serious problem in the Belvedere Square area, police said. The most serious incident occurred in February when a couple was shot during a purse-snatching near Northern Parkway and Clearspring Road.
Yesterday's attack was part of a mini-crime spree. Sgt. Scott Rowe, a police spokesman, said it began about 12: 15 p.m. when a gunman tried to take a car from a woman in the shopping center's parking lot.
But that woman, inside the car, had her windows rolled up and doors locked. Rowe said the attacker gave up and ran to the intersection of York Road and Belvedere, where he targeted a green Isuzu station wagon driven by Curley, who lives in Homeland.
Police said Curley was forced from her car and the assailant quickly got into the driver's seat. Rowe said the woman was able to safely remove her son, 3, but could not get to her daughter, who was strapped in a rear car seat.
The attacker drove over Curley's foot, but she was not seriously injured.
Pub Date: 9/10/99