An armed man approached a plainclothes Baltimore police detective outside a Cherry Hill convenience store Tuesday evening, brandished a gun and knocked the officer to the ground before jumping into his unmarked police car and speeding away with two accomplices, newly filed court records about the carjacking show.
Trevon Gardner, 23, was later identified as the assailant, according to police. He and a teenage suspect were arrested shortly after the group wrecked the stolen car in a rollover crash in Port Covington. The third suspect remains at large.
Charging documents for Gardner reveal new details about the brazen act of violence that comes amid an ongoing spike in carjackings, both in Baltimore and other large cities.
The documents identify the officer as Detective Aaron Cain, who fired his gun during the encounter. Police said the two suspects in custody were not injured in the gunfire and received only minor injuries in the crash. Cain also was uninjured, officials said.
In investigating the incident, detectives obtained surveillance footage from the 7-Eleven store that showed Gardner and two other people approach Cain as the officer walked toward his parked black Ford Fusion and opened the passenger side door, according to charging documents.
Gardner pulled a suspected handgun from his waistband and “struck Det. Cain in the upper body area toward the head, causing Det. Cain to fall to the ground,” police wrote in their report. Gardner then stood over the officer and “continued to assault him by possibly kicking and punching on Det. Cain.”
Police said Gardner also appeared to take something from Cain. The officer was wearing a polo shirt with the department logo and had his badge clearly displayed, officials have said.
Meanwhile, the two accomplices got into the unmarked police car, one in the driver’s seat and the other in the back, the documents say. Gardner then got into the passenger seat, police said.
As the suspects sped away toward the Hanover Street Bridge, Cain got up from the ground and fired his weapon toward the fleeing car, according to the documents.
The incident unfolded around 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the 2800 block of Hanover Street outside a small retail strip near Middle Branch Park and MedStar Harbor Hospital — right around the corner from the Baltimore Police Department’s Southern District office. The shopping center includes a 7-Eleven, a rehab facility, a check cashing store, and a meat and seafood market. It sits where Hanover and Potee streets converge before the bridge connecting Cherry Hill to Port Covington.
Minutes after fleeing the scene, the stolen vehicle landed upside down after a rollover crash near the entrance of Nick’s Fish House on Cromwell Street.
Gardner and the teenager, who police have not named, were arrested after fleeing the scene on foot — and trying to disguise themselves as employees of the popular seafood restaurant.
Police said the two suspects ran into “a small building where Nick’s restaurant keeps their catering supplies and some clothing attire,” the documents say. Gardner donned a server apron, which he was wearing when police arrested him a short time later.
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In addition to the discarded clothing, police found a 9mm handgun next to the wrecked police car, according to the charging documents. The gun was loaded, but it “appeared to have a mechanical malfunction where one or more rounds obstructed the slide of the gun from closing and chambering a live round,” police wrote.
Officials said previously that detectives believe the weapon misfired.
After a bail review hearing Thursday morning, Baltimore District Court Judge Geoffrey Hengerer ordered Gardner held without bail, saying his release would pose an extreme danger to the community.
In brief remarks explaining his decision, Hengerer called the charges “extremely serious and brazen.” Even if the victim was not a police officer, the judge said, the allegations raise significant public safety concerns.
Hengerer read aloud from police reports, noting that Gardner is accused of striking the victim and taking his car keys before fleeing the scene and later “attempting to blend in by wearing catering supplies.”
Hengerer also said questions about whether the gun misfired — or possibly was damaged in the crash, causing it to become inoperable after the carjacking — should be addressed as the case proceeds to trial.
Gardner has no criminal record, said Mary Patton, an attorney appointed to represent him through the Office of the Public Defender. He was living with his parents in Reisterstown, completing an apprenticeship program to become an electrician, working on earning his GED and helping to support his two young children, she said.