Lanier lauds dispatcher, officers in aftermath of D.C. shooting, chase
As D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier's car sped toward the Southeast scene of Tuesday's mass shooting on South Capitol Street, she was listening closely to radio traffic describing the chase of a vehicle that sped from the scene.
Lanier listened to responding officers get behind a van spotted leaving the area of the 4000 block of South Capitol Street SE, where four people had been fatally shot and five others lay wounded. The ensuing hours produced a chaotic scene of carnage, but Lanier said a coordinated net was being closed around the suspects.
In an interview Wednesday night, Lanier said police were still trying to detail the exact route of the chase that wound from D.C. streets to Prince George's County roadways and back into the city. The van finally crashed in the Condon Terrace complex in Southeast, less than a mile from the shootings.
Still, she praised the skill of the officers pursuing the van, the helicopter unit that quickly helped track the vehicle from the air and the calm of the dispatcher who connected all units. The chief has amassed a list of about 20 officers who she said will receive commendations from the department.
In particular, she was pleased with how will police were able to coordinate with county officers in a short span of time.
"When we hit the county we had county cruisers with us in about 45 seconds," Lanier recalled.
But the chase was not without risk, as two D.C. patrol cars crashed in the 5600 block of St. Barnabas Road in Prince George's County and four officers suffered minor injuries. And as the chase continued, apparently with a 14-year-old behind the wheel of the van, police still were unable to make the speeding vehicle stop.
Lanier surmised that suspects inside the van had a plan of their own as they drove back toward the Condon Terrace area, a complex maze of two-story apartments, where police think they attempted to escape and hide. Fortunately for police, the van had a "fender bender" near the area, and the occupants bolted out the doors on foot and D.C. police were able to scoop up three of them. A fourth person is believed to have escaped.
In the aftermath of a wild chase, Lanier said several 7th District officers sent flowers to the dispatcher who coordinated their pursuit via radio and kept her cool. For Lanier, the radio traffic she listened to was a textbook example of how she hopes other officers might respond to similar circumstances.
"I got a copy of that [radio transmissions] and I plan on using it for training," Lanier said. "It was incredible."
-- Clarence Williams
April 1, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories: Cathy L. Lanier , Clarence Williams , Heroes , The District
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