OCEAN CITY — A vast section of the downtown area was paralyzed for several hours late Monday afternoon and early evening while the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) mobilized nearly all of its resources to nab an armed fugitive hiding under a handicap ramp at an apartment complex.
On Monday morning, the OCPD received information from the Maryland State Police that a wanted individual who was possibly armed may be heading to Ocean City or may be in the resort already. A lookout for the suspect, identified as Dennis John Cross, 19, of Stockton, was broadcast and OCPD investigators began searching for the suspect.
Cross was wanted on outstanding warrants from both the Worcester and Wicomico County Sheriff’s Offices. In Worcester, Cross was arrested in June 2010 in connection with a series of car thefts in the south end of the county and was later sentenced to three years in jail with all but one year suspended. When he violated the terms of his probation in that case, his bond was revoked and a warrant was sworn out for his arrest.
On Monday morning, OCPD detectives learned from Chincoteague Police that Cross was the primary suspect in the theft of a shotgun and should be considered armed and dangerous. With the information provided, the OCPD began an extensive search for Cross in the downtown area. At one point on Monday afternoon, OCPD officers showed pictures of Cross to residents in the downtown area in hopes of finding information on his whereabouts, according to a witness at the scene.
Based on all of the information developed during the investigation, OCPD detectives and patrol officers focused their search efforts on a vast area roughly between 8th and 9th streets and from Philadelphia Ave. to St. Louis Ave. Around 4 p.m., OCPD officers discovered Cross had barricaded himself under the decking of a wheelchair ramp attached to the Beach Bum Apartments between 8th and 9th streets on the west side of Philadelphia Ave. and incident changed from a search to a stand-off situation.
The OCPD established a perimeter around the scene from 9th Street south to 8th Street and from Philadelphia Ave. to St. Louis Ave. Mounted Police units were stationed at different points around the perimeter, preventing vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians from entering the stand-off area. In one instance, a young mother with a child in a stroller was prevented from going back into the area where she lived, according to a witness at the scene.
Meanwhile, the OCPD mobilizied uniformed and tactical officers all around the perimeter, including the Quick Response Team (QRT), which was decked out in full SWAT-style regalia including vests, helmets and assault rifles. QRT officers were stationed at various positions in and around the apartment building where Cross had barricaded himself and trained their assault rifles on the suspect’s location.
At one point, a well-known downtown rental property owner arrived at the scene and provided access for police to a rental building directly across from Cross’s location. A short time later, the OCPD’s armored vehicle arrived near the scene and mobilized on a parking lot adjacent to the stand-off area. All the while, curious onlookers streamed out of residences and businesses in the area.
Finally, sometime after 6:30 p.m., OCPD tactical officers were able to take Cross into custody without further incident. At the time of his arrest, Cross was found in possession of a modified shotgun, which was loaded. Cross was also found in possession of an unknown amount of prescription narcotics, and during the standoff, officers observed Cross ingesting an unknown quantity of pills. He was taken to AGH following his arrest as a precaution.
Cross was charged with theft under $1,000 and possession of controlled dangerous substances and paraphernalia. He was also served with the two outstanding warrants from Worcester and Wicomico Counties. He is being held on a $25,000 bond for the charges related to the standoff, as well as $10,000 bonds for each of the two outstanding warrants.