BERLIN — Despite several hours of searching by foot and air, authorities have not been unable to apprehend a man who assaulted an officer while fleeing the scene of a traffic stop along Main Street Wednesday afternoon.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">
The subsequent manhunt turned dangerous, resulting in a foot chase through the downtown district, an extensive ground and air search and a Berlin police officer being injured during an altercation with the suspect.
Lt. J.D. Lawson of the Berlin Police Department told The Dispatch Wednesday that DaMar S. Collins, 26, is being sought after eluding police during a routine traffic stop near Artisan’s Way on Wednesday afternoon in Berlin. Collins is about 6’ tall and weighs about 150 pounds. Collins was last seen wearing dark in color pants and a white shirt.
Lawson indicated after the traffic stop ensued, an officer attempted to place Collins under arrest for driving while suspended, but Collins fought the officer and kicked him in the face. The police officer sustained non-life threatening injuries, but Lawson said the officer needed medical care.
Collins was able to flee the scene and head down Jefferson Street in Berlin to Washington Street, touching off a massive manhunt throughout Berlin, resulting in road closures and police stationed through the downtown corridor.
At one point, residents along Washington Street reported Collins was seen jumping fences and running through their backyards. It was around this point that police reportedly lost a visual on Collins.
At some point while fleeing police, Collins reportedly broke a window in a residence on N. Main Street and entered the residence briefly before exiting. Lawson said authorities are fairly confident he was aided by a family member in a vehicle in his successful escape.
Later on Wednesday evening, property owners in Berlin reported police were searching outbuildings for Collins, who police said witnesses had reported spotting along Broad Street. Properties nearby were searched with officers and a K-9 participating, and residents were ordered to remain inside while it was conducted.
Maryland State Police troopers and a MSP helicopter participated in the unsuccessful search during Wednesday afternoon. While the search was conducted, Buckingham Elementary School was placed on temporary lockdown, according to Lawson, although students had already been dismissed for the day. This morning, at Buckingham, there was not a high-profile police presence at school, according to parents dropping their students off on the second to last day of school.
During the search, roadblocks were set up on Main Street and police were stationed on Washington Street, as residents watched and observed. In some cases, outbuildings were searched with police officers’ guns drawn, according to residents.
Collins has been charged with assault, burglary, driving while suspended and fleeing and eluding.
Court records indicate Collins, whose address is listed as Bishopville, is wanted on an active warrant for second-degree assault dating back to April 15. Numerous other charges, from marijuana possession to trespassing, are included in a basic criminal background check.
Anyone with information about Collins is asked to call 911 or the Berlin Police Department at 410-641-1333.