Suspect Located With Gun, Drugs After Fleeing Scene

OCEAN CITY — A Delaware man was arrested last weekend after nearly crashing his vehicle into a store near the Route 90 Bridge entrance, fleeing the scene on foot and being found with a loaded handgun and drugs.

Around 3 a.m. last Wednesday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer responded to the area of 62nd Street and Coastal Highway for a reported crash. Upon arrival, the officer observed a vehicle had crashed next to a discount T-shirt store on the north side of Route 90 and smoke was emanating from the vehicle.

Witnesses told police they observed a suspect, later identified as Christopher Purnell, 31, of Wilmington, Del., get out of the crashed vehicle’s driver’s seat and flee north on Coastal Highway on foot. A description of Purnell was provided, and he was located by another OCPD officer in the parking lot of the Public Safety Building on 65th Street.

The OCPD officer spoke with Purnell, who reportedly said he was in the vehicle that had crashed, but was not the driver. However, a witness was brought to the scene and positively identified Purnell as the driver who had crashed the vehicle and then fled on foot. At that point, Purnell was placed under arrest for hit-and-run.

During a subsequent search, Purnell advised police there was a pistol in his backpack. Inside the backpack, OCPD officers found a Glock handgun with the magazine loaded, but the chamber empty. Purnell admitted the handgun belonged to him, according to police reports.

During a frisk of Purnell’s person, OCPD officers located two small bags containing Xanax and Adderall pills along with another bag containing marijuana. An OCPD officer pulled the City Watch surveillance footage of the crash and observed Purnell’s vehicle traveling north on Coastal Highway at a high rate of speed while approaching the Route 90 intersection.

Purnell reportedly attempted to make the turn from Coastal Highway to the Route 90 bridge. However, because of his high rate of speed, he was unable to successfully make the turn and the vehicle went up onto the sidewalk and into the grass before coming to rest near the T-shirt store. Purnell was charged with possession of a loaded handgun, possession of controlled dangerous substances and numerous traffic violations including hit-and-run.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.