An Assistant U.S. Attorney in Maryland got an unexpected turn as a street crime fighter in Baltimore while on his way to court earlier this month.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Crooks said he was on the way back from a food truck and walking through an area known for its daytime robberies when he heard a scream and saw three people sprinting away from a woman.
Crooks took off after the suspected robbers, who he said looked to be in their teens. He had a 2 p.m. court appearance with a judge who is a stickler for punctuality, but said he felt he couldn’t let the teenagers get away.
“When this all happens, it’s funny how your brain can be bifurcated,” Crooks said in an interview with Main Justice.
“I was thinking I was going to be late for court and held in contempt,” he said. “I just started chasing after them.”
He chased after the suspects for several blocks and caught his break when the teenagers turned into a subway station. The suspects leaped over the turnstiles; he shimmied between the posts asked a subway worker to call the police. He then cornered the suspects at the subway platform.
Crooks said he was winded as he tried to negotiate for the return of the woman’s cell phone. The conversation became heated and there was shoving and yelling as bystanders looked on.
The train began arriving at the same time a police officer made his way to the platform, and for a moment Crooks thought the suspects would get away, he said.
But the police arrived in time, the woman’s phone was returned, and Crooks made his court appearance with a few minutes to spare.
“I threw my business card to the cops and sprinted to court,” he said.
Crooks said he won’t try and make a habit out of working on the other end of law enforcement, but he felt good about how things ended up and took a lesson from the experience.
“Things don’t have to always play out in the stereotypical fashion,” he said.
He said he felt people can still make a difference if they decide to act.
“There was a little something, you can try to act in the moment.”