Sheriff, police chase down murder suspect

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By James Cullum (Courtesy photo)

A 24-year-old Alexandria man suspected in the slaying of a man in Suitland, Md., on March 7, was chased down and apprehended that same day in an Old Town alley by Alexandria sheriff’s deputies — and Sheriff Dana Lawhorne himself.

Charles Romain, who lives on Madison Street, was caught near the King Street Metro station after a brief pursuit by Lawhorne, Undersheriff Tim Gleeson and Alexandria police officers.

He is charged with first and second-degree murder in the death of 29-year-old Lafeal Sinclair, in what Prince George’s County police described was a drug deal that went south.

“The decedent was selling a half pound of marijuana to the defendant,” said Officer Tyler Hunter, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Police Department. “The witness had been in contact with the decedent immediately prior to the murder. The witness advised investigators that the witness arranged a drug transaction between the decedent and the suspect. … He did have drugs on him when he was charged in Virginia.”

Police and rescue personnel found Sinclair suffering from several gunshot wounds in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 3900 block of Suitland Road. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Lawhorne was leaving the nearby American Legion when he heard the radio dispatch that an undercover officer was following a suspect. It was later discovered that Lawnhorne met Sinclair in 2015, when the latter received his high school equivalency while incarcerated at the city’s William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center.

“I put myself in a position where I could intercept them,” Lawhorne said. “It’s instinctive. I was a cop for 27 years. It’s in my blood. Once a cop always a cop.

“I had a 50-50 shot, depending on the direction he was going to go — down toward the West End or east through Old Town. So, I went to the foot of the Masonic Temple at King and Russell, and I saw the vehicle turn left on Rosemont.”

Police and the sheriff converged, and Romain abandoned his car and led a brief chase before he slipped, fell and was apprehended in an alley between King and Cameron streets. Lawhorne said the other officers led the pack, but that he witnessed the arrest.

“Sea Biscuit fell way behind in the race,” Lawhorne said. “I didn’t make it to the finish line.”

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