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MANHUNT OVER: Gunman accused of killing man, shooting Anne Arundel detectives arrested

Joseph Robert Mitchell Willis
Posted at 11:37 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 14:39:21-05

CURTIS BAY, Md. (WMAR) — The manhunt is over for a gunman accused of killing a man and shooting two Anne Arundel County detectives late Wednesday night.

Joseph Robert Mitchell Willis, 22, of Pasadena was arrested and charged with the murder of 44-year-old Christopher Lawrence Jones and attempting to murder a police detective.

It all started on Wednesday around 5 p.m. in Brooklyn, when Jones was found shot to death inside a home on Newfield Road. Police noticed his car missing.

About six-hours later Detectives Scott Ballard and Ian Preece found the victim's car, and tried pulling it over just beyond the Baltimore City line at Fort Smallwood Road and Pennington Avenue.

The driver later identified as Willis shot Ballard, a 22-year veteran assigned to the fugitive apprehension team. As the chase continued into the Stoney Beach community, Preece tried ramming Willis's car to get him to stop, but was also shot.

Both detectives were taken to the hospital. Ballard is in critical but stable condition and recently got out of surgery. Preece, a 13-year member of the department's Homeland Security Unit is listed as stable. Neither officer fired their weapon.

Police say Willis and Jones know each other, but wouldn't say how.

Willis ended up getting away and hiding out in a nearby town home, prompting the beginning of a manhunt and a plea from the Anne Arundel County Police Chief.

"Every minute you stretch this out it makes it more dangerous for my cops, thus it makes it more dangerous for you," said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare. "We need you to come and turn yourself in, we will treat you with the respect of a human being, you will be safe, and we will respect your rights, but you need to come in and end this lunacy before another person gets hurt."

To assist in the search, Anne Arundel County Public Schools closed all schools in the Northeast Cluster Thursday. About 50 police officers went door to door in the area looking for Willis.

Altomare urged the neighborhood to cooperate with police, so they and the community could remain safe during a possibly very dangerous situation.

"Listen to the cops, cooperate with them, they closed the schools for a reason, we did that after consultation with the school board," said Altomare. "The less people we have on the street in those communities this morning until we wrap up what we're trying to do, the better. It makes everyone safer, makes the cops safe, citizens safe, the less decisions the cops have to make about what is a potential threat and what isn't, everything stays safe. So please stay inside if you can, if you encounter my officers please listen to them, they will be courteous and polite but they're trying to stay alive out there this morning," said Altomare.

Governor Larry Hogan also released a statement on the incident.

"We have absolutely no tolerance for the violence committed against two Anne Arundel County Police detectives last night. These brave officers are now in stable condition, and all Marylanders are praying for their full and speedy recovery."

Anyone with information on the case is asked to immediately call 410-222-3566.

The full news conference with police can be watched below.