PASADENA, Md. (WJZ) — A 22-year-old Pasadena man is being charged in the shooting of two Anne Arundel County Police detectives and the murder of a Glen Burnie man.
Joseph Robert Mitchell Willis, of the 7700 block of Middle Gate Court, is charged in the first-degree murder of 44-year-old Christopher Lawrence Jones, of the 600 block of Newfield Road, and attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting two detectives investigating the case.
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According to charging documents, Willis agreed to speak to the police and admitted he committed murder and shot at two police officers.
On Wednesday around 4:55 p.m., Jones’ roommate and landlord found him dead inside his Glen Burnie home. According to charging documents, Jones had significant trauma to his head.
Jones’ mother Patricia Bosse said for her son to die so violently was heartbreaking.
“I’d like people to know what a wonderful person he was,” Bosse said. “He was the kindest, gentlest spirit anybody would want to meet.
Bosse went on to call Willis a “loose cannon,” saying she prayed he wouldn’t hurt anyone else.
After investigating, police learned that a houseguest named ‘Joe” had come home with Jones on Sunday, Feb. 2. That houseguest, later identified as Willis, told the homeowner Tuesday he would be leaving.
The homeowner left for work around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday. When he returned home, he called 911 after finding Jones’ Toyota Camry was missing from the driveway and items had been moved around the house. He called out for Jones, and when he went downstairs to check on him, he found him unconscious and believed he was dead. The homeowner told arriving police Willis may have taken Jones’ car and gave them a description of Willis.
Willis will face charges in Baltimore City for the shooting of Det. Ballard outside the Royal Farms; the shooting of Det. Preece happened in AACo.; police learned Willis had friends in the area and a judge issued a search warrant for the home where he was taken into custody @wjz pic.twitter.com/jLwb5dXSMI
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) February 7, 2020
Anne Arundel County Police were investigating Jones’ murder near a Royal Farms in the 6400 block of Fort Smallwood Road in Baltimore when they saw a white man fitting the suspect’s description in a Toyota Camry. When the detectives tried to stop the man, later identified as Willis, he fled.
While he was fleeing, Willis fired at the officers, striking Det. Scott Ballard in the upper body, court documents stated.
Detective Ian Preece continued to pursue Willis and the car eventually crashed on Hilltop Road near River Rock way in Riviera Beach back in Anne Arundel County. When he crashed, Willis got our and allegedly shot at Preece, striking him. Willis then fled on foot, court documents said.
Police began a manhunt in the neighborhood looking for the suspect but couldn’t locate him. While the neighborhood was on lockdown, other detectives went to the Glen Burnie home to collect evidence, including fingerprints. The fingerprints were later identified as Willis’ fingerprints.
Officers learned Willis had friends in the Stoney Creek Community and was hiding inside a home in the 1300 block of Riverbank Court in Curtis Bay. He was taken into custody after a judge issued a search warrant on that home.
Police also found $15,000 worth of CDS in the home after Willis was taken into custody. Two more people at the home, 21-year-old Shawn Ethan Taylor and 23-year-old Zachary Taylor were also taken into custody.
As part of the investigation, police also executed a search warrant as a home in the 7700 block of Middlegate Court. At the home, police said they found evidence of a small marijuana growing operation as well as suspected heroin and fentanyl. They arrested 42-year-old Michelle Antoinette Fischer at the scene.
Both detectives are recovering.
“We thought we were going to lose one of them for a while,” said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare.
He thanked the community for their support.
“The last 36 hours was a case study for how it’s supposed to go,” Chief Altomare said, also praising the work of his officers.
He believes several people were illegally harboring Willis at the townhouse in Curtis Bay.
The chief told reporters that police quickly identified two possible locations where Willis was hiding after he fled the shooting scene of Det. Preece.
The investigation is ongoing and additional charges will be placed. Willis will face charges in Baltimore City for the shooting of Det. Ballard outside the Royal Farms. Then, he will face charges in Anne Arundel County for the shooting of Det. Preece.
Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess says Willis is not charged in Ballard’s shooting yet. She does plan to prosecute that case with the cooperation of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney and Baltimore City Police.
At a press conference Friday, Commissioner Michael Harrison pledged any help he could offer.
Court records show Willis pleaded guilty to robbery in February 2018 and was sentenced to five years in prison, all but 18 months of which was suspended. He also violated his probation in November 2019 and there was a warrant out for his arrest.
Chief Altomare talked about the backlog of open warrants in Maryland and lamented that Willis was out on the streets.
He also said “the folks in that house should have come forward and made it easier” for officers to capture Willis sooner.
A public defender waived Willis’ bail review at the Glen Burnie District Courthouse Friday.
Nevertheless, the judge declared Willis ‘dangerous’ based on the statement of charges and ordered him held without bail.