A 20-year-old Westminster man intent on committing "suicide by cop" crashed his parents' sport utility vehicle Tuesday night, killing an elderly Reisterstown woman, Baltimore County police said.
Police said Nicholas Mottley led officers on a chase through Carroll County before ending up in Baltimore County, where he rammed a police car, was involved in another small crash, then sped off and ultimately struck a car driven by Martha Tabares, 74.
Tabares was killed instantly when the Chevrolet Traverse Mottley was driving struck her Toyota Corolla nearly head-on at 8:22 p.m., said Cpl. John Wachter, a police spokesman. Mottley was in critical condition at Sinai Hospital on Wednesday, Wachter said.
The crash, near the intersection of Reisterstown Road and Franklin Boulevard, also involved a van, but there were no other injuries.
The initial call from the Carroll County sheriff's office warning Baltimore County police that a "violent, suicidal suspect" who was armed with a knife and had expressed a desire to be killed by police was traveling into their area in a vehicle matching Mottley's Traverse came at 8:13 p.m., Wachter said.
David Shapiro of Pikesville was called to the scene of the collision by his friend James Seybold, who was driving the van involved in the crash. Shapiro said he felt helpless as he watched emergency responders try for more than an hour to get Tabares out of the crushed Corolla. He ended up going to the woman's house, less than a mile from the scene, and was the first to inform her family and friends that she had died in the crash.
"It was just this really sad picture," Shapiro, 57, said about the aftermath of the crash. "It's one of those things you never know you're going to be confronted with, and then it happens."
Sheriff's deputies in Carroll went to the home of Mottley's parents in Westminster about 45 minutes before the crash, after one of his parents called 911 to report a domestic incident involving their son, said Maj. Phillip Kasten, a sheriff's spokesman.
As deputies neared Mottley's parents' house, they learned he had threatened suicide and fled the home with a pocket knife in the Traverse, Kasten said. When they arrived at the home about 8 p.m., the deputies were able to talk to Mottley over the Traverse's OnStar communications system.
"He told the deputy on the phone that he intended to crash the vehicle and end his life, but he wished the police would just shoot him," Kasten said.
Through the OnStar system, police were able to triangulate Mottley's location, by then southbound on Interstate 795 in Baltimore County, and warn police there filling them in on the details of Mottley's statements about crashing the vehicle or having police shoot him.
Officers in Baltimore County made contact with Mottley almost immediately after being notified, in the parking lot of a Walmart in the 9700 block of Reisterstown Road, Wachter said.
Mottley then rammed his Traverse into a police cruiser no officers were injured and then drove off, with the officers immediately pursuing him.
"They took off after him, but it wasn't too long before the shift commander said, 'Break it off, he's going too fast,'" Wachter said.
Seybold, who was not injured in the crash but whose van was damaged, said he was grateful he was alive and disappointed that Mottley chose to attempt to end his life in the way police described.
"It's unfortunate that his state of mind was that extreme," said Seybold, 51, who lives about two miles from the scene of the crash. "Whatever he was going through, it wasn't worth it."
Crash investigators are looking into the incident and charges are pending against Mottley, police said.