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Man wields shotgun, hammer; closes BW Parkway

Wednesday - 7/6/2011, 7:47pm  ET

parkway.jpg
A freeway sign along northbound Interstate 95 near Baltimore, Md., warns of the closure of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

WASHINGTON - The Baltimore-Washington Parkway was closed for a few hours Wednesday after a man walked out of the woods and tapped on the rear window of a speed camera contractor's vehicle with a gun, then hit the windshield with a hammer before fleeing, authorities said.

Police received reports around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday of a man with a shotgun along the highway near I-195 in Linthicum, about two miles from the airport.

A speed camera contract worker with the State Highway Administration said he was sitting in his Jeep on the southbound side of I-295 when he saw a man come out of the wooded area carrying a shotgun in one hand and a hammer in the other, says Maryland State Police spokesperson Greg Shipley.

The suspect approached the Jeep and tapped on the back window with his shotgun. Frightened, the contract worker began honking his horn, causing the suspect to slam the windshield with his hammer. The suspect screamed "incoherently" and eventually retreated to the wooded area, Shipley says.

The highway worker was not injured, though the windshield was broken. There was no evidence that shots were fired, and no one was injured, Shipley says.

There is an ongoing search in the wooded area and around the industrial hotel area just beyond that. About 50 officers were searching for the gunman, described as a white man between the ages of 50 and 60, wearing a red and black flannel shirt and blue jeans. Police were using dogs and helicopters to aid in the search.

Traffic was gridlocked in the area, and people traveling to the airport were advised to allow extra time and use either I-95 or I-97, says Charlie Gischlar, a State Highway Administration spokesman.

State highway crews are in the midst of a lengthy project to widen the parkway in both directions between I-195, the access highway for the airport, and I-695, the Baltimore Beltway. Speed cameras are authorized in the work zone, as they are in other highway work zones in Maryland. Signs alert drivers to the presence of the cameras.

The Baltimore-Washington Parkway is a 29-mile, four-lane divided highway connecting Baltimore city with the northeast corner of the District of Columbia that opened for traffic in 1954. The southern portion of the road is maintained by the National Park Service, while the northern portion is state-maintained and is also known as Maryland Route 295.

The parkway reopened shortly before 3 p.m.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)