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Mobtown Beat

Spectating from behind bars

Crime blogger held without bail after broadcasting standoff with police

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The Baltimore Spectator’s website, where the citizen-journalist broadcast his standoff with police trying to serve a warrant for a parole violation.

Blogger Frank James MacArthur, known to many by Twitter handle @BaltoSpectator, was held without bail and charged with possession of an illegal shotgun after engineering a dramatic confrontation with SWAT and the Baltimore Police Warrant Apprehension Task Force on Dec. 1.

Known about town for his presence at crime scenes, criticism of police, boasts about his intellect, and all-weather sandals, MacArthur spent the week before his arrest fretting about his status as a fugitive on Twitter and in online radio monologues. He taunted police, saying they were too stupid to catch him, and threatened violence if they attempted to serve the warrant for a parole violation from a 2009 gun case. “Let’s be clear,” he tweeted on the morning of Dec. 1. “There’s some peeps who’ve stepped on my toes before. Guess what? They’re no longer here! So who’s next?”

After police knocked on the door of his Waverly home, MacArthur frantically tweeted that he feared for his life: “don’t let them kill our freedoms, its the last thing we have yall, when I die my spirit will be free, you will be living under tyranny,” he tweeted just after 6 P.M., as police surrounded his house. Hours later, MacArthur broadcast his telephone negotiation with a police lieutenant, Jason Yerg. At 11 P.M. MacArthur gave himself up.

Police searched his home, allegedly finding a short-barreled shotgun. MacArthur’s court records—he has appeared under several names—show a 2002 gun conviction; a 2003 concealed weapons case in which he also pleaded guilty to driving without current tags and refusing to sign the citation (appealed); a 2004 malicious destruction charge that was dropped; a 2007 assault and dangerous weapon case which was also dropped; a 2008 trespassing charge in which his first name was “Apollos”; a 2009 disorderly conduct conviction and a federal tax lien of more than $11,600.

On his blog and his radio show, MacArthur often chastised the police department for allowing crime to flourish while harassing “a good guy with a gun, like me.” He claimed his guns were legal and needed for self defense.

Reports say MacArthur is a cab driver, although a check of Public Service Commission records shows no licensed cab driver or owner under any variation of his name. He has also claimed to be a former U.S. Marine, a bounty hunter, and a professor. He appended “Dr.” to his Twitter profile but, a few days before his capture, did not respond to a reporter who asked where he received his Ph.D.

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