Woman charged in Mar-a-Lago chase refuses to appear in court

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A Connecticut opera singer charged with using an SUV to blast through barricades outside of President Donald Trump's Florida estate, drawing law enforcement gunfire, refused to appear in court Saturday, delaying her initial appearance.

Palm Beach County Judge Ted Booras said Hannah Roemhild's first hearing would be held Monday if she could be brought from the jail to the court without endangering herself or deputies, local media reports.

Roemhild, 30, is charged with two state counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer after Friday's wild chase through Palm Beach and past the president's Mar-a-Lago club. She is being held at the Palm Beach County jail without bond. Officials have said Roemhild was “obviously impaired” and they do not believe she targeted the president or Mar-a-Lago. He was not present.

Friday's events began just before noon when a Florida Highway Patrol trooper working an off-duty security shift at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach approached Roemhild as she danced on the roof of her rented Jeep SUV in the high-end resort's parking lot. She jumped inside and refused to acknowledge his taps on the glass.

She then put the car in reverse and drove away. The trooper smashed the window and tried to grab the steering wheel to prevent her from leaving, but she sped away, leading him on a chase south down swanky Ocean Drive toward Mar-a-Lago, 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) miles away, at speeds in excess of 70 mph (113 kph).

Authorities there say she swerved around concrete barriers and through two checkpoints, endangering the lives of Secret Service agents and Palm Beach County deputies staffing them. They opened fire, breaking out her back window. At this point, the trooper ended his pursuit, fearing lives would be endangered if it continued.

At some point, Roemheld picked up a female relative before automatic license plate readers soon tracked her to a motel near Palm Beach International Airport. A trooper tackled her as she tried to flee into her room, officials said.

TV video shows a dazed Roemheld showing a blank expression as she was handcuffed and placed into a patrol car.

Roemheld has appeared in several Connecticut operas and said on social media recently that she had an unspecified performance scheduled in Palm Beach this past week.

Marilyn Malcarne, a Connecticut friend of the Roemhild family, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that the woman's alleged behavior is completely out of character and she “wouldn't hurt a soul.”

"She’s incredibly talented," Malcarne said. “She has really studied her opera singing and she has an amazing voice.”

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