Alleged OC Arsonist Arrested

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OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man was arrested on first- and
second-degree arson as well as reckless endangerment charges on Tuesday for
allegedly starting a vehicle fire near a downtown Ocean City shopping center
last week.

Gerald William Shields, 26, of Ocean City, was arrested on
Tuesday on a warrant after the Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office connected him
to a vehicle fire at the Midway Shopping Center on Philadelphia Ave. near 7th
Street on March 29. The Fire Marshal’s Office determined Shields set a vehicle
on fire in close proximity to the shopping center. The fire was incendiary in
cause and no injuries were reported. Shields was arrested on Tuesday and is
being held on a $100,000 bond. 

Local Man Jailed
For Theft

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man who was apprehended on an
arrest warrant back in March following a theft and the assault of a clerk at a
local 7-Eleven convenience store was in District Court Monday morning to face
his charges.

According to police records, it was back on Feb. 23 when a
man entered the 7-Eleven on North Division Street in order to buy a cup of
coffee. However, the clerk had watched him grab a 32-ounce bottle of Budweiser,
valued at $2.69, and conceal it in his coat before attempting to purchase the coffee.
When the clerk confronted the man about the beer, he fled the store.

Approximately an hour later the man came back to the store
in different clothing, a hat and a piece of cloth covering the bottom half of
his face and began yelling at the clerk, who suspected the man to be the same
one from earlier since he seemed to be somewhat intoxicated now.

According to police records, the masked man then threw an
empty bottle of Budweiser at the clerk, missing him. When the clerk attempted
to call the police at that point the man came behind the counter to prevent
him, causing a scuffle between the two. However, it quickly came to an end when
the clerk grabbed a steal rod and hit the suspect several times until he left.

The following day, OCPD Officer Jeffrey Stutzel, who was
investigating the incident, obtained footage of the assault and soon came
across a subject matching the description of the suspect in back of the
7-Eleven. According to police records, the man was identified as Norman Henry
Smith, 46, of Ocean City, and seemed nervous and evasive in answering Stutzel’s
questions.

Days later, Stutzel presented the clerk with a photo
line-up in which he looked at and positively identified Smith as the
perpetrator. A warrant was then issued for Smith’s arrest.

On Monday, Judge Daniel R. Mumford sentenced Smith to 90
days in jail for the theft charge with 33 of those days suspended for time
served since the time of his arrest.

Intoxicated
Honeymooner Fined

OCEAN CITY – A Virginia man who crashed his Lexus on his honeymoon
and fled the scene back in October returned to District Court in Ocean City
this week to plead guilty to driving under the influence (DUI).

The overall expenses of the honeymoon grew even more
following a brief statement of the facts when Judge Daniel R. Mumford fined
Eric Joseph Ellia, 22, $500 for his DUI.

It was back on Oct. 10 at approximately 2 a.m. when OCPD
Officer Patrick Flynn responded to a single vehicle collision on 26th Street.
According to police records, upon his arrival, Flynn noticed a silver Lexus had
collided with the building at 102 26th Street. He also saw the airbags had been
deployed but there was no sign of the driver.

However, communications told Flynn a witness to the
incident observed a male running north on Baltimore Avenue following the
collision. Further examination of the car revealed computer printed directions
that gave directions to the same residence listed on the registration of the
vehicle. According to the registration, the car belonged to a Miranda Lee
Sturgill of Fredericksburg, Va.

Flynn and other officers then went to the Baltimore Avenue
residence, also known as the Hilton Hotel, and were able to determine that the
owner of the vehicle was in fact residing there. Visiting the room, officers
met with Sturgill, 19, and a man identified as Eric Joseph Ellia.

According to police records, Sturgill said Ellia went to a
local bar earlier that night to drink and had recently returned with cuts and
abrasions on his face and arms.

Flynn then spoke with Ellia, who showed obvious signs of
intoxication and admitted to being the driver of the wrecked car. Ellia was
then placed under arrest and refused to submit to a breath test, saying, “I
just wrecked my $30,000 car, no need to test me, I’m drunk.”

Man Charged With
Assault Fakes Respiratory
Problems

OCEAN CITY – A Glen Burnie man was arrested Monday after
officers determined he had assaulted his girlfriend. However, following his
arrest, the man began to complain of breathing problems multiple times and at
one point even faked a seizure.

It was approximately 3:40 a.m. when OCPD Officer Danielle
Giordano responded to The Capri condominiums on 110th Street regarding a
domestic assault. Upon arrival, Giordano spoke with the person who had called
in the incident who happened to be the stepfather of the female who had been
assaulted.

According to police records, the stepfather was painting a
part of the condo when he heard a loud noise. After investigating the noise, he
discovered his stepdaughter’s boyfriend, John Wesley Tomer, 24, had been
drinking and gotten into a fight with his stepdaughter.

Officers then went to Tomer’s room where he immediately
became defensive, wondering why the police were there. Police spoke with
Tomer’s girlfriend who was upstairs and said she was about to go to bed when
Tomer entered and tried to pick a fight with her, ultimately taking her pillow
when she refused to respond.

According to police records, when she tried to take the
pillow back, Tomer shoved her into the wall, causing the loud noise her stepfather
heard and hurting her head. Officers then called EMS to make sure she was fine
and spoke with Tomer regarding the incident to which he admitted to pushing
her.

Tomer was then placed under arrest for assault but soon
began to complain of breathing problems due to stab wounds he had received
years ago. At one point he began to shake as if having a seizure but after a
few seconds sat back up and smiled, only to complain of breathing problems
again.

EMS was then called to examine Tomer who still claimed he
couldn’t breathe, but continued to speak just fine. When EMS offered to take
him to the hospital, he agreed but soon declined when the stretcher was
prepped.

Paramedics told officers they believed Tomer was faking
his problems as well and they soon transported him to the Public Safety
Building where he continued his act, this time holding his breath and making
spit come out of his mouth.

The ruse continued through booking as he continued to
complain of breathing problems from old stab wounds despite his ability to
speak fine. EMS was called and once again a different paramedic told officers
they believed he was faking but was taking him to the hospital this time
regardless.

He was later released and diagnosed with an anxiety
attack. However, on the way back from the hospital, Tomer told officers that
his girlfriend wasn’t going to testify against him because he was going to
“take care of it B-More style,” according to police records.

Woman Arrested On Warrant Found With
Drugs

OCEAN CITY – An Owings Mills woman found herself in the
custody of Ocean City Police last Saturday after officers saw her attempt to
leave the vehicle her husband was driving while it was still in motion.

According to police records, it was approximately 1 a.m.
when OCPD Officer Earl Campbell was on patrol near 67th Street when he noticed
a vehicle traveling southbound with its passenger side door open and the front
passenger beginning to exit as the car was still moving.

The passenger could be heard yelling at the driver who
continued to slow down, eventually coming to a stop. It was then the passenger
exited the vehicle and walked away.

Campbell approached the couple and spoke with the
passenger first who claimed she was having a verbal argument with her husband
and decided to get out of the vehicle. Campbell asked for her name and date of
birth but she refused, saying it would get her locked up.

Campbell asked again and she complied and was identified
as Deborah Ann Ziemski, 39. Campbell did a background check and discovered
Ziemski was wanted in Baltimore County on a bench warrant for failing to appear
in court on a traffic charge.

She was then placed under arrest and Campbell performed a
search of her purse where he found a small glass container containing crack
cocaine. Another container, one usually used to hold jewelry, was found as well
and it held a glass smoking pipe, a metal pin, and a lighter, all items used
for smoking cocaine. Two more pipes were found in the bottom of the purse as
well.

Ziemski was charged with possession of a controlled
dangerous substance as well as possession of drug paraphernalia

Man Rams Vehicle
Into Another,
Altercation Ensues

OCEAN CITY – A local man suspected to be under the
influence of alcohol and driving on a revoked license was arrested Friday night
after he rammed another man’s vehicle with his own and started a fight soon
afterwards.

It was approximately 7:23 p.m. when OCPD Officers Joseph
Melena and Frank Wrench responded to the area of 17th Street in reference to a
fight in progress. Upon arrival, officers saw a male, identified as Christopher
Welsh, restraining another man who was later identified as Jeffrey Stephen
Taylor, 45, of Ocean City. Officers also observed a green Ford that had
rear-ended a Toyota 4-Runner.

According to police records, Melena then asked Taylor to
have a seat while officers took control of the situation. Taylor refused,
having to lean against the fence to maintain his balance, eventually sitting
down after being asked multiple times to do so.

Melena then spoke with Taylor, who he believed to be
intoxicated due to his slurred speech, inability to hold his balance, and
glassy, bloodshot eyes, and asked him for his license. Taylor refused to do so,
saying he did not have one. Taylor gave his name and date of birth instead and
Melena conducted a background check that revealed Taylor’s license had been
revoked and suspended in Maryland.

Officers asked Taylor why he had been driving on a
suspended license and if it was suspended due to a previous DUI but he didn’t
give a clear answer.

Officers also spoke with a witness who was in a vehicle
behind Taylor and his green Ford at a red light on 17th Street. According to
the witness, Taylor began to rev his engine as he sat at the light and soon
rammed the Toyota 4-Runner that was in front of him.

The witness went on to say that the man who was rear-ended
exited his vehicle at which point Taylor began to back up. The man told Taylor
he was calling the police, which prompted Taylor to get out of his vehicle and
begin yelling profanities at the man he had just rear-ended. Soon after, Taylor
began punching the victim, who tried to defend himself, but Taylor only
relented.

According to the witness, the fight soon broke up when the
victim sat on a curb but Taylor approached the man again and punched him once
more. It was then that Christopher Welsh said he saw Taylor punching the
defenseless man saying, “I will [expletive deleted] kill you,” and stepped in
to restrain Taylor until police arrived.

Taylor was soon placed under arrest and transported to
Atlantic General Hospital for injuries sustained while being restrained.
According to police records, Taylor continued to be volatile at AGH where he
yelled profanities at both Melena and the AGH staff, along with threats of
killing Melena and his family. Although he was asked numerous times to
cooperate while in a public facility, he refused and finally stopped when
escorted out.

Suspended Sentence In Sex Assault Case

SNOW HILL – An Ocean City man arrested last November for
allegedly sexually assaulting a female victim at her apartment after the two
shared a taxi from a downtown bar pleaded guilty this week to second-degree
assault and was sentenced to 18 months in jail, all of which was suspended.

On Nov. 1, the female victim and a man later identified as
Stephen Blackwell, 37, of Ocean City, shared a cab from a bar on the Boardwalk
near 16th Street. The cab stopped at the 7-Eleven on 26th
Street where both of the occupants bought late night food, which they ate
together on the girl’s front deck. When the female victim said she was tired
and wanted to go to bed, suggesting it was time for Blackwell to leave,
Blackwell forced his way into her apartment and urged the victim to have sexual
relations with her.

When she refused, Blackwell pushed the victim to the couch
and began pulling off her clothes before sexually assaulting her manually. The
victim got away and locked herself in a bedroom when Blackwell repeatedly told
her he was going to kill her and that he was going to destroy the apartment.

The victim text-messaged her friends still at the bar,
saying “help me, somebody is trying to kill me,” and “please help now.” The
victim’s male friend came to the apartment where he saw a man, later identified
as Blackwell, leaving. The male friend found the victim in her apartment
relatively unharmed but physically shaken and went to find Blackwell, but the
suspect was gone.

In the meantime, Blackwell had called the victim’s cell
phone several times, and when police arrived, they identified his number on her
phone as his home address. He was later arrested at his home and charged with a
third- and fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault. This week,
Blackwell entered an Alford Plea to the second-degree assault charge and was
sentenced to 18 months in jail, all of which was suspended, and he was fined
$500.

Change Burglar Convicted

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man arrested in December for breaking into a
downtown apartment and stealing around $25 in change was found guilty this week
of theft under $500 and fourth-degree burglary and was sentenced to 18 months
in jail for each offense, all of which was suspended.

Kelly Lee Alexander,
42, of Ocean City, was arrested in January on second-, third-, and
fourth-degree burglary and theft under $500 charges when police were dispatched
to the Summer View Condominiums on 35th Street for a breaking and entering in
progress.
On Dec. 9, at approximately 4 a.m., OCPD Officer Charles Kelley was on marked
uniformed patrol when he was dispatched to an area of 35th Street for a
burglary. According to court documents, neighboring residents called police
when they heard the sound of glass breaking, which was followed by a door
slamming shut at the Summer View condominium.

The witnesses provided a description of a white male they
spotted running from the condo carrying an unknown object. Assisting officers
responded to the scene and began searching for the suspect when they noticed Alexander walking in the 31st Street area.
Police spoke with Alexander, who matched the witnesses’
description, and he reportedly told officers he was out for a walk to get away
from his kids and relax. However, officers grew suspicious when they noticed Alexander was covered in sand and had a large amount of
quarters totaling $24.75 in his possession.

Officers then contacted the property owner who said a jug
containing 12 years worth of quarters was stolen from the unit. Given the
evidence, Alexander was then placed under arrest for a
host of burglary and theft charges. Alexander this week was sentenced to 18
months in jail for the theft and burglary charges, all of which was suspended
in favor of probation and a $500 fine.

18 Months For
Hold-Up

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man who held up a resort
convenience store with an imaginary gun last December was found guilty of
robbery this week in Worcester County Circuit Court and was sentenced to seven
years in jail, all but 18 months of which were suspended.

On Dec. 16, OCPD Officer Earl Campbell was dispatched to
the 7-Eleven on North Division Street to investigate a robbery/assault call.
After tracking the suspect with a K-9 unit, the OCPD found the man, later
identified as Robert Riffey, 41, of Ocean City, at a nearby motel wearing
clothing that matched both witness testimony and surveillance tapes from the
store.

According to court documents, the clerk was sweeping the
floor when the suspect entered and wished to purchase a drink. While the clerk
was ringing up the soda, the suspect reached into his sweatshirt and mimicked
as if he had a gun and asked the clerk for money. After receiving a few small
bills, the suspect fled and the clerk reported the theft.
Campbell used his K-9 partner Charlie to then track the suspect who was found
less than two blocks away at the Madison Beach Hotel. Riffey
was found guilty of robbery this week and was sentenced to seven years in jail
with all but 18 months suspended. 

Candle Causes Condo
Fire

OCEAN CITY – A fire at an uptown high-rise condominium
unit last Saturday has been ruled accidental and was the result of combustible
material placed too close to an unattended candle.

Shortly after 10 a.m. last Saturday, April 1, the Ocean
City Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to the Quay Condominium for a
reported building fire. Initial crews learned from a maintenance worker that
there was a small fire in one of the high-rise’s units on the 13th
floor. The maintenance worker was able to extinguish the fire and located one
occupant in the unit.

Firefighters located the maintenance worker and the unit’s
occupant outside. Both were treated for smoke inhalation. Fire crews entering
the 13th floor hallway encountered heavy smoke and located the
smoke’s source in unit 1306. Firefighters remained on the scene for about an
hour performing smoke and overhaul operations.

The Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire
started in the kitchen area of the unit and the bulk of the fire and heat
damage was contained to the kitchen area. The fire has been ruled an accident,
the result of combustible material too close to an unattended candle.

Trespassing, Drug
Arrests

BERLIN – Berlin Police last week made two separate arrests
for trespassing and drug charges in as many days at a Flower Street apartment
complex.

On March 29, Berlin Police observed Jesse Lee Harmon, 44,
trespassing at the Homes of Berlin I apartment complex, a location he had been
barred from. When the officer approached, Harmon fled and was caught a short
distance away. After a brief struggle, he was taken into custody and charged
with trespassing, resisting arrest, possession of cocaine and possession of
paraphernalia.

Two days later, on March 31, Berlin Police arrested Leroy
Leonard, 33, of Berlin for trespassing at Homes of Berlin I. Leonard was
charged with cocaine possession and paraphernalia possession when a search of
his person turned up a small amount of crack cocaine and a smoking device. He
was held on a $25,000 bond and remanded to the county jail.

Downtown Fire

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company
responded to a fire at a vacant unit in a downtown apartment building last
Saturday afternoon.

Shortly after noon last Saturday, firefighters responded
to a reported fire at an apartment building on 1st Street. First
arrivers reported heavy smoke coming from the second floor of the building. The
fire was located in an apartment on the second floor of the building and was
quickly extinguished, although fire crews remained on the scene for about two
hours.

The Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire
began in the kitchen area of the second-floor unit. The bulk of the heat and
fire damage was contained to the second floor unit, but the first floor unit
suffered water damage. No one was living in the second floor unit at the time
of the fire and it was unoccupied. Somebody was living in the first-floor unit,
but it was unoccupied at the time of the fire. The cause of the blaze is still
under investigation.

Crab Enforcement Stepped Up

OCEAN CITY – With
the season opening last weekend, the Maryland Natural Resources Police
(NRP) conducted blue crab enforcement patrols last Saturday and Sunday, March
31 and April 1 in the back bays of Ocean City.

The goal of the patrols is to reduce the number of
potential personal injuries due to insufficient safety equipment, and to remind
commercial watermen of crabbing regulations specific to fishing the back bays.

Officers
checked a total of 41 commercial workboats and issued 24 warnings, mostly for
insufficient safety equipment. On Sunday, NRP issued two citations for
undersized crabs and one citation for no personal flotation device (PFD). The
blue crab season opened April 1 and runs through Dec. 15. 

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