Alleged Knife Assault

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OCEAN PINES- A West Ocean City man was arrested on first-degree assault charges last week after allegedly chasing another man around a residence in Ocean Pines with a knife.

A little after 10 p.m. on October 2, an Ocean Pines Police officer responded to a residence on Brandywine Drive in Ocean Pines for a reported attempted assault with a pocketknife. The officer met with the alleged victim, who told police he was waiting for his girlfriend when he was approached by another man, later identified as Michael A. Cooper, 24, of Ocean Pines. The victim told police Cooper said to him, “You really want me to put you in the hospital, don’t you?”

Cooper then allegedly put his daughter in his truck and proceeded to pull out a pocketknife and began to chase the victim around the property. The victim told police he took a socket wrench from his own vehicle, but never confronted Cooper with it. After allegedly chasing the victim with the knife, Cooper got back in his truck and left the scene.

A description of the vehicle was broadcast and it was located a short time later in Showell Park. Cooper was identified on the scene and was found in possession of a Winchester pocketknife with a three-inch blade in plain view clipped to his right front pocket. The victim later identified the knife as the weapon with which Cooper chased him.

Cooper was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree assault. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and later released on his own recognizance.

Three Arrested in Vehicle Thefts

OCEAN PINES- Two adults and a juvenile were arrested on auto theft charges last week for their roles in two separate incidents in Ocean Pines over the last two weeks.

The first incident involved the unauthorized taking of a vehicle from a residence in Ocean Pines back on October 1. The second involved the theft of a motorcycle from a residence in Ocean Pines on October 13. Ocean Pines Police were able to connect three suspects to the two theft incidents.

Ashalom Johnson, 20, of Berlin was connected to both incidents. He was arrested and charged with one count of unauthorized use of an automobile and one count of auto theft. Richard Lee Huffman, 20, of Berlin, was charged with one count of auto theft related to the taking of the motorcycle on October 13. In addition, a 17-year-old juvenile was also arrested in connection with the October 1 theft of an automobile. Both Johnson and Huffman were taken before a District Court Commissioner and are being held in the Worcester County Detention Center pending trial.

Dine and Dash Leads to Burglary Suspects

OCEAN CITY- One woman was arrested and two males remain suspects in three burglaries reported in Fenwick Island after the trio allegedly left a midtown Ocean City restaurant last week without paying their check.

Around 7:15 p.m. last Friday, Ocean City Police responded to the Bonfire Restaurant on 70th Street to investigate three people leaving the establishment without paying their check. Through the investigation, police learned one of the suspects, a white female, later identified as Katheryne Lenora Niquette Hart, 26, of Fruitland, had gotten into a late model Cadillac and was attempting to leave the restaurant parking lot.

An OCPD officer stopped the vehicle attempting to leave and during the traffic stop, the officer suspected Hart might be operating while intoxicated or impaired. She was soon after arrested for drunk driving. The Cadillac was subsequently towed from Coastal Highway, and a routine inventory of the car revealed three flat-screen televisions as well as several unopened bottles of assorted liquors in the trunk.

An investigation by OCPD detectives revealed the televisions and various other items had been reported stolen during three separate burglaries in Fenwick Island. Ocean City detectives have since identified the two male suspects who were present with Hart during the dine-and-dash at the Bonfire restaurant. OCPD detectives this week are working with Fenwick Island Police in an effort to connect three burglaries there to Hart and the suspects nabbed in the Bonfire incident.

Ocean Pines Police Inspection

OCEAN PINES- The Ocean Pine Police Department recently conducted a safety inspection of its personnel and an audit of its equipment.

Ocean Pines Police were thoroughly inspected for appearance, while vehicles were inspected for required equipment and police headquarters, including the entire property and the evidence room, were audited. The goal of the staff inspection was to maintain both a professional appearance and determine any internal needs and controls that are necessary to make the department more efficient.

“During my tenure as Ocean City Police Chief, I found that periodic staff inspection is a way to instill pride and to ensure that standards are constantly being adhered to,” said OP Chief Dave Massey. “In addition to the daily inspection of personnel by supervisors, staff inspection raises that level of scrutiny to the command level staff.”

Commercial Burglaries Cleared

OCEAN CITY- A Berlin man was arrested last week after resort detectives were able to connect him to three commercial burglaries in the resort as well as the theft of over a dozen vehicle license plates dating back to 2005.

Back on October 1, an OCPD detective responded to the pool bar at the Plim Plaza in reference to a reported burglary. During the on-scene investigation, the detective obtained a surveillance video showing a suspect, later identified as Roger Vincent Weldon, 20, of Berlin at the scene of the crime. Detectives were able to identify Weldon as the suspect and secured a search and seizure warrant for his residence.

During the search of Weldon’s house, evidence was collected and stolen property was recovered linking Weldon to three reported commercial burglaries in the resort including two incidents at Plim Plaza and one at the Jolly Roger Amusement Park. In addition, police also located in Weldon’s residence 13 license plates from various states and Canada. It was later determined the license plates were stolen on Assateague back in August 2005. That information was forwarded to Assateague Island authorities.

During the search of Weldon’s residence, OCPD detectives recovered roughly $2,000 in stolen items connected to the burglaries at Plim Plaza and Jolly Rogers. The three open commercial burglary cases have been closed, although the investigation is continuing to identify additional suspects and additional charges are pending. Weldon has been charged with one count of felony second-degree burglary and two counts of misdemeanor fourth-degree burglary. Weldon was taken before a District Court Commissioner and released after posting a $25,000 bond.

Locals Busted in Pot Raid

OCEAN CITY- Two local men were arrested on marijuana and paraphernalia possession charges this week after the Ocean City Police Quick Response Team (QRT) and the narcotics unit raided their residence on Jamestown Rd.

Shortly after 7 a.m. last Saturday, members of the QRT team and the narcotics unit served a search warrant signed days earlier by Judge Daniel Mumford on a residence on Jamestown Rd. Upon entry, the QRT secured the residence and placed the two occupants, brothers Paul Christopher Day, 52, of Ocean City, and Timothy Daniel Day, 49, in custody.

After the residence was secured, narcotics detectives began searching the unit. In Timothy Day’s bedroom, police allegedly found two plastic baggies of marijuana, one multi-colored glass pipe containing marijuana residue and one bond with marijuana residue. In Paul Day’s bedroom, police allegedly found two baggies of marijuana, one marijuana grinder, one bong with marijuana residue and some currency. Both were charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

Fatal Hit-and-Run Trial Postponed

SNOW HILL- A Berlin man facing serious charges including negligent homicide by motor vehicle after an alleged hit-and-run accident on the Route 50 bridge this summer that claimed the life of another local man had his trial postponed this week while awaiting the final accident reconstruction report.

Around 2:26 a.m. on June 26, Maryland State Police troopers were dispatched to the Harry Kelley Memorial Bridge for an alleged hit-and-run accident involving a motor vehicle and two bicyclists. The investigation revealed a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado, driven by Daniel M. Bren, 34, of Berlin, was traveling in the far right lane of the bridge when it allegedly struck two bicyclists, who were riding in the travel lanes, from behind.

The two victims, identified as Edward Joseph Zisk, 41, and Maxim Matuzov, 20, both of Ocean City, were ejected from their bicycles. Matuzov sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to PRMC for treatment. His condition remains unknown this week. Zisk, however, was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to police reports, Bren allegedly continued west across the bridge after the collision and was later apprehended after a high-speed attempt to flee the scene. A cab driver traveling on the bridge called 911 and pursued the suspect as he continued across the bridge after the collision. The cab driver stayed on the line with the 911 dispatcher as she pursued the Silverado first down Golf Course Rd. in West Ocean City and across Center Drive to Keyser Point Rd., where she lost sight of the allegedly fleeing driver.

A short time later, Maryland State Police troopers contacted the cab driver and told her the suspect had been stopped on westbound Route 50 near the WAC Center. Police advised the cab driver and her fare to proceed to the arrest site to identify the truck and the suspect. At the scene of the stop, Bren was administered field sobriety tests and was found to be operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, according to police reports.

Bren was arrested and charged with numerous criminal and traffic violations including negligent homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence.

Bren appeared in District Court for a preliminary hearing in August during which Judge Gerald Purnell set his trial date for October 20 and ordered him held on home detention until that time. On Tuesday, however, the trial was postponed because the final reconstruction report had not been filed yet.

Judge Admonishes Combatants

SNOW HILL- District Court Judge Gerald Purnell this week read the riot act to a pair of antagonists in an ongoing assault case related to $7 in rent.

On Tuesday in District Court, Harold Miller of Cambridge appeared to face second-degree assault charges from an incident in August when a feud with a tenant over $7 in rent. According to the victim, Theodore Cropper, Miller confronted him on August 10 about the missing $7 in rent, and after Miller allegedly got in face several times, Cropper said he turned to walk away. Miller then allegedly poked Cropper in the back to get him to stop walking away, at which point Cropper had Miller arrested for assault.

The case came to trial on Tuesday in District Court, but Purnell quickly dismissed the minor incident and admonished the combatants to work it out between themselves and stop wasting the court’s time with the petty incident.

“What makes you two think the court wants to get involved in this dispute about $7 dollars in rent and an alleged poke in the back?” he said. “This case is dismissed, now go out and try to lead productive lives and get over this.”

It was not the first time the pair had been in front of the judge for the same incident, and another petty dispute between the pair is still pending, for which Purnell advised them not to come back before him.

“This case is dismissed, and I hope at least one of you has the sense to make the other one go away,” he said.

Judge Stays on a Roll

SNOW HILL- Minutes after dismissing an alleged assault case over a disputed $7 in rent, District Court Judge Gerald Purnell abruptly dismissed another seemingly petty case involving one cousin taking a swing at another.

In District Court on Tuesday, defendant Azam Purnell, 18, of Snow Hill, appeared to face second-degree assault charges for allegedly taking a swing at his elderly cousin in a Snow Hill convenience store during an incident back on August 7. The victim, Avery Harman, was called as a witness in the case and told the court how he went to the Chicken Man store in Snow Hill to get some food when he was confronted by Purnell, his cousin.

Harman said he was standing in the doorway of the store when Purnell arrived and took a swing at him with his fist, nearly striking him in the face. Harman said the alleged attack was unprovoked and he was not certain why his cousin took a swing at him. He said he filed assault charges against his younger cousin, which is how the case ended up on Tuesday in front of Judge Purnell, who was less than pleased to be caught in the middle of the family confrontation.

“He took a swing at you, but neither of you can tell me what this is all about,” he said. “I don’t know why he did it, but this case is dismissed. Now, you two are cousins and I suggest you go out of here today and try to be civil to each other.”

Mom Says Stay Put

SNOW HILL- A Berlin man remains behind bars this week after a bond review hearing in District Court this week when his mother refused to accept responsibility for his showing up for future court cases should he be released.

Brandon Krieger, 19, of Berlin, appeared in District Court in Snow Hill on Tuesday for a review of his $25,000 bond. District Court Judge Gerald Purnell offered to reduce Krieger’s bond is his mother, who was present in the courtroom, agreed to take responsibility for him. The judge explained he could reduce Krieger’s bond and let him go free that morning, but that his mother would have to take responsibility if her son’s bail was revoked and ensure he appeared for subsequent court dates.

“He’s clearly a knucklehead,” the judge said. “He has made has bed and he can lie in it.”

With that the mother opted not to take responsibility for the revised bond for Krieger was returned to custody.

Rather Stay then Pay

SNOW HILL- A Pittsville man, who pleaded guilty this week to driving under the influence, told a District Court judge he would rather go to jail than accept probation before judgment and all the costs and fees and classes associated with the lesser sentence.

Brian Gravenor, 39, of Pittsville, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol stemming from his arrest in March near Route 113 and Bay Street. Gravenor was pulled over in part because of the loud music emanating from his car stereo and was found with liquor bottles in his vehicle.

Gravenor, who had one prior conviction, was offered probation before judgment along with a 30-day sentence, of which Judge Gerald Purnell was prepared to suspend all but two days. However, Gravenor told the judge, because of his financial situation, he would prefer not to get probation before judgment because of all the costs associated with classes and other fees and opted instead for the jail term. With that said, Purnell sentenced Gravenor to 30 days in jail with all but 10 suspended, and put the defendant on unsupervised probation for one year following his release. Gravenor began serving the sentence on Tuesday.

Citations for Boat Fires

OCEAN PINES- The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office this week is investigating an un-permitted controlled during which two boats were intentionally set ablaze on Taylorville Lane in Berlin.

Around 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, the Berlin Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to a marine repair facility on Taylorville Lane in Berlin. Upon arrival, Berlin firefighters determined an employee of the marine repair facility had intentionally set fire to two boats on the property in an attempt to purposely destroy them. The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene and issued two citations for violating the Worcester County Fire Prevention Code on outdoor burning without a permit. The Berlin Fire Company remained on the scene for about 45 minutes while extinguishing the two boat fires.

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