OCEAN CITY – A Berlin man, who remains hospitalized as of yesterday, faces first-degree attempted murder and other charges this week after allegedly stabbing his estranged wife in the mid-town area before being shot by an officer.
Shortly after 11 a.m. on Monday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to a 911 call for a domestic dispute on 82nd Street. When the officers arrived on the scene, they discovered a suspect, later identified as Marvin Jefferson Mitchell, 27 was armed with a knife and was attacking a female victim, later identified as Shanna Mitchell, 27, of Berlin, who is the suspect’s estranged wife.
According to police reports, after repeated orders to drop the knife were not heeded by Mitchell, an OCPD officer was forced to shoot the suspect in order to end his attack on his estranged wife. Both the victim and the suspect survived the attacks. The female victim suffered a stab wound as a result of the attack and was treated at the scene by Ocean City Fire Department paramedics before being transferred to PRMC in Salisbury. As of late yesterday, the victim was still hospitalized in stable condition.
Mitchell was also treated at the scene for a gunshot wound reportedly in the abdomen and was also taken to PRMC where he is listed in stable condition. On Tuesday, the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) charged Mitchell with attempted first- and second-degree murder, first- and third-degree burglary, first- and second-degree assault, possession of a dangerous weapon with intent to injure, reckless endangerment and violation of a protective order.
Just five days before Monday’s incident, Mitchell was arrested and charged with second-degree assault for an unknown incident. On the same day, Dec. 15, Shanna Mitchell obtained a temporary protective order against her estranged husband, Marvin Mitchell, prohibiting him from contacting her or entering her residence. The temporary restraining order also ordered Mitchell to stay away from her place of employment.
Meanwhile, the OCPD officer who was forced to shoot Marvin Mitchell, identified as 11-year-veteran Corporal Richard Wawrzeniak, has been placed on paid administrative leave as part of the standard protocol for a police officer involved in a shooting incident. The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit, along with WCBI, is investigating the incident, according to OCPD Chief Bernadette DiPino.
“Corporal Wawrzeniak has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation by an outside agency, which is standard procedure,” she said yesterday. “We’re also conducting our own parallel investigation to make sure all of our procedures were adhered to.”
Meanwhile, DiPino praised the actions of Wawrzeniak and the other officers involved in Monday’s incident.
“Our officers were heroic in their actions and very likely saved lives during the incident,” she said. “We have a very professional police department and our officers responded appropriately under very stressful conditions.”
DiPino said Wawrzeniak and the other officers involved remained calm during the otherwise dicey situation.
“To come upon a person actively stabbing another person with children around, it took all of their mental fortitude to act appropriately and every one of our officers did exactly what they were trained to do in a situation like this, even though it obviously doesn’t happen very often around here,” she said.
DiPino said she thought it had been over 10 years since an OCPD officer was forced to discharge his or her weapon in the line of duty and an archive search appears to bear that out.
Back in August of 1992, an OCPD officer shot and killed a suspect outside a Boardwalk motel moments after the suspect had just shot and killed another man with a shotgun.
In that incident, an OCPD officer mounted on horseback fatally shot the suspect, identified as John W. Taylor, 38, of Salisbury, once in the chest at around 2:40 a.m. on Aug. 31, 1992, after responding to the scene after hearing a shotgun blast. The officer found a victim lying in a pool of blood in a walkway and reported observing Taylor holding a gun on a second individual in what was reported at the time as a robbery attempt.
Taylor apparently fled the scene on foot after seeing the mounted OCPD officer, who pursued the suspect. According to reports of the incident, despite the officer’s warnings to halt, Taylor, who was armed with a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun, turned around and advanced toward the officer with the shotgun in an apparent position to fire.
“The officer, in fear for his life, fired from horseback at the suspect, hitting Mr. Taylor once in the chest area,” said then-OCPD Chief Dave Massey at the time.
Taylor’s robbery victim was pronounced dead at the scene, while Taylor died en route to the hospital. The fatal shooting of Taylor by the police officer is believed to be the first such incident in the history of the Ocean City Police Department, which dates to the 1930s.