Arson Suspect Arrested
WEST OCEAN CITY – A Snow Hill man with a history of mischief in West Ocean City was arrested on first-degree arson and other charges last week after the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office was able to connect him to an April 11 residential fire on Keyser Point Rd.
Ocean City firefighters responded to a reported fire at a residence on Keyser Point Rd. A neighbor reported the fire. First-arriving units reported heavy fire showing from the rear of the single-story dwelling. The fire was quickly extinguished with no injuries reported. The Berlin Volunteer Fire Company also responded to assist. The residence was unoccupied at the time of the blaze.
During the course of the investigation, the Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire had been intentionally set and ruled it an arson case, although no suspect or suspects were immediately identified. Last week, however, the Fire Marshal’s Office concluded its investigation with the arrest of Thomas W. Sellers, 53, whose last known address was in Snow Hill. Sellers has been charged with first- and second-degree arson and his being held in the Worcester County Jail on a $50,000 bond.
For Sellers, his arrest last week on arson charges for the Keyser Point Rd. fire was just the most recent string of incidents in the same area. In August, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail for trespassing at a residence on Keyser Point Rd. In that incident dating back to March 2009, Sellers entered the West Ocean City residence uninvited and later slashed the tires of a truck in the back yard.
On March 23, 2009, a Maryland State Police trooper responded to a residence on Keyser Point Rd. in West Ocean City for a reported burglary. The trooper met with the victim who told police three different witnesses had seen a man they knew as Sellers enter the home illegally the day before. According to the witnesses, Sellers announced he was going into the residence, which he had been banned from in the past, to use the bathroom.
While inside, the witnesses reported hearing Sellers rummage through cabinets in the home. The property owner returned and confronted Sellers, who said he had entered the locked residence after finding a hidden key outside. According to police reports, when Sellers left the residence, he went out to the back yard and slashed the tires of an unregistered Ford F-150 truck. Sellers had slashed other tires on the vehicle during an earlier incident.
Traffic Stop Nets Pot Bust
BERLIN – A Dagsboro man was arrested on marijuana possession charges last week after a routine traffic stop on Route 50 near Berlin.
Around 6 p.m. on Sunday, a Maryland State Police trooper stopped a vehicle on Route 50 near Route 346 in Berlin for a traffic violation. Upon making contact with the driver, identified as Jennings Bryce Richard, 39, of Dagsboro, the trooper detected the strong odor on marijuana. A search revealed a bag of marijuana and a smoking device on Richard, who was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.
Berlin Couple Displaced By Fire
BERLIN – A Berlin couple was displaced by an accidental residential fire caused by faulty wiring on a table lamp on Monday afternoon.
Around 3:15 p.m. on Monday, firefighters from the Berlin, Showell and Newark volunteer fire companies responded to a reported residential fire on Shire Drive. Berlin command officers reported smoke visible from the exterior of the structure. The fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes and confined to the living room area.
The residence was unoccupied at the time although a family cat did not survive the fire. The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office investigated the fire and determined it was accidental. The cause of the fire is being blamed on faulty wiring on a lamp located on an end table.
Cocaine, Pot Seized
BERLIN – A Pennsylvania woman living in Ocean City for the summer was arrested on drug distribution and other charges last week after a traffic stop on Route 50 near Berlin.
Shortly before 11 p.m. last Wednesday, a Berlin Police officer working patrol as part of the state’s Smooth Operator initiative pulled over a vehicle for speeding on Route 50 at Route 346. Upon making contact with the occupants of the vehicle, the officer detected the odor of marijuana and a probable cause search was conducted.
During the search, Berlin Police officers located an ounce of cocaine, two ounces of marijuana, a stun gun and a false identification card in a purse located in the trunk of the vehicle. Also seized during the search was $310 in currency. The investigation revealed the purse belonged to an occupant of the vehicle identified as Tessa Marie Vermilva, 18, of Williamsport, Pa., who is reportedly living in Ocean City for the summer.
Vermilva was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana along with simple possession of cocaine and marijuana. She was taken before a District Court Commissioner and ordered held in the Worcester County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
Handguns Recovered In Traffic Stop
BERLIN – A Stockton man was arrested on weapons possession charges last week after a routine traffic stop in the south end of the county.
Last Wednesday, Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies on routine patrol in the area of Market Street in Pocomoke pulled over a vehicle driven by Kevin Melson, 19, for a traffic violation. A search of the vehicle resulted in the recovery of two handguns. Melson was arrested and charged with two counts of having a handgun in a vehicle and two counts of having a handgun on one’s person. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and ordered held on a $10,000 bond.
Power Window Failure
Blamed For Vehicle Fire
SNOW HILL – A defective power window mechanism is being blamed for a vehicle fire in Snow Hill last week.
Last Wednesday, the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the area of a fashion store in Snow Hill to assist the fire department with a reported vehicle fire. First-arriving units reported heavy smoke in the passenger compartment, but found the vehicle’s doors were locked. Ultimately, firefighters were able to gain entry by breeching the driver’s side window.
Probation, Fines For Pot Possession
OCEAN CITY – The second of two Pennsylvania men arrested in June on drug possession and various weapons charges pleaded guilty last week in District Court to possession of marijuana and was placed on probation for a year and fined $300.
Around 10:45 p.m. on June 17, OCPD officers on bike patrol in the downtown area observed two males sitting in a vehicle on the side of Edgewater Ave., one of whom appeared to be passed out. When the officers approached the vehicle, they observed the passenger, identified as Kyle Joseph Walls, 20, of Glen Mills, Pa., attempting to hide something under the front seat.
Walls and the driver, identified as Nathan Daniel Bryant, 19, of Coatesville, Pa., were asked to step out of the vehicle and were interviewed by separate OCPD officers. Walls told the officer there was marijuana in the vehicle, and when Bryant was questioned about the suspected pot, he told police it was in a backpack in the trunk.
The marijuana was located in the trunk as described, but when the officers asked Bryant if there was anything else in the vehicle the police needed to know about, Bryant allegedly told them his father’s handgun was under the front seat.
A search of the vehicle revealed a Beretta semi-automatic handgun with a full magazine of eight rounds in a holster under the front seat. Bryant was arrested on weapons and marijuana possession charges, while Walls was arrested on marijuana possession charges.
Last week, Walls pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana and was fined $300 and placed on probation for one year. Bryant pleaded to the same charge earlier in August and was also fined and placed on probation.
‘Moron’ Gets Fine, Probation
OCEAN CITY – A Pennsylvania man was arrested in late July for pulling a fire alarm at a mid-town condominium building in an effort to find out where his friends were staying pleaded guilty last week in District Court to disorderly conduct and was fined $500 and placed on probation for one year.
Shortly before 4 a.m. on July 31, OCPD officers were dispatched to the San Remo condominium on 54th Street for a reported disorderly subject. The complainant told police an unknown male subject was banging on her door and harassing her. While en route, the OCPD officers received a call that the fire alarm for the condo building had been activated.
As the officers approached, they saw a man, later identified as Rashawn A. Parrish, 29, of Levittown, Pa., running from the San Remo parking garage. Meanwhile, the OCPD officers received a description of the suspect who was allegedly banging on a door earlier and the description matched that of Parrish. The witness told police she believed the same suspect who had been knocking on her door had pulled the fire alarm for the building.
The officers located Parrish nearby and questioned him about the incident. They asked Parrish if he had just come from the San Remo and he said that he had, but when they asked him if he had been banging on doors, he said no. When asked a second time if he could have accidentally banged on the wrong door, he admitted that he had.
Finally, the officers asked Parrish if he had pulled the fire alarm and he admitted doing it. When asked why he would pull the alarm when there was clearly no fire or emergency, Parrish told police he could not find his friends and he believed if he pulled the fire alarm, they would come out of their respective room. Parrish then apologized and said, “I am a moron.”
Last week, Parrish pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was fined $500 and placed on probation for one year.
OC Laser Pointer Problem
Exported to Other Areas
OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s problem with green laser pointers, essentially outlawed in the resort by a mid-summer emergency ordinance passed by the town council, has reportedly been exported to other areas in Maryland, forcing law enforcement agencies across the state this week to issue strong warnings about the dangerous Boardwalk novelty and their impacts on police and emergency services aviation.
On Wednesday, law enforcement officials from around Maryland gathered at the Maryland State Police Aviation Command headquarters at the Martin State Airport in Baltimore County to discuss the growing danger facing police and emergency services helicopters caused by individuals flashing green laser pointers at their aircraft while in flight. The roundtable discussion was prompted by an increased use of the novelty laser pointers, which became so popular in Ocean City this summer before town officials essentially outlawed them, on police and emergency services aviation.
One incident occurred in Ocean City earlier this summer when an individual shined a green laser pointer on a Maryland State Police helicopter attempting to land in the resort to pick up a trauma patient. The aforementioned incident was one of many reported through the first half of the summer in Ocean City when the Boardwalk craze reached its peak.
However, similar incidents have been reported all over the state in recent weeks, forcing Wednesday’s forum on curtailing their sale and use and prosecuting those caught shining the menacing devices on helicopters and planes. In one incident in Baltimore County, pilots in an MSP helicopter were briefly blinded by a green laser pointer on the ground, but recovered in time to report the location of the perpetrator to officers on the ground, who arrested the individual for reckless endangerment.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the number of laser incidents has increased 500 percent this year with 50 incidents reported in the Baltimore and Washington areas this summer. According to an MSP release, police believe the recent spike in incidents is directly related to people bringing their green laser pointers home from vacation. The summit at MSP aviation command headquarters on Wednesday was expected to include a discussion on how best to prosecute offenders in the fairly recent trend.
OCPD Officers Receive
Traffic Safety Honors
OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Police Department this week announced two veteran officers have received the designation of Traffic Safety Specialist-1 (TSS-1) from the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions.
The TSS program recognizes police officers for their experience, training and proficiency in traffic safety enforcement operations and is open to all officers, deputies and troopers in the state of Maryland. This week, OCPD officials announced Sgt. Doug Collier and Pfc. Alan Hawk had earned the distinction.
“We are very proud of Sgt. Collier and Pfc. Hawk and their achievement of reaching the designation of TSS-1,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino. “Effective traffic enforcement translates into fewer crashes, fewer injuries and fewer deaths on our roadways. Traffic safety is public safety and we congratulate Sgt. Collier and Pfc. Hawk on their very distinguished achievement.”
To qualify for the TSS Level 1 designation, an officer must have at least two years of independent patrol experience and must be certified in speed detection equipment and standardized field sobriety testing procedures. In addition, the officer seeking a TSS-1 designation must have achieved at least 16 hours of advanced traffic safety-related training and completed a series of electives intended to demonstrate the officer’s continuing commitment to traffic safety.