Graffiti Spree Ends in Arrest

OCEAN CITY – A La Plata, Md. man was arrested on malicious destruction of property charges last week after an alleged downtown Ocean City graffiti spree on Thanksgiving.

Shortly before 2 p.m. last Thursday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer on routine patrol in the area of North Division Street observed a man, later identified as Benjamin Keyton, 22, of La Plata, pull a white marker from his pocket and write the number “237” on a black dumpster owned by the town of Ocean City. The officer continued to observe Keyton as he placed a sticker on a green electrical box on North Division Street before continuing to walk toward the Boardwalk with another man.

The officer caught up to Keyton at the Boardwalk and observed the white marker on the right side of the suspect’s pants. At that point, Keyton was placed under arrest for malicious destruction of property. When the officer told Keyton he observed him “tag” the dumpster, tag is slang for writing graffiti, the suspect said, “Yes sir, I know,” and “I will show you the other places that I tagged,” and “I’m sorry sir, can I go,” according to police reports.

The officer placed Keyton in his patrol car and the suspect showed the officer the other places he had either marked with graffiti or placed a sticker on town property. Heading north on Baltimore Ave., the suspect identified 10 different locations including dumpsters, electric boxes and bus stop benches. The initial estimate of the damage came in over $500 and almost every case, the property belonged to the town of Ocean City.

Bottle Smasher Convicted

OCEAN CITY – A Washington, D.C. man arrested on serious charges in August after smashing his stepfather in the face with a bottle during a fight over keys to a truck pleaded guilty last week in District Court to second-degree assault and awaits his fate pending a sentencing hearing later this month.

Around 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 14, an OCPD officer on bike patrol in the area of 8th Street was dispatched to a fight in progress nearby. Upon arrival, the officer observed a man later identified as Henry Barroa, 37, with severe lacerations under his right eye and his face covered in blood. The victim explained his stepson, later identified as Alex Contreras, 20, of Washington, D.C., had struck him in the face with a bottle, causing the two severe lacerations under his eye.

The investigation revealed the victim refused to give the keys to a truck to another stepson, resulting in a physical altercation. While the two were scuffling over the keys, Contreras allegedly came over and struck the victim in the face with a bottle. A witness told police Contreras had left the scene but was still nearby.

The officer soon located Contreras, whose shirt was covered in blood. Contreras allegedly told police he was only trying to defend his stepbrother. Contreras was charges with first- and second-degree assault and carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure. Last week in District Court, Contreras pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, but his sentence was deferred until a hearing on December 17. The other charges against Contreras were dropped as part of the plea deal.

Handgun Charge Dropped

OCEAN CITY – A Delaware man was arrested on drug and weapons charges in August after an OCPD K-9 unit on routine patrol in a downtown parking lot alerted on his vacant vehicle had the handgun charge against him dropped this week in District Court and was placed on probation for the marijuana charge.

Around 11 p.m. on Aug. 20, OCPD conducted a random K-9 drug detection scan of vehicles parked in the municipal parking lot at Worcester Street, during which a police K-9 dog alerted on a vacant vehicle. OCPD officer watched the vehicle and observed a suspect, later identified as Rashawk De Alo Johnson, 23, of Dover, Del., along with several other people, return and enter the car.

OCPD officers approached the vehicle and identified Johnson as the owner. A search of the vehicle turned up an unknown quantity of marijuana and a .45-caliber handgun. Johnson was arrested and charged with possession of a handgun and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. This week, Johnson was granted probation before judgment on the marijuana possession charge and was placed on probation for one year. The handgun charge was dropped.

Fine For False Statement

OCEAN CITY – A Frederick, Md. man arrested in June on first-degree assault and other serious charges after first dragging his girlfriend with his car with her hand locked in the door and later lying to police about his identity when he attempted to pick her up from the hospital pleaded guilty last week to making a false statement to police and was fined $500.

Myron C. Hammond, 25, of Frederick appeared in District Court last week to face several charges related to the bizarre incident in June and pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a police officer. He was fined $500. The first-degree assault charge against Hammond was dropped in July and the charges of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment were dropped last week as part of the plea arrangement.

Shortly after 7 p.m. on June 11, an OCPD officer responded to an area near the Islander Motel on Philadelphia Ave. to assist with a reported EMS call. Once on the scene, the officers learned the female victim had possibly been the victim of a domestic assault and had been transported to Atlantic General Hospital with serious injuries including a broken right hand and abrasions along her right leg from her hip to her feet.

An OCPD officer responded to AGH and met with the female victim to try to determine what had happened. The victim told police she and her boyfriend, Hammond, had left a mid-town nightclub in their rented vehicle and had gotten into a verbal argument. According the victim, the verbal argument continued as they traveled south on Coastal Highway until Hammond stopped the vehicle near the Islander Motel on Philadelphia Ave.

The victim told police when the vehicle stopped and the door was open, Hammond pushed her out and she landed on the ground. Two times, the victim attempted to get back in the vehicle and twice Hammond pushed her back out and onto the ground. According to police reports, the second time Hammond pushed the victim out of the vehicle, he put the car in reverse and floored it, causing the car door to slam on the victim’s hand.

With the victim’s hand trapped in the locked door, Hammond allegedly continued in reverse, dragging her along the pavement. The victim told the investigating officer a friend named “Jeremiah” was coming to the hospital to pick her up. The OCPD officer later met with Jeremiah at the hospital and asked him if was a friend of the victim’s. When Jeremiah was asked if he knew Hammond, he allegedly said “Yeah, I know him. We’re not close, but I know him.”

At that point, the officer did not know what Hammond looked like. The officer asked Jeremiah if anything like this had happened before between Hammond and the victim, to which he replied, “they have their fights, but noting like this.” The officer then asked Jeremiah if he thought Hammond would stay in Ocean City or go back to Frederick, to which Jeremiah responded he thought Hammond would do the latter.

The officer continued to question Jeremiah, who provided a name and date of birth, but did not have a photo ID on his person. In the meantime, OCPD communications forwarded a picture of Hammond to the officer, who noted a stark resemblance between the suspect and “Jeremiah.”

The officer showed Jeremiah the pictured of Hammond and asked “who is this?” according to police reports, to which Jeremiah confirmed it was him. “That’s not Myron, that’s me,” he said, according to police reports. With the assistance of Berlin Police and a mobile computer, the OCPD officer made several attempts to identify the individual who was calling himself Jeremiah Dorsey, to no avail. When Hammond’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) information was pulled up on the computer, the OCPD officer knew “Jeremiah” was indeed Hammond, although Hammond attempted to continue the charade.

Even the victim, who was now awake, continued to tell the officer the man waiting for her was her friend Jeremiah. Hammond was placed under arrest and a search of his person revealed his real driver’s license in his pocket. He was charged with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and obstructing and hindering an investigation.

Plea Deal In False Kidnapping

BERLIN – A Berlin man arrested on drug charges in July after it was falsely reported he had kidnapped a girl and was holding her at gunpoint in his vehicle on Route 50 pleaded guilty last week in District Court to possession and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, all of which was suspended in favor of a fine.

Shortly before 3:30 a.m. on July 12, the Worcester County 911 dispatch center received a call in reference to a person being held against their will in a vehicle in the area of westbound Route 50 near Holly Grove Rd. Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the scene and attempted to locate the vehicle. While en route, the deputies got an update that the caller was traveling in a vehicle behind the suspect’s vehicle, and that the caller’s daughter had been kidnapped and was being held at gunpoint in the vehicle.

Meanwhile, a Berlin Police officer observed the suspect vehicle at Friendship Rd. off of Route 50, and with the help of the pursuing sheriff’s deputies initiated a traffic stop. The male driver, identified as Walter Shane Ahrens, 22, of Berlin, was removed from the vehicle. It was determined the female victim had not been held against her will, nor had she been kidnapped.

However, a subsequent search of the vehicle turned up controlled dangerous substance as well as paraphernalia. Last week in District Court, Ahrens pleaded guilty to possession and was fined $300. The other charges against him were not prosecuted.

Charges Dropped In Bike Tirade

OCEAN CITY – A Pennsylvania man arrested on disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges in August after allegedly going on an expletive-laced tirade about Ocean City’s bicycle laws in front of a crowd on the Boardwalk had the charges against him dropped this week in District Court.

Around 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 12, a mounted OCPD officer stopped an unidentified man about riding a bicycle on the Boardwalk before 2 a.m. According to police, the man was cooperative and free leave, but when he said something to another man in his company about the ordinance, the other man, identified as Blake Anthony Gerhard, 19, of Phoenixville, Pa., allegedly yelled in a voice loud enough to be heard by the officer over 50 feet away, “[expletive deleted] your laws.” According to police reports, Gerhard continued to walk south on the Boardwalk and continued to shout the same expletive, which was heard by dozens of people who were now staring at him.

According to police reports, Gerhard appeared to be intoxicated and stumbled as he walked and continued to attract a crowd with his tirade. Eventually, OCPD officer detained Gerhard and told him to sit on the Boardwalk. However, while they were talking to Gerhard, the officers were distracted by heckling from people in the crowd, Gerhard allegedly got back to his feet and attempted to flee, but he was taken into custody.

When Gerhard fled police, he dropped his water bottle on the Boardwalk, and when the officer retrieved it, they discovered it contained an alcoholic beverage believed to be whisky. Gerhard was eventually charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, a noise ordinance and possession of alcohol by a minor. This week in District Court, however, the charges against Gerhard were nolle prossed, or not prosecuted.

Truck Fire Cause Explored

BERLIN – Worcester County Fire Marshal’s officials this week are exploring the cause of a fire that consumed a pick-up truck in Berlin last Saturday.

Around 2 p.m. last Saturday, Berlin Volunteer Fire Department firefighters responded to a reported vehicle fire on Bowen Circle in Berlin. The vehicle’s owner reported the fire. First-arriving units reported fire coming from the engine and passenger compartments. Firefighters quickly brought the fire under control, but the pick-up truck appears to be a total loss. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Emergency Alert Test Tomorrow

BERLIN – Tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 4, Worcester County residents will again be hearing the emergency alert signals from their local fire sirens. Worcester County has taken this step to provide additional means to warn the surrounding communities of imminent danger and the need to tune to either radio, television or the internet for information in the event of emergencies.

Sirens are tested the first Saturday of each month. Residents will hear a steady alert tone sound at 10 a.m. for approximately one minute. Since the end of the Cold War, most serious threats to areas of the Eastern Shore have been weather related, and the emergency alert sirens have gone unused.

However, emergency alert sirens continue to be employed in tornado-prone areas of the country where they are used to warn residents that a tornado has been spotted and to take cover.