Attempted Murder Charges Filed; Cops Intentionally Struck By Vehicle, Shots Fired

OCEAN CITY — A Delaware man was arrested overnight and charged with attempted first-degree murder and other charges after intentionally striking two local law enforcement officers with his vehicle causing officers to fire their guns at him before he fled and was ultimately captured in the bay.

The Maryland State Police are investigating an overnight police-involved shooting in Ocean City that occurred after two local law enforcement officers were struck by a driver trying to run them down to avoid arrest. One of the officers struck is a supervisor with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and is assigned to the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team. The second officer struck is an Ocean City Police Department officer.

Both officers struck by the vehicle were transported to an area hospital where they were treated and released. The driver of the vehicle has been identified as Antonio Ambrosino, 18, of Seaford, Delaware. He has been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, attempted manslaughter, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

The passenger in Ambrosino’s vehicle has been identified as Arkad Espinal, 20, of Shillington, Pa. He was been charged with possession of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Neither suspect was hit when police fired their weapons at them as the vehicle in which they were riding struck the two officers. Both were awaiting initial appearances before a court commissioner on Sunday morning.

The preliminary investigation indicates just after 11 p.m. on Saturday, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputy working an assignment in Ocean City as part of the expanded police presence in the resort all weekend in anticipation of the arrival of hundreds if not thousands of vehicles related to the since-cancelled H2Oi car event in the resort pulled into the back parking lot of a shopping center between 33rd and 34th Streets on the ocean side of Coastal Highway. According to police reports, the deputy observed a Chevrolet Malibu parked in the lot with two men inside. The deputy notified police communications he would be checking on the vehicle and an OCPD patrol unit with three officers responded to assist.

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The preliminary investigation revealed the deputy and an OCPD officer approached the vehicle on opposite sides while two officers positioned themselves near the rear of the vehicle. As the deputy approached the vehicle, he observed the two suspects in the car weighing and bagging marijuana, according to police reports.

When the suspects saw the officers approaching, they immediately attempted to hide the marijuana in the car. The deputy gave commands to the suspects, but the commands were ignored and the driver, later identified as Ambrosino, started the car and put it in reverse.

The driver quickly accelerated and turned the vehicle to the right, striking the deputy. After striking the deputy, Ambrosino put the car into drive and accelerated forward. He then steered the vehicle to the left and drove directly at the OCPD officer, striking him as well.

The force of the impact catapulted the officer over the hood and windshield and onto the roof of the vehicle. The driver continued to accelerate away and the officer was thrown onto the hood of a vehicle parked nearby.

The preliminary investigation indicates the OCPD officer who was struck fired at the driver after being hit and another OCPD officer fired at Ambrosino as his vehicle was striking his fellow officer. Neither suspect was hit by rounds fired by the officers.

After fleeing the parking lot, the suspect’s vehicle ended up at a dead end on 41st Street and the bay. Police took the passenger, Espinal, into custody in the vehicle. Ambrosino jumped in the bay but was later arrested about eight blocks north of that location. During the investigation it was learned Ambrosino said during he would rather die than go to jail. Ambrosino’s vehicle has been impounded by Maryland State Police investigators and a search warrant is being obtained for the car.

The incident occurred during what can only be described as chaos in Ocean City on Saturday night caused by some members of a large group of H2Oi enthusiasts all weekend. The official H2Oi event scheduled for a campground on Route 50 west of Berlin was cancelled two weeks ago, but hundreds if not thousands of the tricked-out small car enthusiasts came to the resort area anyway.

It’s important to note the H2Oi event is not and never has been sanctioned by the town of Ocean City, but it is one local law enforcement officials clearly circle on their collective calendars as one of the most troublesome of the motor-related shoulder season events in the resort and this weekend was no different.

During an intense three-day strategic planning session last week, a recurring theme was how to eliminate or at least tone down the motorized special events. After Saturday’s incident, that debate will almost certainly be renewed in the coming weeks.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.