Cops And Courts – August 31, 2018

Cops And Courts – August 31, 2018

Struck Wife With Vehicle

OCEAN CITY — A Pennsylvania man was arrested on first-degree charges last weekend after allegedly attempting to run over his wife with a vehicle in the downtown area during a domestic dispute.

Around 9:30 p.m. last Sunday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer responded to a reported domestic assault in progress on Baltimore Avenue. Upon arrival, the OCPD officer met with a witness who said both parties had left the area. During that time, the officer observed a vehicle the witness said was involved in the incident drive past his location at least two times.

The officer flagged down the vehicle and it turned into a downtown motel parking lot near the Inlet. The officer made contact with the female driver who appeared to be flustered and upset, according to police reports. The victim told police she had gotten into the verbal argument with her legal husband, later identified as Anthony Velasquez, 33, of Harrisburg, Pa., and that Velasquez was attempting to leave her and take all her belongings.

The victim told police she was standing in front of the vehicle when Velasquez started to drive forward in an attempt to leave. The victim said Velasquez accelerated toward her, causing her to jump on the hood of the moving vehicle in order to avoid being hit by it. According to police reports, the victim said Velasquez continued to accelerate at a high rate of speed for about 50 feet as she clung to the hood.

The victim told police Velasquez then slammed on the brakes, which tossed her off the vehicle. The victim said she and Velasquez then got into a shoving match and he threw all of her belongings into the parking lot as multiple witnesses in the area attempted to break up the fight. When Velasquez heard someone say they were going to call the police, he fled the area on foot. The victim then drove around looking for Velasquez when the police arrived. Velasquez was located a short time later and was detained.

OCPD officers observed the victim to have multiple superficial injuries to her body including scrapes and abrasions on her arms, feet and forehead, but she refused any medical treatment at the scene. The officers also observed the vehicle to have multiple scratches on the hood and sides along with fresh blood on the hood. In addition, one of the windshield wipers had been ripped off and was in the passenger seat.

When questioned, Velasquez told police he had been in an argument with the victim earlier, but they had gone their separate ways. He told police he had nothing to do with the incident involving the vehicle. OCPD officers Velasquez had a cut on the back of his head and he reportedly told police he had hit his head on a rock earlier, which is why there was blood on the hood of the vehicle.

OCPD officers further interviewed the victim, who had a cut with stitches in her lip. The victim told police that cut was from an incident about two weeks earlier when Velasquez had assaulted her. A background check revealed there was an active protective order against Velasquez in Pennsylvania prohibiting him from having any contact with the victim. Based on the evidence and testimony, Velasquez was arrested and charged with first-degree assault and other


Handgun Recovered

OCEAN CITY — A Pennsylvania man was arrested last weekend after allegedly waiving a loaded handgun around on a downtown street while intoxicated.

Around 12:53 a.m. last Friday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers were dispatched to the area of 9th Street and Dayton Lane in reference to a man with a handgun. The 911 caller told dispatchers the man was intoxicated and refused to leave their residence and provided a description of the suspect.

Upon arrival, OCPD officers observed the suspect, later identified as George Warden, 41, of Tarentum, Pa., crouched behind a vehicle in a parking lot. According to police reports, Warden appeared to be taking his clothes off. When Warden observed the officers, he began walking toward them, according to police reports.

Warden was detained without further incident and was visibly intoxicated, according to police reports. He reportedly had saliva all over his face and the clothes he still had on were soiled. According to police reports, Warden told the officers, “I got into a fight with a wave in the ocean and lost.”

OCPD officers went over to the area where Warden had been seen shedding his clothes and found a soiled pair of jeans with the grip of a handgun sticking out of the pocket. The weapon was identified as a .38-caliber handgun with a fully-loaded magazine. A witness in the area told police Warden had been waving the gun around and had racked the slide. He was arrested for possession of a handgun and other charges.


Malicious Destruction Arrest

OCEAN CITY — A Bel Air, Md. man was arrested on assault and malicious destruction of property charges last weekend after allegedly going berserk at an uptown condo building.

Around 4 a.m. last Saturday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer was dispatched to a condo building at 82nd Street for a reported domestic dispute. Upon arrival, the officer found the housing unit for a fire extinguisher smashed to pieces in a common hallway. The officer went to the unit in question and found the suspect, later identified as Spencer Panuska, 24, of Bel Air, being restrained on the floor by another man. The officer observed blood on the walls of the unit and damage to the front entry door and a closet door.

Once Panuska calmed down, the officer was able to speak with three men in the unit who were detaining him. The three men told police they had gotten into an argument with Panuska about something that had happened earlier at a bar and the verbal argument escalated to a physical confrontation. The three victims told police Panuska snapped and purposely started to windmill punch them and “spaz out.”

The victim each had various scratches, red marks and abrasions where they had reportedly been kicked, punched and pushed by Panuska. One of the men described Panuska as intentionally destroying everything in the apartment and that he was so violent and out of control that they knew they had to secure him before he broke anything else.

The damage to the unit was estimated at $700, while the damage to the first extinguisher housing was estimated at $500. The victims told police they were walking up the stairs to the hallway when Panuska “started going crazy” and punched the fire extinguisher housing.

When questioned, Panuska told police “it was just me being stupid,” and “I’m so sorry, it was just a misunderstanding,” according to police reports. When asked how all of the damage could be the result of a misunderstanding, Panuska reportedly replied, “I don’t know.” Panuska was ultimately charged with multiple counts of assault and malicious destruction of property.


Convenience Store Rampage

OCEAN CITY — A Berlin man was arrested on assault and intoxicated endangerment charges last weekend after allegedly threatening people inside a downtown convenience store with wine bottles swung over his head.

Around 3 a.m. last Sunday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) were dispatched to a convenience store at North Division Street when a suspect later identified as Travis Taylor, 38, of Berlin, stumbled up to the patrol vehicle and told police he was afraid males inside the store were going to hurt him. Taylor reportedly told police that’s why he did what he did inside the store, before leaving the area on foot.

As the officer was getting out of his patrol vehicle, patrons from inside the store came out and told police Taylor had been running around with glass wine bottles over his head and threatening to hit people in the store. The store clerk told police Taylor had come behind the counter to an area for employees only while swinging the bottles.

Taylor had left the scene, but officers observed him running between buildings in the area of Wilmington Lane. He was ultimately detained, but not before launching into an expletive-laced tirade against the officers that echoed off downtown buildings, according to police reports.

When officers told Taylor to quiet down and stop yelling, he assumed a fighting stance and threatened to punch officers in the mouth, according to police reports. When police attempted to handcuff Taylor, he grabbed the officer’s fingers and refused to let go. Taylor tried kicked backward donkey-style but his first kick did not strike any officer. However, a second donkey-style kick hit an OCPD officer in the crotch, according to police reports. Taylor was charged with multiple counts of assault and intoxicated endangerment.


Combative DUI Arrest

OCEAN CITY — A Selbyville woman was arrested on charges of assaulting police officers after an alleged drunk-driving incident last weekend.

Around 1:30 a.m. last Saturday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers patrolling in the area of 6th Street and Edgewater Avenue observed a vehicle strike a curb and drive over the sidewalk. The driver, later identified as Tarah Shortt, 26, of Selbyville, then went south the wrong way on the one-way Edgewater Avenue.

According to police reports, the officers observed Shortt pull into a parking space facing the wrong direction and then get out of the vehicle and fall into the roadway, injuring her knee in the process. Shortt exhibited signs of intoxication and admitted to consuming alcoholic beverages prior to driving. Shortt reportedly told police she had left a downtown bar and was trying to drive back to Selbyville but was confused about her whereabouts.

Shortt was administered a battery of field sobriety tests which she did not complete to the officers’ satisfaction. According to police reports, a video of the interaction showed Shortt getting into the back of a police patrol car of her own free will, which would become important later. Shortt was transported to the Public Safety Building and she was uncooperative, used foul language and was generally abusive and belligerent, according to police reports.

Shortt asked officers at least 15 times why she was under arrest and failed to verbally identify herself. When asked where she lived, Shortt told the officers “guess,” according to police reports. She then went on a tirade belittling the officers and failing to cooperate during the booking process. She did agree to submit to a breath test, but could not complete it after three times and it went in the books as a refusal.

At the Public Safety Building, Shortt alleged the arresting officer had assaulted her and injured her knee, prompting further police investigation. Shortt alleged her knee was injured when the officers forced her into the patrol vehicle, which was proven false on two counts. For one, she injured her knee when she fell out of the vehicle, and two, the video of the arrest showed her getting into the patrol car on her own free will.

Shortt also requested emergency medical services to evaluate her for breathing problems, and when three Ocean City EMS personnel arrived, she reportedly said “I just wasted your time.” She then refused any medical attention or transport to the hospital.

When OCPD officers were attempting to move Shortt to a holding cell, she went limp and fell to the floor, according to police reports. When officers attempted to pick her up, she shoved one custody officer causing the officer to fall to the floor. When officers attempted again to get Shortt up, she went limp again and fell to the floor and twisted her body, squeezing one officer’s foot between her legs in the process.

According to police report, Shortt again asked for a supervisor and complained she had been assaulted by officers again. She was ultimately dragged to a holding cell. Shortt was charged with assault, making a false statement to police and multiple traffic offenses related to DUI.


Seatbelt Stop Then Arrests

OCEAN CITY — Two Delaware residents were arrested on multiple charges including theft and drug possession after a routine seatbelt traffic stop last week.

Around 11:30 p.m. last Thursday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer patrolling in the area of 30th Street and Baltimore Avenue observed a vehicle with both the driver and passenger not wearing seatbelts. The officer pulled the vehicle over and made contact with the occupants, including Paul Geist, 39, of New Castle, and Erica Sullenberger, 30, of Wilmington.

Geist was driving and when asked for his license, he reportedly told the officers he did not have a license and his driving privileges were suspended in Delaware. For her part, Sullenberger did not present a license, but provided her name and date of birth verbally. Ocean City Communications confirmed Sullenberger was wanted in Delaware on an outstanding warrant and she was taken into custody. Geist was arrested for driving without a license and driving on a suspended license. It was also determined the vehicle did not belong to Geist or Sullenberger.

The owner walked to the scene and gave permission to the officers to enter and park the vehicle. A search of the vehicle turned up wax bags used for packaging heroin. Under the seat, officers located a hypodermic needle, a jagged glass pipe with burnt residue and more empty wax bags.

The vehicle’s owner told police her credit card and cell phone were in the vehicle during the time it was in the possession of Geist and Sullenberger. The cell phone included text messages from the suspects asking for directions to a known open-air drug market. In addition, the vehicle owner’s credit card included an ATM withdraw of over $100, which occurred with the vehicle was in the possession of Geist and Sullenberger.