OCEAN CITY — The city-wide surveillance camera system, social media and an alert hotel employee are being credited this week with the apprehension of a suspect wanted in connection with a double stabbing on the Boardwalk last weekend.
Around 1:25 a.m. on Sunday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to a fight involving multiple people on the Boardwalk at Caroline Street. During the altercation, two individuals were stabbed. One victim, a 15-year-old juvenile, was taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center, while a second victim was flown to Shock Trauma. Both victims sustained serious injuries, but both were listed in stable condition as of mid-week.
The preliminary investigation revealed the suspect, identified as a light-skinned African-American male, stabbed the two victims. The suspect and at least one accomplice fled the scene on foot and were not located by police. Throughout the day on Sunday and into Monday, the OCPD posted surveillance still pictures of the suspect through various social media platforms, but finding the suspect remained a long shot.
However, detectives got a break on Monday when a resort hotel desk clerk saw the surveillance pictures of the suspect and remembered him checking into the lodging establishment. Working with OCPD detectives, the hotel employee was instrumental in identifying the suspect as Harold Rafael Nunez-Dominguez, 19, of Harrisburg, Pa., according to OCPD Deputy Communications Director Ashley Miller, who was just hired by the town this month.
“The hotel employee saw the social media post with the suspect’s photos from the City Watch surveillance,” she said. “The employee recognized the individual as a guest in their hotel and was able to recall their detailed check-in records to assist our officers. The attention of the employee and the hotel was beneficial for this investigation.”
By Monday, Nunez-Dominguez had been located back in his hometown in Harrisburg and was taken into custody without further incident. He has been charged with two counts of first- and second-degree assault as well as two counts of reckless endangerment and a warrant was issued for his arrest on Monday afternoon. As of mid-week, the suspect was still being held in Pennsylvania and was awaiting extradition to Worcester County.
OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro praised town officials for their increased investment in the City Watch surveillance system in recent years and its contribution to identifying the suspect.
“We would not have the photographs, video evidence and the ability to quickly identify the suspect without our City Watch program,” he said. “The investment in the town’s surveillance system is a key factor in solving this case.”
In addition to the City Watch photographs, detectives received multiple tips from citizens including the vigilant hotel employee credited with helping identify the suspect. Buzzuro praised the working relationship between the OCPD and the private sector.
“We work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association on ways to properly identify their guests,” he said. “With the visitors to our community changing weekly, the partnership of our residents and business community is invaluable to our department and our investigations.”
Ocean City Communications Director Jessica Waters also praised the public-private partnerships and the diligence of the hotel employee.
“The hotel employee was a key component of this investigation,” she said. “To be honest, without the City Watch program and without the hotel taking extra steps to identify their guests, all of which was done under the advice of the police department, finding this suspect would have been like finding a needle in a haystack. Along with the surveillance technology and the help of social media, our community played a huge role in solving this case.”