Wicomico Deputy Killed In Line Of Duty

Wicomico Deputy Killed In Line Of Duty
Glenn Hilliard

PITTSVILLE – The entire Lower Shore community on Monday is mourning the loss of a Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty on Sunday evening in Pittsville by a known armed and dangerous suspect wanted in several jurisdictions around the state.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputy Glenn Hilliard responded to the Talbot Street Apartments in Pittsville after getting a tip that fugitive Austin Davidson, 20, whose listed address is in Delmar, Md., was at the apartment complex. At first, Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputies did not locate Davidson, but Hilliard spotted him near the apartment complex and a brief foot pursuit ensued, according to police reports.

With Hilliard in pursuit, Davidson reportedly turned and fired a semi-automatic pistol at the deputy, striking him. Fellow deputies attempted to treat Hilliard at the scene, but he was transported to TidalHealth Peninsula Regional Hospital, where he was declared deceased. Hilliard, a 10-year veteran with the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department, also served with the Berlin Police Department and was a seasonal officer with the Ocean City Police Department in the past.

Davidson fled to a wooded area nearby and an extensive manhunt by multiple law enforcement agencies ensued, but he eventually surrendered to Maryland Natural Resources Police and Maryland State Police about two hours after the shooting when he exited a tree line near the apartment complex. The weapon was found nearby, according to police reports.

Davidson was wanted in multiple jurisdictions around the state including Worcester County, Somerset County and Baltimore City. In 2019, Davidson was arrested for the armed robbery of a McDonalds restaurant in Baltimore City, but was granted probation before judgment was placed on supervised probation for three years.

Davidson was arrested on second-degree assault and other charges in Worcester County in March, but failed to appear for a scheduled court appearance on May 18. On May 13, an arrest warrant was posted for Davidson in Somerset County for burglary, felony theft and other charges after an alleged incident in that jurisdiction.

After Sunday’s alleged fatal shooting of the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputy, Davidson is being held without bond. He has been charged with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and other charges. Davidson has a bail review hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing recalled Hilliard’s service to his department for five years. Hilliard was a University of Maryland Eastern Shore graduate and came to the Berlin Police Department after graduating from the police academy. He entered the Berlin Police Department as a lateral officer, also serving with the Crisfield Police Department at the same time.

“He really came into our agency running,” he said. “He was quickly an instructor and the field training officer for some of our other recent grads. He was a member of our SWAT team and was just really grounded in the profession.”

Downing said Hilliard was originally from New Jersey, but his wife and extended family were from the Berlin area.

“His family was really entrenched in the community,” he said. “There are a lot of people hurting from this. Those who knew him personally really saw the best in him. He was a better officer when he left for Wicomico and it was just a better opportunity. He was never running from anything. He always running to something, even on his last day.”

At midday on Monday, the Wicomico Sheriff’s Department, along with Gov. Larry Hogan and other law enforcement and Wicomico County officials held a press conference to outline the details of the incident as they are known, although the investigation is ongoing. Largely, however, the press conference was an indictment of sorts of the criminal justice system, which repeatedly allowed Davidson to remain on the streets despite numerous arrests. Hogan pointed to Davidson’s probation following the 2019 armed robbery in Baltimore.


Sheriff Mike Lewis is pictured with Gov. Larry Hogan, local law enforcement personnel and county leaders at a press conference Monday.

“Someone like this should not have been on the streets,” he said. “The fact this guy was out with no jail time after committing armed robbery is unacceptable. Today, we pray for his family and all of our law enforcement community.”

Wicomico County State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes vowed that will not be the case this time for Davidson.

“The case will be presented to the grand jury,” she said. “Many people came together last night. Many more will come together to see that justice is done in this case.”

Wicomico County Executive John Psota said the entire community was grieving over the loss of Hilliard.

“We grieve for the family of this deputy,” he said. “We grieve for the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department, and we grieve for this entire community. This is totally unacceptable. We’re going to focus on why we’re here today.”

An impassioned Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis held up a picture of Davidson during the press conference and called on the state’s judicial system for stronger sentences and incarceration for suspects.

“This is the man responsible,” he said. “He is just 20 years old. Had he been incarcerated and if we had appropriate sentences in Maryland, our deputy would still be alive. We have had our law enforcement family ripped apart. We haven’t had a deputy killed in the line of duty since 1969.”

Lewis provided more details of the incident during the press conference.

“The suspect stepped out of a wooded area and was taken into custody by the Natural Resources Police and the Maryland State Police” he said. “I’m so proud to have our Natural Resources Police working with us. They were on the front lines in this incident.”

Lewis said Davidson’s long pattern of criminal behavior was the issue, not stronger gun control laws.

“This is not a gun issue, it’s a behavioral issue,” he said. “He was granted probation before judgment for the armed robbery of a McDonalds in Baltimore City. When asked why he did it, he said ‘Because I can.’ Those were his words.”

Lewis during the press conference provided more details about the fatal shooting of one of his deputies on Sunday evening.

“He had a laser-sighted handgun and used it on a Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputy. The deputy clearly saw Davidson depart and deployed his taser, but Davidson turned and shot the deputy. He peacefully surrendered when he came out of the wood line.”

For his part, Hogan vowed to continue to wage the battle against increased crime across the state.

“There is no question crime across the state is out of control,” he said. “We talk about increased penalties, but yet this continues. It’s very frustrating. People talk about defunding the police, but we’re doing the opposite. We funded $500,000 in police initiatives. We’re going to keep backing them, but the judges and prosecutors have to do their job. I don’t know when it’s going to stop, but we’re going to do everything we can to make it stop.”

The press conference turned to a remembrance of Hilliard and his law enforcement service in Wicomico, Berlin and Ocean City.

“He was very special,” he said. “He was an incredibly effective deputy and law enforcement officer and he was particularly good at electronics. He was a jokester and always had a smile on his face. He was a beloved member of our family. His wife is an incredibly strong woman and he had a beautiful family. The pain is inescapable.”

Lewis said his department and the entire community will mourn the loss of Hilliard in the days to come.

“The days ahead will be challenging, but for now, we are mourning the loss of an incredible human being,” he said. “Deputy Glenn Hilliard was a son, a husband and a father to three beautiful children, a brother to those he worked with, and an exemplary public servant to the citizens of Wicomico County and to the state of Maryland.”

Lewis said his law enforcement organization was feeling the pain of the loss on Monday.

“As an organization, we are heartbroken over this senseless and tragic murder,” he said. “This loss exacts an enormous emotional toll on the sheriff’s office family, but we will do what is necessary and proper to honor Glenn and support those who knew and loved him.”

By Monday morning, Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro acknowledged the loss during a Police Commission meeting.

“I want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputy Glenn Hilliard,” he said. “He was killed in the line of duty last night, and he was a former Ocean City seasonal police officer. Our thoughts and prayers are with Wicomico County and their sheriff’s department as well.”

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.