Cops & Courts – August 26, 2022

Abandoned Hotel Break-In

OCEAN CITY — Two Riva, Md. men were arrested last weekend after allegedly entering an abandoned Boardwalk hotel at 13th Street and kicking in doors and smashing windows.

Around 10:55 p.m. last Friday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to the area of the old Phillips Beach Plaza Hotel at 13th Street and the Boardwalk for a reported breaking and entering. The complainant advised Ocean City Communications two males walked onto the property at the Beach Plaza Hotel, which is a condemned building with a fence around the perimeter of the property, according to police reports.

The complainant advised Ocean City Communications loud noises could be heard coming from the building. OCPD officers interviewed witnesses on the Boardwalk in the area who advised seeing the two suspects, later identified as Boone Gervase, 19, of Riva, Md., and Joseph Smelgus, 19, also of Riva, go up to the second floor of the abandoned hotel.

While officers were speaking with witnesses, they observed the two suspects leaving the property. When Gervase and Smelgus saw the officers, they took off running across Baltimore Avenue and into traffic, causing vehicles to brake and slow down, according to police reports.

OCPD officers chased Gervase and Smelgus and were eventually able to detain them in the area of 14th Street with the assistance of other responding officers. According to police reports, Gervase had cuts on his hands and on his feet, but was not wearing any shoes. Gervase reportedly told officers he had been wearing Crocs-style shoes, but they were not on his person. Smelgus was wearing Vans shoes at the time he was detained, according to police reports.

OCPD officers went back to the abandoned hotel and went to the second floor where they observed a two-panel window shattered with glass all over the floor, according to police reports. The officers also reportedly observed a hotel door had been kicked in with fresh footprints on it.

The officers observed the footprints on the door and footprints leading away from where the glass window had been shattered included both Vans and Crocs footprints. Based on the evidence and witness testimony, both Gervase and Smelgus were arrested and charged with theft, malicious destruction of property and trespassing.


Stolen Vehicle Hit-And-Run

OCEAN CITY — A Baltimore man was arrested for motor vehicle theft and other charges last weekend after allegedly swiping his friend’s car and backing into another vehicle at a downtown motel parking lot.

Around 9:30 p.m. last Friday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to a motel parking lot at 19th Street for a reported hit-and-run collision. OCPD officers met with a motel manager who advised he had been told by a security guard on the premises his vehicle in the parking lot had been hit and the driver left the scene.

The security guard reportedly advised the motel manager the other vehicle had backed into his vehicle. The security guard advised a white Lexus driven by Preston Gallant, 19, of Baltimore, had struck the manager’s pickup truck while backing up and drove off. The security guard was able to get a picture of the vehicle’s license plate before it drove away, according to police reports.

The manager and security guard went to the motel room on the third floor where they knew Gallant to be staying. While they were approaching the room, the manager and security guard observed Gallant run down the stairs and take a bicycle that did not belong to him from an adjacent motel parking lot and ride north on Washington Lane, according to police reports.

The vehicle’s owner advised officers where he had parked his vehicle but it was not in the space he indicated, nor was it anywhere on the parking lot. The vehicle’s owner was becoming increasingly irate and yelling profanities, according to police reports.

When advised Gallant had taken his vehicle, backed into a truck and then fled on a stolen bicycle, the vehicle’s owner reportedly told police “sounds like him.” The vehicle’s owner was a friend of Gallant, who did not have permission to take the Lexus, according to police reports.

Around 11 p.m. the same night, OCPD officers located Gallant walking on Philadelphia Avenue near 14th Street. Gallant told the officers he did not ditch his friend’s car, and when told it could not be found and that it had been reported as stolen, Gallant offered to show police where he had parked it.

When asked about the bicycle, Gallant reportedly told police he had not stolen it, but rather borrowed it because it was unlocked. He reportedly told police he stashed by bicycle between two dumpsters and that he left the Lexus in a parking space near the hotel.

Gallant could not tell officers exactly where he left the vehicle. He was arrested and charged with motor vehicle theft and other counts. He was in possession of a fake driver’s license, which he admitted he used to purchase alcohol and other things.


Handgun Found In Vehicle

OCEAN CITY — A Philadelphia man was arrested last week after a handgun was found in his vehicle following a routine traffic stop.

Around 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer patrolling in the downtown area conducted a traffic stop in the area of 36th Street and Coastal Highway. The officer approached the vehicle and its driver, identified as Miguel Ruiz, 30, of Philadelphia, and his female passenger and detected an odor of marijuana coming from the passenger compartment, according to police reports.

OCPD officers determined through the investigation there was a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle, according to police reports. During a search incident to the stop, OCPD officers located on the floor of the back seat behind the driver’s seat a handgun with a 14-inch barrel in a gun case.

OCPD officers determined the handgun was considered a regulated firearm in Maryland and Ruiz did not possess a wear and carry permit in the state. When questioned, Ruiz reportedly told officer he had brought the handgun to Ocean City because his home had recently been broken into and other weapons he owned had been stolen. He was ultimately arrested and charged with wearing and carrying a handgun on his person and transporting a handgun on public roads.


Spat Leads To Weapons Arrest

OCEAN CITY — A Buffalo, N.Y. man was arrested last week after first getting into a physical altercation with his wife in a downtown restaurant parking lot and later being found with a knife on his person.

Around 8:40 p.m. last Friday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer responded to the parking lot of a downtown bar at 28th Street for a reported domestic incident. OCPD officers arrived and located the couple involved in the altercation, including Kane Cameron, 26, of Buffalo, N.Y., and his wife, according to police reports.

Through the investigation, officers learned Cameron and his wife had been arguing about whether or not to eat at the establishment and the argument turned physical when the female victim grabbed a necklace from Cameron and broke it. Cameron reportedly became irate and grabbed the female victim, allegedly causing injuries including scratches on her arms and neck among others, according to police reports.

Based on the evidence and testimony, Cameron was arrested at that point for second-degree assault. During a search incident to his arrest, OCPD officers located on his person a spring-assisted knife classified as a martial arts weapon under the town’s code and additional weapons charges were added.


Passed Out In Wrong Unit

OCEAN CITY — A Pennsylvania man was arrested on burglary charges last weekend after being found asleep in a bed in a downtown residence.

Around 10:30 p.m. last Friday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to a residence on 12th Street and Baltimore Avenue for a reported breaking and entering. OCPD officers interviewed a female victim who advised an unknown male was asleep in a bed inside the residence, according to police reports.

OCPD officers interviewed other residents of the unit and reportedly none of them knew who the male sleeping in a bed was. OCPD officers woke the suspect, later identified as Christian Bishop, 27, of Waynesboro, Pa. Upon being awakened, Bishop was disoriented and slow to respond to commands, according to police reports, but he eventually exited the bed with assistance from OCPD officers.

Bishop told police he had no idea where he currently was or where he was supposed to be in Ocean City. He was arrested and charged with fourth-degree burglary. Residents of the unit advised officers the door had been locked and they were unsure how Bishop had entered.


Loaded Handgun Arrest

OCEAN CITY — A Delaware man was arrested last weekend after getting stopped for allegedly driving while impaired and later being found with a loaded handgun in his vehicle.

Around 11:35 p.m. last Saturday, Ocean City Communications issued a be on the lookout message about a vehicle that was reportedly driving on the shoulder and was swerving all over the road in Delaware on its way to Ocean City. The original caller provided a description of the vehicle and reported last seeing it in the area of 138th Street, according to police reports.

An Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer in the area of Pacific Avenue observed the suspect vehicle, driven by Terry Heinrich, 70, of Selbyville, Del. and conducted a traffic stop. Heinrich reportedly showed signs of impairment and later failed to perform field sobriety tests to the officer’s satisfaction.

Heinrich was taken into custody on suspicion of driving while impaired or intoxicated. Heinrich was transported to the Public Safety Building for processing. During an inventory of the vehicle’s contents prior to it being towed, OCPD officers located a loaded .38-caliber Ruger handgun in the glove box. Also located in the vehicle were two loaded magazines in the center console. In addition to the DWI charges, Heinrich was also charged with possessing and carrying a loaded handgun.