Police scour Arundel for armed fugitive Canadian soldier flees, another held in U.S. 50 shootout

June 08, 1991|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Anne Arundel Bureau of The Sun

Authorities continued to search a sparsely populated area along U.S. 50 in Anne Arundel County last night for a 21-year-old Canadian soldier armed with a revolver who, along with a companion, allegedly fired on two state troopers Thursday night.

Police said the fugitive, Pvt. Eric William Schumacher, is wanted in Toronto for allegedly shooting a police constable. They described the muscular 5-foot-10-inch, 170-pounder as having "mercenary-like" tendencies and being extremely dangerous.

"Local residents need to be concerned and exercise greater caution than normal," said Capt. Jesse Graybill, commander of the state police emergency operations team. "We don't feel he is an undue threat, but we want people to be cautious."

Private Schumacher and his companion, Pvt. Donald Roger Nelson, who was wounded and surrendered to Maryland troopers yesterday morning, are both wanted by Canadian authorities in connection with the police shooting.

They were believed to have been hitchhiking on westbound U.S. a quarter mile east of the Davidsonville Road exit when they were spotted by Trooper Kim Bowman.

Trooper Bowman, a 22-year-old with two years' police experience, pulled onto the shoulder of the road and asked the men for identification. She radioed the information into the

Annapolis barracks shortly before 10:30 p.m., said Chuck Jackson, a state police spokesman.

A police computer check showed that both men were wanted -- without specifying why -- and another trooper, Kim Brooks, 27 -- was dispatched to the scene as a backup, Mr. Jackson said.

Upon Trooper Brooks' arrival, the two troopers ordered both men to spread-eagle face down on a police cruiser and began to search them for weapons.

When Trooper Brooks yelled out that she had found a gun in Private Schumacher's waistband, Private Nelson pulled his own handgun on Trooper Bowman, according to Mr. Jackson.

Police said Trooper Brooks alertly threw Private Schumacher into the other man and both troopers retreated to cover behind a police cruiser.

An exchange of gunfire involving all four people quickly took place. One bullet struck Trooper Bowman, tearing through her shirt and scraping her leather gun belt before lodging harmlessly in her handcuff pouch. Another bullet shattered the rear window of one of the state police cruisers.

The two men ran into the woods north of U.S. 50.

Police set up roadblocks, cutting off several miles of westbound U.S. 50 until midafternoon yesterday. This caused westbound traffic to be rerouted along U.S. 97 and Route 3 -- a 10-mile detour -- as well as some delays for eastbound and beachbound travelers who slowed down to watch the police and television camera crews lining the highway median.

Private Nelson emerged from the woods at U.S. 50 near the Davidsonville off-ramp at 7:30 a.m. and was immediately captured by waiting police officers. He had a gunshot wound to the right knee and was taken to Anne Arundel General Hospital in Annapolis, where he was listed in stable condition last night after surgery.

Police said Private Nelson was found unarmed. They have yet to recover the pistol he allegedly used against the troopers.

Yesterday's manhunt focused on a 5-square-mile area bordered by Davidsonville Road, U.S. 50, Rutland Road and Rossback Road. More than 100 police officers, using five helicopters and a dozen dogs, combed the forest, gullies and farm fields.

Police said they were confident that Private Schumacher was trapped within police roadblocks and that they would find him soon. Late yesterday, officers began checking door to door in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Captain Graybill said Private Nelson cooperated with police investigators. Among other things, he told them that Private Schumacher was injured in the fracas with police -- but searchers found no evidence yesterday to confirm it, Captain Graybill said.

At one point in the daylong search, one of the dogs picked up what may have been Private Schumacher's scent in the woods. Searchers also found an embankment that someone appeared to have slid down, but police said the trail petered out.

Private Schumacher was last seen wearing an olive-drab top and blue jeans. Toronto police said he was armed with a .357-caliber Magnum handgun, 50 rounds of ammunition and two speed loaders.

Police filed attempted murder, conspiracy and handgun charges against the two men in District Court in Annapolis yesterday. They said they did not know how the two fugitives had ended up in Maryland.

The two troopers involved in the shooting were off duty yesterday after meeting with investigators and receiving counseling. Both troopers were badly shaken, according to Sgt. Michael S. Panos, acting commander of the Annapolis barracks.

"They did a great job, in my opinion," said Capt. Byron Hubble, troop commander for the Baltimore region. "Those gals, from what I can gather, really did a good job preventing themselves from getting hurt."

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