Alert Off-duty Trooper Ends Manhunt For Fugitive

The Top Stories Of 1991

December 29, 1991|By Jay Apperson

For 41 hours following a shootout with state troopers on U.S. 50 near the Davidsonville Road exit, Pvt. Eric William Schumacher, 21 and miles from home, managed to elude the manhunt.

But the chase for the armed fugitive ended June 8, shortly after Schumacher, one of two Canadian soldiers wanted in the shooting of a constable in Toronto, wandered onto a quiet suburban street in Millersville. There, an off-duty state trooper outside doing yard work drew his 9mm Beretta handgunand arrested Schumacher.

The fugitive's apprehension ended a manhunt involving more than 100 police officers, five helicopters and a dozen dogs, all combing the forest, gullies and fields in a 5-square-mile area bordered by Davidsonville Road, U.S. 50, Rutland Road and Rossback Road. Residents ofthe rural area had been warned to lock their doors and windows.

The incident began about 10:30 p.m. June 6, when Trooper Kimberly Bowman, 22, of the Annapolis Barracks, stopped two men hitchhiking on U.S. 50. When a computer check of their identification showed one was wanted in Canada, Bowman radioed for a backup. Trooper Kimberly Brooks,27, also of the Annapolis barracks, arrived and the troopers attempted to arrest the pair.

As Brooks was conducting a pat-down of one of the men, she found a revolver in the waistband of his pants. Police said Brooks yelled when she found a gun on Schumacher, prompting Nelson to pull his gun on Bowman.

During the shootout, one bullet pierced Bowman's uniform shirt, struck a belt and embedded itself in her handcuff case. A second shot shattered the rear window of a police car as the officers returned the fire. Neither trooper was injured.

Schumacher's traveling companion, Pvt. Donald Roger Nelson, 20, wasshot in the knee by one of the troopers. He was arrested by police the following morning along the highway.

The two had been on the lam for six days, since being charged in the shooting of a police officer near Toronto's SkyDome.

Police shootings are rare in Canada andthe subsequent manhunt for the two AWOL soldiers and the shootout onU.S. 50 drew widespread news coverage in Canada. In fact, reporters from Canadian newspapers and radio and television networks were in Annapolis in November for Schumacher's scheduled trial on charges of attempted murder.

That trial never took place, however. After the defense case was dealt a crippling blow -- a judge ruled the Toronto constable would be allowed to testify -- Schumacher pleaded guilty to assault with intent to murder and a handgun violation. He faces up to 50 years at his sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 20. His attorney, Timothy D. Murnane, will ask the judge to give his client five to eight years, in accordance with non-binding guidelines.

Nelson's trial oncharges including attempted murder is scheduled for Jan. 21

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