A Baltimore County police officer was severely beaten last night and his service pistol was stolen after he made what was believed to be a routine traffic stop on a rural road east of Interstate 83 near Maryland Line, police said.
The incident triggered a manhunt in two states -- Maryland and Pennsylvania -- for two men in a beige Chevrolet Monte Carlo, reported stolen in Baltimore and bearing Maryland dealer's tags.
Police said they believed the car headed north on I-83 across the nearby Pennsylvania line.
Baltimore County police were joined in the search by officers from Harford County and Baltimore as well as state troopers from both Maryland and Pennsylvania. Three helicopters also took part.
According to police, Officer Darryl J. Chesney, 26, a five-year veteran of the Baltimore County force, had ordered the driver of the beige car to pull over on a deserted and icy Harris Mill Road near Dunk Freeland Road at 8:24 p.m.
The area is extremely isolated and dark -- the nearest house is a half-mile away -- and is surrounded by thick woods.
Two men were in the car, said Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a county police spokesman.
Officer Chesney used his squad car radio to report his location and the Maryland tag number of the vehicle he had stopped -- 1A47651. Police later learned that the car had been stolen from a dealer in the 6200 block of Belair Road in Baltimore, but Officer Chesney was not aware of the fact, Sergeant Doarnberger said.
What happened next is unclear, but the men apparently beat Officer Chesney in the head with a blunt object, possibly his flashlight, and then stole his 9mm semiautomatic pistol.
Officer Chesney was able to push an emergency button located on his portable police radio, which alerted fellow officers that he was in trouble.
The distress message went to the police communications center in Towson, which then broadcast to every precinct that "Unit 234 is in emergency status."
A woman who drove by the scene saw Officer Chesney hanging halfway out of his cruiser, its engine still running and emergency lights flashing. The woman went to her home nearby, returning with her husband, and the couple comforted the wounded officer, Sergeant Doarnberger said.
An ambulance from the Hereford Volunteer Fire Company was the first emergency vehicle to arrive. By the time police officers responded, Officer Chesney was lying on the ground outside his squad car.
Firefighters were bandaging his head, which was so bloody that first reports were that he had been shot.
Officer Chesney, who lives with his wife in Hampstead, Carroll County, was flown by MedEvac helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he was reported in serious but stable condition early this morning.
Police received several reports of sightings of a beige Monte Carlo in the hours after the beating. One put it at the nearby Maryland Line Inn on York Road, where witnesses told police that a man got out of such a car and used an outdoor pay phone.
Police technicians dusted the telephone for fingerprints.
Another reported sighting was at Falls Road and Black Rock Road, west of the assault scene, but police were not able to confirm it.
The hunted men were both described as white men, one standing about 5 foot 6 and with blond hair, and the other man taller. Officer Chesney told investigators last night that they spoke with New York or Boston accents.