Policeman shoots, kills O.C. suspect Officials believe man murdered motel guest

September 01, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer Staff writers Joe Nawrozki and Alisa Samuels contributed to this article.

OCEAN CITY -- In a rare outbreak of deadly violence, a suspect in the robbery and killing of a guest at the Stowaway Motel was shot to death early yesterday by an Ocean City police officer.

Authorities said Officer Joseph Brown, patrolling the Boardwalk on horseback, witnessed what he thought was a robbery in an outside corridor of the motel at 22nd Street, heard a shot, and confronted a shotgun-wielding suspect identified as John William Taylor of Salisbury.

Mr. Taylor, 38, was pointing a 12-gauge, sawed-off shotgun at Officer Brown when the policeman fired his semiautomatic service pistol and fatally wounded the suspect near the Stowaway's swimming pool, police said.

Moments later, the apparent robbery victim, Joseph Lambert, 26, a motel guest from Centreville, Va., was found lying dead from a chest wound in a pool of blood in the corridor, police said.

The fatal shooting by the officer is believed to be the first such incident in the history of the Ocean City Police Department, which dates to the 1930s. There has been only one other homicide in the resort in the past four years -- a woman killed in January as a result of a domestic dispute, police said.

"The incident is very unusual," said Police Chief David C. Massey. "It's absolutely an isolated incident. It's very rare that it happens here."

Vacationers staying at the Stowaway and the Surf and Sands Motel, next door at the Boardwalk and 23rd Street, expressed shock at the incident.

Ron Nonnemacher, a plumber from Kutztown, Pa., staying with 35 family members at the Surf and Sands, their usual summer vacation spot, said, "Do you want to wake up and find out a double homicide happened next door? I was glad to hear the police officer was nearby when the shooting occurred. I'm glad he got the man if he was going around robbing people."

Alison Edwards and a friend, who are staying at the Stowaway with their children, went to bed shortly before the shootings. "We heard a boom. It sounded like a car backfired," she said. "We didn't think anything of it and went back to sleep."

Ms. Edwards, a Laurel manicurist, said she was surprised to wake up yesterday morning and hear about the homicides. "I thought, 'No way,' " she said. "We're on vacation. You don't expect anything like that to happen."

The 2:40 a.m. shootings remained under investigation by police and the Worcester County state's attorney, and Officer Brown -- a full-time policeman on the force for two years -- was placed on routine administrative leave pending the investigation.

Police said they found a bandanna apparently used as a mask and $150 believed to have been taken from Mr. Lambert, the motel guest who was accosted as he stepped out of his room.

By afternoon, traces of the violence were gone and the Boardwalk was back to business as usual.

Paul Davison, a clerk at Paradise Beachwear Outlet on the Boardwalk at 22nd, said customers talked about the homicides earlier but discussion tapered off as the day wore on. "A lot of people said they heard the noises but didn't know what was going on," he said.

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