Fatal shootings in Ocean City hot topic at resort's State Fair booth

September 05, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Ocean City officials staffing a booth at the Maryland State Fair have found themselves fielding more serious questions than just beach restoration and room accommodations this week.

Fairgoers, it seems, want to know more about a rare outbreak of deadly violence at the resort Monday that claimed the lives of two men, the victim and the apparent assailant.

"People are curious about it," said Mary Tawney, an administrator for the Ocean City Hotel-Motel Restaurant Association Inc., which is staffing the booth. "They want to know what happened."

Early Monday, Darrell James Lambert, 26, of Centreville, Va., was shot and killed as he stepped out of his room at the Stowaway Motel, 22nd Street and the Boardwalk.

His apparent assailant, John William Taylor, 38, of Salisbury, was fatally shot minutes later by Officer Joseph Brown, who heard what he thought was a robbery while patrolling the Boardwalk on horseback, authorities said.

Mr. Taylor pointed his shotgun at the officer, who then fired his semiautomatic service pistol. Officer Brown has been placed on routine administrative leave until an investigation of the shooting is complete.

"People are shocked by it," said Martha O. Clements, an Ocean City tourism spokeswoman. "It's the biggest thing they're asking about. It's just unusual for Ocean City.

"People think of us as wonderful, magic place. It's a hard thing to believe. It's disconcerting."

Police Chief David C. Massey has said the violence was isolated. The fatal shooting by the officer is believed to be the first in the department's history.

Neither Ocean City police nor the Worcester County state's attorney's office will discuss other aspects of the shootings until an investigation is completed.

Authorities think Mr. Taylor, wielding a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun, robbed and killed Mr. Lambert as the victim stepped out of his motel room into a corridor. Police said it was a chance encounter.

Ellen Perry, Mr. Taylor's girlfriend, said her boyfriend didn't know Mr. Lambert. She said she had no idea what might have provoked Mr. Taylor.

"John had a problem with alcohol," she said. "I believe he was drunk out of his mind when the incident occurred."

Earlier Monday evening, Mr. Taylor broke into a Bethany Beach, Del., town house and attempted to rob an Annapolis couple at gunpoint, authorities there said.

A scuffle ensued between the men, and the woman called 911. Her husband pushed the robber out the door and Mr. Taylor escaped, Sgt. George Steele said. The couple was not harmed.

Mr. Taylor was paroled from the Poplar Hill Pre-Release Center in April 1991, after serving part of a 25-year sentence for assault, burglary and armed robbery, said Leonard A. Sipes, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Ms. Perry described her boyfriend as a "soft-spoken, polite man who wouldn't hurt a fly. He's had a rough life. It's not an excuse for what he did. He was dealt a bad hand."

Mr. Lambert, a truck driver for the Virginia Highway Commission, was vacationing in Ocean City with friends when he was killed, said his aunt, Margaret Anderson, of Centreville.

Ms. Anderson said Mr. Lambert visited Ocean City each year and always stayed at the Stowaway Motel. "He was a happy-go-lucky type of person," she said. "He had a good personality." She declined to comment on the circumstances of his death.

Mr. Lambert was buried Thursday in Stonewall Memory Gardens in Manassas, Va.

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