Fire chief faces assault charge

September 27, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

The chief of the Savage Volunteer Fire Company has been charged with assault and disturbing the peace following a confrontation in which he allegedly threatened a firefighter after a community meeting Tuesday.

Ernest W. Foster, 44, of the 8900 block of Baltimore St., was named in a complaint filed by professional firefighter Andrew T. Lester in Howard County District Court. A trial date has not been set.

"The only thing I can say is that I haven't done anything wrong," Mr. Foster said. "I'm surprised that any charges have been filed." He has been chief of the volunteer company on and off for eight years.

Mr. Lester said in the complaint that Mr. Foster confronted him over the "media circus" surrounding the second arrest of a former volunteer paramedic and firefighter.

Mr. Lester serves as spokesman of the county Professional Firefighters Association, an organization that represents Howard's career firemen.

Following the Sept. 4 arrest of the volunteer, James Scott Botschen, who was charged with rape, Mr. Lester issued a statement saying it was "unexcusable" that the company permitted him to remain with the organization after Mr. Botschen had been convicted of assault last January.

Mr. Lester said he was talking with another firefighter, Chris Shimer, at the fire station when Mr. Foster approached them at about 9:30 p.m.

"Mr. Foster approached and said: 'I just want you to know and tell you to your face [that] I don't want you here, and if it was up to me, I would kick [you both] out. . . . We didn't appreciate the media circus.' "

During the confrontation, Mr. Lester told the chief that they had nothing to discuss and attempted to walk away from Mr. Foster, the complaint says.

"[The chief] then aggressively charged toward me with fists bared," Mr. Lester said in the complaint.

The confrontation ended when Alan Grimes, president of the fire company, dragged Mr. Foster away in a "bear hug," the complaint says. Mr. Lester said that he did not attempt to strike the chief.

The dispute occurred after a public meeting at the fire station in which Savage residents discussed a series of crimes in the community, including the Sept. 8 carjacking that killed research chemist Pam Basu.

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