Woman sues man who killed her son Target shooter with AK-47 hit swimmer in Harford quarry

February 11, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

Phillip Lee Frye was floating on an inner tube at an abandoned quarry in Harford County on a sunny Sunday in July 1990, when Richard Allen Creager began target practice with his new AK-47 rifle 400 yards away.

One of the bullets slammed into Mr. Frye's chest and killed him. Nine months later, Mr. Creager pleaded guilty in Harford County Circuit Court to reckless endangerment and was given a three-year suspended sentence.

Now Mr. Frye's mother, Patricia Joan Frye of the Rosedale area of Baltimore County, has filed a $1 million suit against Mr. Creager, charging him with negligence and liability. The action was filed Monday in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Reached at work yesterday, Mr. Creager, 34, said he hadn't seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

The July 22, 1990, shooting occurred at a former slate mine known as Razorback Quarry. Located near Whiteford, it is one of several abandoned quarries near the Pennsylvania line. Over the years, it has been the source of numerous complaints about target shooting, swimming and dumping, sheriff's deputies said.

Although there had been drownings there almost every summer, officials said, the death of Mr. Frye, 29, was the first one caused by the lethal mix of target shooters and swimmers.

According to the lawsuit, police and court accounts, Mr. Frye and about 10 other swimmers were at the quarry's southern end, while Mr. Creager and two other men stood on a plateau atop a cliff to the north. They were shooting at bottles and floating debris.

Mr. Creager had a Ruger .357-caliber revolver, a Ruger 44 Magnum revolver, a Ruger 9 mm semiautomatic pistol; a .30'06 Browning bolt-action rife with a scope; and the AK-47 semiautomatic assault rifle, which he'd bought three days earlier, the lawsuit said.

As part of his guilty plea, he surrendered those weapons and a second assault rife, said Daniel J. Hanley, attorney for Mrs. Frye.

Although Mr. Creager had been coming to the quarry for years and knew about the swimmers, the lawsuit alleged that, "Having noticed an object floating at the southern end of the quarry, without pausing to identify it, Mr. Creager aimed his assault weapon at it and fired three rounds."

"Mr. Creager's unidentified target was Phillip."

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