Dozens of police officers mounted a massive search in Anne Arundel County yesterday for the man in a black BMW who shot a sheriff's deputy three times at point-blank range late Wednesday night.
County officers and deputy sheriffs combed neighborhoods and parking lots and set up road blocks at major intersections leading into the county hoping to find the BMW with out-of-state tags, said county police Capt. Michael Fitzgibbons, who is heading the search.
A bulletproof vest saved the life of Deputy Edward Wholey, 48, of Hanover, who was on his way home from work at 11:30 p.m. when he stopped the car for reckless driving.
The deputy noticed the car weaving across the center line of Burns Crossing Road and turned on his cruiser's lights and siren. The car stopped "in the middle of the road" on Old Mill Road near Telegraph Road, police reports say.
The driver got out, stood next to his car with his arms at his sides and demanded to know why he was being stopped.
When Deputy Wholey was about 10 feet away, the driver raised his arm and opened fire.
Two bullets struck the vest, causing severe bruises, and a third passed through his shirt at the waistline. Two other bullets missed.
Deputy Wholey drew his pistol and fired at least one shot before the gunman sped off.
Investigators were unsure whether the driver was hit.
The deputy tried to chase the BMW but lost it, said Lt. Chuck Nelson, a Sheriff's Department spokesman.
Deputy Wholey could not call in the traffic stop because the Sheriff's Department does not have night dispatchers.
Instead, he pressed the emergency button on his radio to alert county police dispatchers to tune in his frequency.
"He didn't even know he was hit until a county police officer who arrived pointed it out to him," Lieutenant Nelson said.
Deputy Wholey was taken to North Arundel Hospital for treatment and released.
Captain Fitzgibbons said investigators believe the suspect, who wanted on assault with intent to murder charges, lives in the area between Washington and Baltimore.
The gunman is described as a black man between 20 and 30 years old with a short-bush hair style, who was wearing a black leather jacket and blue jeans.
Police did not have a description of a passenger who did not get out of the car.
Annapolis police believe they saw the BMW, either a 318i or 525 model, in the city several days ago, Lieutenant Nelson said.
"We think he was someone traveling through the county," he said. "We are just watching traffic now. Every police officer in the state has a description of that car on their hot sheet."
Police used a helicopter yesterday afternoon to search the woods near the scene to make sure the car was not stashed in a secluded spot.
Deputy Wholey's wife, Sonia, said her husband called her from the hospital at 1 a.m. and told her that he had been in an accident, that he was fine but needed X-rays.
"He didn't want me to worry and drag the kids to the hospital," she said. "He told me what happened when he got home, and I was shocked. It is frightening. That vest saved his life.
"I just keep telling myself it's going to be all right, because if I don't, I'll go crazy," Mrs. Wholey said.
Deputy Wholey, the father of two boys ages 9 and 5, is expected to be back at work in a week.
Mrs. Wholey says she's calm now but worried how she'll feel when her husband puts on his uniform and goes out the door.
"It's dangerous," she said. "But it is his job. He always wears his vest."
Even with two bullet holes in it, Deputy Wholey is banking that his vest's luck hasn't run out.
When he reached the hospital, Deputy Wholey found in his shirt pocket two $10 bills with holes in them from the impact of the rounds. He told colleagues he had planned to spend the money on lottery tickets.
"Now," Lieutenant Nelson said, "he thinks he already won the lottery."