Man shot by officer in Howard Victim, policeman struggled at mall HOWARD COUNTY

April 30, 1993|By Frank Langfitt and Alisa Samuels | Frank Langfitt and Alisa Samuels,Staff Writers

A Howard County police officer yesterday shot and criticall wounded a 24-year-old man who police said grabbed the officer's can of pepper Mace and sprayed it at him.

Witnesses said several shots were fired outside the Columbia Junction Shopping Center in the 8600 block of Washington Blvd. in Jessup, where an officer responded to a report of a man acting strangely.

David Shipley of the 1600 block of Inverness Avenue, Baltimore, was shot "multiple" times, including one wound to the midsection, police said. Police said they believe he may have been under the influence of drugs when he entered the Special Arrangements Florist & Gifts shop at the center. Mr. Shipley's wife, Mary, is an employee of the shop. Police said they were called after Mr. Shipley grabbed some prescription medicine from the shop owner's purse.

Officer Patrick McDonald, 30, a four-year veteran of the force, arrived about 3 p.m. and began talking to Mr. Shipley, who then fled, police said. As a struggle ensued on a lawn at the end of the center, Mr. Shipley grabbed the officer's pepper Mace and sprayed him with it, said police spokesman Sgt. Gary L. Gardner. The policeman fired several times, he said. Mr. Shipley was taken by ambulance to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he was listed in critical condition last night after surgery.

Officer McDonald was treated at Howard County General Hospital for second-degree burns to his face, arms and eyes and was released, Sergeant Gardner said.

Officer McDonald will be placed on routine administrative leave while the department investigates the shooting. It is the first shooting by police in Howard County this year, but the fifth shooting by an area police officer in the past 13 days.

According to Sergeant Gardner:

Mr. Shipley was acting strangely when the officer met him inside the florist shop, so the officer called an ambulance for a possible drug overdose. In an interview with The Sun, the shop owner said Mr. Shipley claimed to have taken PCP and LSD.

Officer McDonald took him outside, leaned him up against one of the shopping center's brick columns and frisked him. The officer found no weapons.

Witnesses said Officer McDonald then went to look into a pickup truck Mr. Shipley was driving, which police later discovered was stolen. While he was looking in the window, Mr. Shipley darted up the sidewalk toward the end of the shopping center and Officer McDonald followed.

About this time, Mary Deinlein was leaving work from a convenience store at the end of the shopping center where she serves as assistant manager. She was sitting in her car with fellow employee Anna Tripodi when they spotted Officer McDonald approaching Mr. Shipley at the edge of the shopping center.

The policeman touched the man's arm apparently to guide him off a roadway and "the man just jerked around and reached for the policeman's gun," said Ms. Deinlein, who lives in Savage.

Officer McDonald put his hand on his gun to stop Mr. Shipley, and then both fell to the ground, rolling and wrestling, she said. The officer "just kept his hand on that gun and that man just kept trying to get that gun," Ms. Deinlein recalled.

At this point, the two women ran into the store and told employees to call 911.

As they headed back out the door, "we heard the first gun shot go off," Ms. Deinlein said.

Officer McDonald was able to hit a signal button to summon help, but Mr. Shipley sprayed the officer with the pepper, crippling him, police said. The officer, in return, fired his 9 mm semiautomatic gun several times.

Mr. Shipley never got control of the officer's gun, Sergeant Gardner said. No other weapons were found at the scene.

Of the more than half-dozen witnesses interviewed by The Sun who saw the struggle or the aftermath of the shooting, none saw the shots being fired.

The sound of gunfire was heard by several people, who estimated the number of shots fired at between five and eight.

After the shooting, Gregory Sykes, 36, said he saw the two men on the grass. "His eyes were really messed up," he said of the officer. "Both his eyes were bruised and swollen."

He said Mr. Shipley was lying on grass to the officer's left.

"I heard about five gunshots -- a couple times, a pause, then three more," said hairstylist Margaret Werre, 25, who works nearby.

Witnesses said that after the shooting Mr. Shipley tried to fight off police and medics, who told him to stay still.

Gloria Flowers, owner of the Special Arrangements shop, said she was sitting at her desk when Mr. Shipley walked into the store.

"He appeared to be intoxicated," she said.

Mrs. Shipley was not at the shop that afternoon.

After Mr. Shipley arrived at the store, an awkward conversation followed:

"He said, 'Are you OK?' I said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Are you OK?' He said 'No.'

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"He didn't know what he was doing here," she said. "He needed help. I guess he felt like I could help him."

She asked him to sit down.

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