A park ranger who was attacked Thursday night when she entered a heavily wooded area of Patapsco Valley State Park to investigate a report of indecent exposure said yesterday that she was not certain what happened that night.
"I don't know," said a visibly shaken Heather McLaughlin as she rested on a deck chair in her back yard yesterday afternoon. "I'm waiting to hear from the investigators."
Ranger McLaughlin, who had a bruised left eye, declined to discuss details of the assault or events leading up to it.
Department of Natural Resources officials said they have turned the case over to the state police Criminal Investigation Division.
Police said they are searching for the same man who campers reported had exposed himself, described as a white male in his mid-30s with a medium build. The Maryland Crime Scene Search Team continues to look for evidence, but state police would not say if they found any evidence at the scene and are waiting to speak with the ranger.
"She is still very shaken," said Lt. Greg Shipley, state police spokesman. "We've not been able to have a full, in-depth interview with her."
Police confirmed that the Beretta .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun used by Ranger McLaughlin had been fired at least once, although they do not believe anyone was hit. It was also not clear whether she saw her assailant.
About 8 p.m. Thursday, Ranger McLaughlin, 29, parked her GMC Blazer at the corner of Henryton Road off Marriottsville Road in Howard County and radioed in. Fifteen minutes later, rangers received two garbled calls that Ranger McLaughlin apparently made while she was being attacked.
"She repeated she was being assaulted and needed assistance," Lieutenant Shipley said.
An infrared sensing device and sightings of the ranger's flashlight enabled search teams to find her shortly after midnight, at the bottom of a 12-foot cliff.
She was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore and released several hours later.