Union Bridge man pleads guilty to assault in shooting

He wounded his wife in incident that led to standoff with police

May 16, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Union Bridge man who wounded his wife and shot himself in November pleaded guilty in Carroll County Circuit Court yesterday to two counts of first-degree assault.

Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. set the sentencing of Ernest L. Armstrong Sr., 63, of the 600 block of Raywell Ave. for July 10.

Armstrong had been charged with 15 counts, including three counts of attempted first-degree murder in the incident, but pleaded guilty yesterday to the lesser charges of first-degree assault.

Prosecutor David P. Daggett said he will request an eight- to 10-year prison term for Armstrong "because of his age and lack of any criminal history."

The maximum penalty for first-degree assault is 25 years, he said."It's lucky for him that his wife was not seriously injured and her friend was not wounded," Daggett said.

According to court documents, state police were called to the home at Raywell Avenue at 9:50 a.m. Nov. 10 for a domestic argument between Armstrong and his wife, Shirley, 35.

As Tfc. Michael Duears arrived, he saw Shirley Armstrong running from the home with a male friend, Dana E. Rytel, 53, of Westminster. The trooper heard one shot, which struck the woman in the kidney area.

The trooper heard two more shots from inside the home and returned fire, which allowed the woman and Rytel to reach cover.

She was treated for a superficial .22-caliber gunshot wound and released from Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Her husband held police at bay for nearly five hours, forcing the evacuation of neighbors and disrupting classes for the day at nearby Francis Scott Key High School.

Police tactical officers entered the home and found Ernest Armstrong had shot himself twice in the chest with a .22-caliber rifle.

He was taken in critical condition to the Baltimore trauma center, where he recovered.

According to state police investigators, Rytel and the Armstrongs had worked together before Ernest Armstrong retired.

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