Security guard stabbed at HCC

Woman, 26, sustains wound to the head

Reportedly not life-threatening

Police identify ex-boyfriend as suspect in the attack

Columbia

March 30, 2004|By Gus G. Sentementes and Sandy Alexander | Gus G. Sentementes and Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

A Howard Community College security guard was stabbed in the head as she was reporting to work yesterday afternoon in a rare incident of violence that stunned administrators and students on the bucolic Columbia campus. Police said they were seeking a former boyfriend in the incident.

The attack occurred about a dozen steps from the college security office about 4 p.m. in a main campus building, college and police officials said. After stabbing her several times, the attacker ran to a vehicle and drove away, police said.

"One of the security guards came around and said it was an emergency," said Charles H. Mays, the campus security director, who was in the office as the attack occurred. "She was coming to work. She had just walked in the door [of the building]."

The name of the 26-year-old woman was not divulged. She was taken to Howard County General Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening and was stable last night, a police spokeswoman said.

Authorities were searching for a suspect, identified last night as 29-year-old Gilbert Lee Redmond Jr. They did not have a description of a vehicle, however, said Sherry Llewellyn, a Howard police spokeswoman.

Redmond and the victim are from Baltimore, police said.

Redmond, according to Baltimore District Court records, was charged with violating a protective order last year, though it could not be determined whether that case is related to the victim in yesterday's campus attack.

He also had been scheduled for trial tomorrow in the city's District Court on charges of attempted burglary, the records showed.

The woman was attacked in the main entrance of the Galleria building, which houses administration and teachers' offices, classrooms, a bookstore and a cafeteria. She works for Allied Security, a contractor in King of Prussia, Pa., that provides about 18 security guards on campus, Mays said.

Police blocked off the crime scene with a folding screen as detectives interviewed witnesses and gathered evidence, and a few students stopped and asked questions. Security guards, meanwhile, reviewed a surveillance videotape in the security office. It was not known whether the attack had been recorded.

Campus officials characterized the incident as a domestic dispute that had roots in Baltimore and happened to spill over onto the 120-acre campus in Columbia's Town Center.

College spokesman Randy Bengfort said he could not recall so serious an incident of violence on campus in his 15 years there. "Nothing quite like this," he said.

He also said there would be increased security patrols at the college last night.

It was the second stabbing at an area college since the weekend. On Saturday night, a 20-year-old woman was stabbed in the face while leaving a rap concert at Towson University, which had rented its Towson Center to organizers of the event held during spring break.

At the Galleria, students expressed shock at yesterday's attack.

"It doesn't happen in this area everyday. ... But there's psychos all over the place," said Rob Rix, 25, a part-time student who grew up in Columbia.

"It's something I never expected to happen at HCC," said Laura Zeender a student from Fulton and vice president of the student government association.

Zeender, who left campus yesterday before the attack, said she has never heard of anything like a stabbing happening at the school and always feels safe parking and walking on the campus.

Roger N. Caplan, chairman of the HCC board of trustees, said the incident was "way out of the ordinary for us. I am certain this is an isolated incident. I am sure with the cooperation of the Howard County police and our security system, we will find out what happened and deal with the findings of the investigation."

"I just hope this security officer pulls out of this physically," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family."

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