GOP supporter awakes to find two political lawn signs burning

September 25, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

An Ellicott City homeowner said he awoke early yesterday to the crackling sound of a fire that burned two large Republican signs he had erected the previous day on his front lawn.

Howard County police arrested an Ellicott City man last night on charges of destroying a separate Bush-Cheney sign. They are investigating whether he might have been responsible for damaging numerous other Republican signs over the past several days, said spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn.

Fire extinguished

In the burning incident, Jim McQuarry, of the 10100 block of Old Frederick Road, said he was sleeping with the window open about 1 a.m. yesterday when he heard the fire that consumed the election signs - a 4-foot-by- 8-foot sign supporting the Bush-Cheney ticket and a 2-foot-by-8- foot sign promoting state Sen. E.J. Pipkin's bid for the U.S. Senate.

He ran to the fire, which had spread to a fence, and extinguished most of it using a garden hose.

Howard County firefighters put out the rest with foam, he said.

McQuarry said he was outraged by the incident, which occurred near the road, about 100 feet from his home.

He said that he was concerned for the safety of his wife and four young children, but that he planned to put up new signs.

"I'm not going to be weak and let them control my life," McQuarry said.

A Howard County police spokeswoman said investigators were viewing the fire as a malicious burning.

Other signs vandalized

Howard County Republican Party chairman Howard M. Rensin said that at least 12 other large Bush-Cheney signs and more than 50 smaller signs have been torn down or vandalized over the past few days, at a cost of more than $1,450.

County police last night arrested Cory Robert Cooke, 33, of Fels Lane in Ellicott City, and charged him in connection with the destruction of a Bush-Cheney sign on Route 40, Llewellyn said.

Police are investigating whether he is connected to other incidents of vandalism to signs, she said.

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