ER brawl follows fatal shooting

3 arrested as angry crowd battles with authorities in Howard County General Hospital

June 27, 2006|By MELISSA HARRIS | MELISSA HARRIS,SUN REPORTER

Friday was a typical night in the emergency room at Howard County General Hospital, busy, but virtually silent - until the 20 to 30 angry people showed up.

About midnight, a rowdy crowd tried to push, scream and shove its way past police officers and locked doors into the triage area, where 20-year-old Anthony James Owen-Smith had died after being shot during a fight in Columbia less than an hour earlier.

Some climbed over the receptionists' counter - the only unlocked route to Owen-Smith. Three people were arrested and three suffered minor injuries in the brawl, including one Howard County police officer, according to police and hospital officials.

"This is highly unusual for Howard County," said spokeswoman Mary Patton, who said the 187-bed hospital was put on yellow alert, meaning that ambulances were discouraged from bringing patients there until the situation calmed down.

Patton said it was the worst violence she's seen at the hospital - which is best-known for its maternity ward - in her six years there. "What was unexpected was the number of people" involved, she said.

Police were saying little yesterday about the chaotic scene at the hospital or what relationship, if any, the intruders had to the victim.

A hospital report said that officers from Howard and Montgomery counties and state police responded to quell the disturbance.

Howard County police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said that 20-year-old Britney Miles, 24-year-old Austin Reidemonn and a 17-year-old male were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

According to court records, the fatal shooting that apparently sparked the incident occurred about 11:30 p.m. Friday. According to police, a witness saw two people leave the scene of the shooting - one carrying a handgun - near the Kings Crossing community entrance in the 8900 block of Early April Way in Columbia.

Court records state that Michael Dean Jackson, 28, of Skyrock Court in Columbia whom police suspect was the man with the handgun, later confessed to the killing, saying it was the result of a fight with Owen-Smith that started earlier Friday.

"Jackson stated that Owen-Smith and his friends had come into his neighborhood to beat up [Jackson] and his brother," the charging documents state. "Jackson advised that he shot Owen-Smith in self defense."

Llewellyn would not say how many times Owen-Smith, of Howard Hills Drive in Savage, was shot. She said that police were still trying to learn how many people witnessed the shooting and that detectives had not confirmed what sparked the argument.

Jackson was being held at the Howard County Detention Center yesterday on $500,000 bond, which must be posted in full.

Phone calls and visits to the suspect's home were not answered. Owen-Smith's family did not respond to a request for an interview. Attempts to reach Miles and Reidemonn by telephone were unsuccessful.

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

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