Pellet-gun shootings alarm police, schools

October 09, 2007|By John-John Williams IV and Melissa Harris | John-John Williams IV and Melissa Harris,SUN REPORTERS

Howard County police have increased uniform and undercover patrols near two Elkridge schools after two 11-year-old boys were shot with a pellet gun at the bus stop on separate days last week.

"We're actively searching the area," said Howard police Lt. Timothy Black. "We've received numerous reports of sightings in the woods, and we've searched to no avail."

The shootings took place about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday near Joetta Drive and Deep Run Parkway, according to police. The victims suffered minor injuries, according to Black.

Parents at Mayfield Woods Middle and Deep Run Elementary, schools that are about a half-mile in opposite directions from the shooting area, were informed of the incidents through a series of letters and e-mails, according to Howard County schools spokeswoman Patti Caplan.

"They [schools] are working with the police to do anything they can to assist in clearing this up and getting this person," said Caplan. "Certainly we don't want to take any risks."

An e-mail sent last week to parents at Mayfield Woods Middle, which both victims attend, details some of the fear that students are experiencing.

"Students have stated that this individual has been watching them as they wait for their bus in the morning," wrote Principal Susan B. Griffith. "Our students have reported that they do not feel safe."

At nearby Deep Run Elementary, the school held recess indoors Friday, according to Principal Cindy Hankin. The parents of one prekindergartner kept their child at home one day, she added.

The school resumed outdoor recess yesterday, Hankin said.

The suspect is described as a young male with a thin build. He was wearing a black ski mask and camouflage.

"Let's hope that the kid who perpetuated these acts has caught wind of our efforts and that has stopped him," Black said.

The incidents have conjured memories of the sniper attacks of October 2002, according to Ann DeLacy, president of the Howard County Education Association.

"I think it is a very frightening situation," DeLacy said. "Children are totally exposed."

Hankin, who began her first year as a principal the year of the sniper attacks, also notes the similarities.

"We are using many of the same precautions," she said. "You have to use all resources available to you."

Anyone with information is asked to call police 410-313-3200.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com melissa.harris@baltsun.com

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