State trooper shoots, wounds man in Mount Airy

Police told man to drop weapon after domestic violence call

August 21, 2010|By Baltimore Sun staff

A Maryland state trooper shot and wounded a domestic assault suspect in Mount Airy on Friday night, after the man defied orders to drop a weapon he had pointed at police, Maryland State Police said.

Police said the suspect, 29-year-old Hugh M. Alexander III, was carrying what appeared to be a handgun, but turned out to be a pellet pistol. Troopers from the Westminster barracks were called to a Mount Airy home in the 1700 block of Trestle St. about 8:30 p.m. by a woman who said her boyfriend struck her and tried repeatedly to choke her, according to a police statement.

Tfc. Edward J. Witanowski, a five-year veteran, arrived first and awaited backup, police said. But then he saw the suspect emerge from the home with a weapon. Witnesses told police they saw Alexander point a pistol at Witanowski and heard the uniformed trooper repeatedly warn the suspect to drop the weapon.

Witanowski, who police said was "in fear for his life," fired his service weapon at the suspect, and hit him once in the leg. Investigators said Alexander had been carrying a Crossman 4.5 mm pellet pistol, which is black metal and the same size and shape as a semiautomatic pistol.

An ambulance transported Alexander to Carroll Hospital Center after the trooper provided first aid on the scene, police said. The suspect remained under police guard at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was transferred Saturday morning.

Police obtained an arrest warrant for Alexander on two counts each of first- and second-degree assault, assault on a law enforcement officer and reckless endangerment.

Police also charged Alexander's alleged victim, 44-year-old Sara A. Totuschek, with assaulting an officer as she was led away from her home while police awaited a search warrant. She was arrested and released on her own recognizance early Saturday morning.

State police investigators are looking into the shooting, and Witanowski has been placed on routine administrative leave during the investigation. He was not injured in the incident.

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