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The Baltimore Sun

Bel Air man charged with assault

A Bel Air man was charged with first-degree assault Wednesday after an alleged incident at a nearby homeless camp.

Robert Wayne Whetzel, 51, who has a post office box in Bel Air, was charged Tuesday with first- and second-degree assault, vandalism and resisting arrest. He appeared for a bail review hearing before District Court Judge Mimi Cooper, who read the charging documents out loud.

Maryland State Police troopers were dispatched to the homeless camp, off Route 1, on April 9 for a report of a man, identified as Whetzel, allegedly setting fires. Whetzel put the fire out upon request, but according to the charging documents, troopers were dispatched the next day for a report that he was allegedly hitting a road sign with a hammer.

When he arrived, the trooper attempted to calm Whetzel by talking to him, which made him angrier, according to the charging documents. Whetzel was also apparently cursing at the trooper and was described in charging documents as "hostile" and "confrontational."

The trooper told Whetzel he was scaring him and felt a fight was "imminent" and pointed pepper spray at him, but after spraying, said the pepper spray had little effect on Whetzel, according to the documents. At that point, Whetzel allegedly began "throwing punches" blindly and was arrested.

Earlier in the bail review hearing, Public Defender Lynne McChrystal requested for Whetzel to be released, adding that he had three adult children and lived most of his life in Maryland. After hearing Cooper recount the charging documents, Assistant State's Attorney Tracey Delp called Whetzel a danger to the community and requested an increase in bail.

Cooper increased his bail from $5,000 to $10,000 and as of Thursday afternoon, Whetzel was still being held at the Harford County Detention Center.

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