An Ellicott City man was arrested Tuesday evening after he used a sling shot to fire glass marbles at a speed camera van, according to Howard County police.
Bruce Lawrence May, 50, of the 2800 block of Evergreen Court, was charged with second degree assault, destruction of property and reckless endangerment. He has been released on $3,000 bond.
As the arresting officer transported May to the Howard County Detention Center for processing, the charging documents noted that "May stated he was sorry and said he was stupid for shooting at the van."
Later, while at the detention center, the documents noted: "May stated he was angry at the speed vans and took it personally since he has received two speeding citations from the vans in the past six weeks."
Speed camera citations, which are issued to cars found to be traveling 12 mph or more above the posted speed limit, come with a $40 fine.
Howard County Police Chief Bill McMahon said he knows the speed camera program is controversial and many people do not like it, but noted "there's a correct way and an inappropriate way to voice that displeasure."
He added: "I think the general public, despite how people feel about speed cameras, will not find this appropriate."
Pieter Lucas, a civilian police department employee, was manning the speed camera van on Route 144 near Triadelphia Road in the school zone for Manor Woods Elementary where Recreation and Parks was hosting a summer camp. At around 5 p.m., Lucas said he heard something hit the side of the van and saw a gray 2005 Chrysler Town and County minivan passing on Route 144.
The minivan then passed by the speed camera van again, police said, and Lucas saw the minivan driver with a sling shot firing what was later determined to be glass marbles at the van.
Charging documents reveal that Lucas exited the van after hearing the first loud thud "and examined the (driver side) sliding door to observe a quarter size dent in the side of the door."
When the minivan passed by for a third time Lucas noticed the sling shot, according to the charging documents.
"Lucas quickly got into the driver's seat of the transit van and quickly followed the gray minivan onto Triadelphia Road," the documents read. "Lucas used his radio to summon assistance and honked his vehicle's horn in attempts to have the suspect vehicle stop."
May did stop, and Lucas obtained his driver's license, registration and the sling shot before an officer arrived to the scene and arrested May, according to the documents.
Though Lucas was not injured during this incident, he is no stranger to the danger of working for the police department. When volunteering as an auxiliary police officer in 2005, Lucas was standing on westbound Route 40 at the scene of an accident when a vehicle struck him; part of his left leg had to be amputated because of his injuries.
Damage to the speed camera van is estimated at $500, according to the documents. May's trial is scheduled for Aug. 29, according to online court records.
Police said the June 26 incident is the third this month involving damage to a speed camera van.
On June 13, someone threw an unknown object at a van posted on Route 99 near Waverly Elementary School in Ellicott City, breaking the back window. The day before, someone threw rocks through the window of a State Highway Administration van, posted in the construction zone on Route 29 near Ellicott City, striking the operator and damaging the equipment and vehicle.
Police are investigating whether the three incidents are related.
McMahon said his main concern about the incidents is "they're putting people at risk," both the employees who man the vans and the other drivers in the area. He said hopes publicizing the incident will send the message to people that police take it seriously such behavior will be prosecuted.
The June incidents are the first involving damage to speed camera vans or equipment in Howard County, police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said.
Howard County has two mobile vans it operates in school zones as a part of its speed camera program, which started in October of 2011. The vans are constantly manned by a civilian employee of the police department Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. After hours, the vans are parked in a secure location, Llewellyn said.