An Ellicott City man charged with slinging marbles at a speed camera van was sentenced to probation before judgment, community service, and fines after pleading guilty Wednesday in Howard County District Court, in Ellicott City.
Bruce Lawrence May, 50, of the 2800 block of Evergreen Court, was charged with assault, reckless endangerment, and three counts of malicious destruction of property after he used a sling shot to fire glass marbles at a speed camera van on June 26. The van was parked on Route 144 near Triadelphia Road in the area of Manor Woods Elementary School, where the Howard County Recreation and Parks Department was hosting a summer camp.
On Wednesday, May pleaded guilty to the reckless endangerment charge and one charge of malicious destruction of property. The remaining three charges were dropped.
Howard County Judge Mary C. Reese sentenced May to perform 40 hours of community service at Serenity Center in Columbia, pay $157.50 in fines and continue his anger management course, which he enrolled in after the incident.
Before sentencing, May paid $453 in restitution to the owner of the van, Allied Computer Services.
May also agreed to write a letter of apology to the operator of the van, Pieter Lucas.
"What I did was very stupid," May said. "If I thought someone was in the van I wouldn't have even thought of doing what I did."
May's attorney, John Moody, said May had received two speed camera citations in the two weeks leading up to the incident. He said May immediately regretted his actions.
"He was frustrated and did something really stupid," Moody said. "We can all identify with having a bad day."
Lucas, a civilian police department employee, was manning the van when, at around 5 p.m., he heard something hit the side of the van and saw a minivan passing on Route 144. When the minivan passed by again, Lucas saw the driver with a sling shot firing marbles at the van. He then exited his van and, according to charging documents, saw "a quarter size dent in the side of the door."
After a third pass by the minivan, Lucas, according to the documents, got in his van and followed the minivan onto Triadelphia Road. "Lucas used his radio to summon assistance and honked his vehicle's horn in attempts to have the suspect vehicle stop," the documents said.
May stopped his minivan and Lucas obtained information and the sling shot before an officer arrived and arrested May.
Sean Collins, a representative from ACS, said this was not an isolated incident.
"The (restitution) is not what's important, it's the safety of our operators," Collins said. "Ignorance is not an excuse when you are endangering somebody's life."
Howard County speed camera program director Fred Von Briesen said there have been other incidents where rocks, water bottles, coffee and other objects have been thrown at the vans.
"There are people that do this on a pretty regular basis," Von Briesen said.
Von Briesen said he thinks the decision, at least in the short term, will deter others from attacking speed camera vans.
Howard County has two mobile vans that operate Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. in school zones as a part of its speed camera program. The vans are constantly manned by a civilian employee of the police department.