A dispute over whose property three trees were on prompted one neighbor to fatally shoot another neighbor with a rifle in Western Maryland on Wednesday, and police said this morning they have a suspect in custody.
Maryland State Police said the victim, Dennis E. Liller, 43, and the suspect, Alexander E. Malaska, 69, live next door to each other on Park Horse Trail in Allegany County. The shooting occurred Wednesday about 8 p.m.
Malaska was charged with manslaughter and is being held in the Allegany County Detention Center on $300,000 bail.
Police said the dispute started in September. The suspect's son, Michael, cut the trees down, police said, and a member of the other family applied for criminal charges that are scheduled to be tried in court next month.
About 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, police said Malaska found 'no trespassing' signs posted on the tree stumps. Police he removed the signs and walked next door, and police were called to quell the argument.
Natural Resources officers responded and left after the argument appeared to have been resolved, state police said. But the feuding families started up again later, with allegations that Malaska bumped Liller and Liller punched Malaska in the face.
"Witnesses told investigators Alexander Malaska came outside with a rifle and fired as the fight continued," state police said in a statement. "One shot struck Liller."