A Westminster man has been charged with assault and reckless endangerment after allegedly chasing minors riding all-terrain vehicles on his property with his truck and firing a handgun in the air.
Dwight E. Baugher, 45, of 1000 block of Baugher Road is charged with three counts of reckless endangerment from a car, three counts of second-degree assault, and one count each of having a handgun in a car, having a loaded handgun in a vehicle, having a handgun on his person, all of which are misdemeanors, according to electronic court records.
Baugher was initially charge with felony first degree assault, but as of May 8, the state had entered a nolle prosequi, meaning prosecutors will no longer pursue that change, according to court records obtained by the Times.
All the charges are misdemeanors, with the exception of the first-degree assault charge, which is a felony.
About 9:18 p.m. Tuesday, a Carroll County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded to the 1300 block of S. Pleasant Valley Road for a report of a “mini bike complaint,” according to charging documents. Dispatch had informed the deputy that Baugher had made the call to police and had allegedly told the operator he had chased multiple “four-wheelers” from his orchards — Baugher owns Baugher’s Orchards and Farms in Westminster — and fired a handgun at them.
After arriving, the deputy found Baugher standing next to his white pickup and a minor standing next to a four-wheel ATV, according to charging documents. When asked by the deputy where his handgun was, Baugher allegedly said the handgun, plus a rifle, were in his truck.
Baugher then explained the situation by telling the deputy that people had been riding ATVs on his property for about a month, making him very angry, and he had been trying to catch the riders in the act, according to charging documents. After a phone call by a neighbor who tipped off Baugher, he intercepted three ATV riders in his orchard near South Pleasant Valley and Baugher roads, the documents state, and fired his handgun multiple times in the air out his driver’s-side door from about 100 yards away.
The ATV riders left the orchard and fled south along South Pleasant Valley Road, according to the account Baugher told the deputy in the charging documents, claiming to have fired another three handgun rounds into the air from his truck when he closed the distance to one of the riders to about 30 feet.
In the charging documents, the deputy alleges that Baugher told him in an excited manner that, “I did a PIT maneuver to stop one of them from getting away from me. I haven’t checked the front bumper on my truck yet, but I don’t care if it has a dent, I wanted to get as close as possible,” Baugher allegedly said. He further said that, “I want people to think I’m crazy around here. If people think I’m crazy, then they won’t ride on my property.” A PIT maneuver, or pursuit intervention technique, can be used to force another vehicle to turn abruptly and often stop.
The minor whom Baugher allegedly cut off and who was on the scene when the deputy arrived offered a written statement that is quoted in the charging documents:
“I pulled over because I was scared he was gonna kill me and when I stopped, he got out and threatened to kill me if I ran and would not let me call my parents until the cops got here,” the statement read. “When he hung up the phone with the cops after they told him to unload the gun, he said to me, ‘don’t worry, I still have a rifle if you try to run.’ ”
Baugher was arrested and taken to Carroll County Detention Center and was initially held without bond, according to electronic court records, but was released Wednesday on his own recognizance. He is due in Carroll County District Court on June 23 for a preliminary hearing.
Haven Shoemaker, a state delegate representing Carroll County, is listed in court records as Baugher’s attorney. A phone message for him was not returned Thursday evening.
A call placed to the number on record for Baugher seeking comment for this story was not immediately returned Thursday.
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Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misstated Baugher’s age and the date of the incident. Baugher, 45, was arrested on Tuesday, April 28.