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Harford man accused of firing nearly 200 rounds at police, shooting neighbor and killing dog denied bail

A Harford County District Court judge denied bail to a man accused of firing nearly 200 rounds at police officers, shooting a neighbor and killing a dog Tuesday night in the rural community of Street.

Benjamin Thomas Murdy, 43, appeared in the court Friday via a television screen broadcasting the proceedings to him. He is held without bond at the Harford County Detention Center on charges of attempted murder, assault and animal cruelty, among others charges.

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Benjamin Murdy, 43, of Street, is charged with attempted first- and second-degree murder after he allegedly shot more than 200 rounds at Harford County Sheriff's deputies responding to his home for an animal cruelty complaint Tuesday night, Jan. 21.
Benjamin Murdy, 43, of Street, is charged with attempted first- and second-degree murder after he allegedly shot more than 200 rounds at Harford County Sheriff's deputies responding to his home for an animal cruelty complaint Tuesday night, Jan. 21.

Murdy is charged in connection to a shooting at his home in the 4500 block of Oak Ridge Drive, where deputies responded to an animal abuse report Tuesday. When they arrived, they found one of Murdy’s neighbors shot in two places on his lower body and allegedly took fire from Murdy, who was inside the house.

After more than 90 minutes of sporadic gunshots, Murdy agreed to surrender and was arrested without incident.

More than 30 deputies and other law enforcement officers responded to the rural street, bringing helicopters, the Harford County Sheriff’s Special Response Team and an armored vehicle to coax Murdy from the home.

Though police responded in force and ordered the street’s residents to shelter in place, no deputies fired a single round in return, Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler said at a Wednesday press conference.

Gahler said Murdy fired nearly 200 rounds at deputies from a rifle and a handgun during the course of the standoff.

If convicted of attempted first-degree murder, Murdy could face up to life in prison. Cumulatively, his seven other charges carry a maximum penalty of 76 years and 90 days in prison.

Judge Mimi Raffel Cooper apprised Murdy of his rights, and his attorney Steve Tully waived a preliminary hearing — where the state attempts to prove probable cause against defendants. Tully also presaged future motions.

“We will be filing for a competency evaluation,” Tully told the court.

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The judge did not order a competency evaluation at the hearing, but noted that the question of competency had been raised and Murdy did “appear to understand the proceedings.”

Murdy was quiet through the hearing, offering only yes and no responses to the judge. His silence was on his lawyer’s advice, as Tully reminded his client during the proceding.

“Mr. Murdy, I do not want you to say anything more,” Tully said, adding that they had “talked about this.”

“We wave allocution,” Tully continued — an opportunity for a defendant to address the court on the subject of his or her bail.

Assistant State’s Attorney Nicole Haas argued that, because of the severity of the charges, Murdy should be held without bail. She brought up Murdy’s interview with detectives after the fracas, where he allegedly said he was “trying to kill” the police that arrived at his home.

“The defendant in this case absolutely needs to be held,” Haas said. “The state believes he is absolutely a danger to the community.”

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Asked after the hearing if his client planned to plead not criminally responsible, Maryland’s version of other states’ the insanity defense, Tully gave nothing away.

“We will have to wait for the evaluation,” he said.

Murdy’s next scheduled appearance in Harford County District Court is for a felony dismissal hearing on Feb. 20.

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