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Bail denied for alleged triggerman in Aberdeen police officer shooting

Bail denied for alleged triggerman in Aberdeen police officer shooting
Aberdeen Police Officer Jason Easton, who was shot Friday, is recovering at his home, and it will take some time to determine his “final prognosis.” an Aberdeen Police Department spokesperson said. Bail was denied for the alleged shooter Monday. An alleged accomplice is being held on $750,000 bail. (Aberdeen Police Department / Baltimore Sun)

One of two suspects charged in connection with Friday's shooting and wounding of an Aberdeen Police Department officer was ordered to remain in jail without bail during a hearing Monday afternoon in Harford County District Court. Bail was set at $750,000 for the second suspect.

Tyler Testerman, 21, of the 800 block of Tydings Road in Havre de Grace, is suspected of shooting Officer Jason Easton, a 10-year veteran of the Aberdeen department. Also charged in connection with the shooting is Scott Patrick Lawrence, 26, of the 3800 block of Washington Avenue in Abingdon, whom police believe was present when the shooting occurred and allegedly drove Testerman from the scene.

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Testerman and Lawrence are both charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault on a public safety officer, two more counts of second-degree assault and one count of reckless endangerment, according to court records.

They were arrested separately on Friday and, after being questioned by Aberdeen Police, were held at the Harford County Detention Center on no bail, prior to Monday's bail reviews. Judge Mimi Cooper refused to grant bail for Testerman, but set a bail of $750,000 for Lawrence, who remained in jail as of late Monday afternoon.

Testerman works for a moving company and lives with his father, public defender Marcus Jenkins told Cooper. His client was being held on no bond, but Jenkins asked Cooper to consider setting a bond in the range of $1 million to $2.5 million.

Jenkins, who asked that Cooper set bond in the range of $1 million to $2.5 million, noted that despite a prior criminal record, which court records show convictions for theft and burglary, "he's failed to appear for court only once."

Assistant State's Attorney Laura Casciano, however, that Testerman shouldn't get bail, considering his "pretty extensive prior criminal record" and the nature of the current charges.

"He's extremely dangerous," she said.

Jenkins said Lawrence is unemployed after being injured while working for a sheet metal company. He is not married, but he has a 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, of whom he has joint custody.

Jenkins requested a "reasonable bond" between $750,000 and $1 million.

"I don't think that would be inappropriate, considering he's never failed to appear for court," he said of Lawrence.

Casciano requested that Lawrence continue to have no bond, considering the nature of what he is charged with, but Cooper decided to set his bond at $750,000.

Two friends, two victims

Easton was shot around 3 a.m. Friday while investigating a resident's complaint of a "suspicious person" in the 500 block of Ohio Court, according to charging documents.

The suspects, who police say are friends, face two sets of charges because there are two victims involved, the officer and resident who called police, according to Aberdeen Police spokesperson Sgt. Will Reiber.

Easton was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore where he underwent surgery later that day. He has since been released from the hospital and was expected to seek follow-up medical care, according to the Aberdeen Police Department.

Reiber said Monday that Easton is recovering at his home, and it will take some time to determine his "final prognosis." Reiber said Easton suffered his most serious injury when a pellet was lodged in his left eye.

"There is some optimism, but there is a long road to recovery ahead," he said.

Reiber also said there has been an outpouring of support for the Aberdeen Police Department from residents, area businesses and sister law enforcement agencies.

"It's just been an overwhelming experience to see the levels of support from the public and our partners in law enforcement," he said.

Reiber said police believe that following the shooting, Lawrence allegedly drove Testerman to the home of Testerman's girlfriend in 1000 block of Waterside Court in Edgewood, where Testerman was arrested without incident around 10:30 a.m. Friday by Harford County Sheriff's Office deputies.

Tracked by GPS

Court charging documents state Testerman was tracked to the location through his cell phone using GPS technology.

Charging documents state that in interviews with Testerman's girlfriend, police learned he was in the company of Lawrence when Testerman began receiving text messages from the Aberdeen resident and that the two men allegedly went to "confront" the sender.

Aberdeen detectives arrested Lawrence without incident around 4 p.m. Friday. He was pulled over while driving in Perryman near an address he was known to frequent which police had placed under surveillance, according to charging documents.

A .410 caliber shotgun, the suspected weapon used in the shooting, was recovered during the arrest of Lawrence, police said.

According to charging documents, Easton arrived at the Ohio Court home and was talking with the resident who had called police, when he "encountered a while male subject standing in the wood line wearing a white camouflage jacket."

"The subject in the wood line then opened fire" on both the officer and the resident, according to the charging documents. Easton, the documents state, sustained "a critical eye injury to his upper torso."

An Aberdeen Police detective who responded to the scene interviewed the resident, who said he had been in an argument earlier with a friend named "Tyler" and that the two had exchanged multiple text messages, according to charging documents. The resident showed some of the text messages to the detective, whose own name was in one of them, according to the documents.

The resident was shown a photo of Testerman from social media, according to the charging documents, and identified Testerman as the one who allegedly sent the messages.

Online court records show Testerman was charged on September 29, 2012, with fourth-degree burglary, theft under $10,000, and other violations in a case where Easton was the arresting officer, The Baltimore Sun reported Saturday. He was found guilty of theft and sentenced to eight months.

At Monday night's Bel Air town meeting, Town Commissioner Brendan Hopkins asked people to pray for Easton, whom Hopkins said has been a friend of his for six or seven years.

Hopkins set up a GoFundMe page the Jason Easton Support Fund www.gofundme.com/8fddq53g, which as of Monday night had raised nearly $7,000 in three days.

The wounded officer, he said, will more than likely need more surgery.

Hopkins said Easton and his family have been active in the Aberdeen community, particularly through their church, helping homeless and other people in need.

"They are always willing to give," he said.

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