Police scour Arundel for armed fugitive Canadian soldier flees, another held in U.S. 50 shootout

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Authorities continued to search a sparsely populated area along U.S. 50 in Anne Arundel County last night for a 21-year-old Canadian soldier armed with a revolver who, along with a companion, allegedly fired on two state troopers Thursday night.

Police said the fugitive, Pvt. Eric William Schumacher, is wanted in Toronto for allegedly shooting a police constable. They described the muscular 5-foot-10-inch, 170-pounder as having "mercenary-like" tendencies and being extremely dangerous.

"Local residents need to be concerned and exercise greater caution than normal," said Capt. Jesse Graybill, commander of the state police emergency operations team. "We don't feel he is an undue threat, but we want people to be cautious."

Private Schumacher and his companion, Pvt. Donald Roger Nelson, who was wounded and surrendered to Maryland troopers yesterday morning, are both wanted by Canadian authorities in connection with the police shooting.

They were believed to have been hitchhiking on westbound U.S. a quarter mile east of the Davidsonville Road exit when they were spotted by Trooper Kim Bowman.

Trooper Bowman, a 22-year-old with two years' police experience, pulled onto the shoulder of the road and asked the men for identification. She radioed the information into the

Annapolis barracks shortly before 10:30 p.m., said Chuck Jackson, a state police spokesman.

A police computer check showed that both men were wanted -- without specifying why -- and another trooper, Kim Brooks, 27 -- was dispatched to the scene as a backup, Mr. Jackson said.

Upon Trooper Brooks' arrival, the two troopers ordered both men to spread-eagle face down on a police cruiser and began to search them for weapons.

When Trooper Brooks yelled out that she had found a gun in Private Schumacher's waistband, Private Nelson pulled his own handgun on Trooper Bowman, according to Mr. Jackson.

Police said Trooper Brooks alertly threw Private Schumacher into the other man and both troopers retreated to cover behind a police cruiser.

An exchange of gunfire involving all four people quickly took place. One bullet struck Trooper Bowman, tearing through her shirt and scraping her leather gun belt before lodging harmlessly in her handcuff pouch. Another bullet shattered the rear window of one of the state police cruisers.

The two men ran into the woods north of U.S. 50.

Police set up roadblocks, cutting off several miles of westbound U.S. 50 until midafternoon yesterday. This caused westbound traffic to be rerouted along U.S. 97 and Route 3 -- a 10-mile detour -- as well as some delays for eastbound and beachbound travelers who slowed down to watch the police and television camera crews lining the highway median.

Private Nelson emerged from the woods at U.S. 50 near the Davidsonville off-ramp at 7:30 a.m. and was immediately captured by waiting police officers. He had a gunshot wound to the right knee and was taken to Anne Arundel General Hospital in Annapolis, where he was listed in stable condition last night after surgery.

Police said Private Nelson was found unarmed. They have yet to recover the pistol he allegedly used against the troopers.

Yesterday's manhunt focused on a 5-square-mile area bordered by Davidsonville Road, U.S. 50, Rutland Road and Rossback Road. More than 100 police officers, using five helicopters and a dozen dogs, combed the forest, gullies and farm fields.

Police said they were confident that Private Schumacher was trapped within police roadblocks and that they would find him soon. Late yesterday, officers began checking door to door in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Captain Graybill said Private Nelson cooperated with police investigators. Among other things, he told them that Private Schumacher was injured in the fracas with police -- but searchers found no evidence yesterday to confirm it, Captain Graybill said.

At one point in the daylong search, one of the dogs picked up what may have been Private Schumacher's scent in the woods. Searchers also found an embankment that someone appeared to have slid down, but police said the trail petered out.

Private Schumacher was last seen wearing an olive-drab top and blue jeans. Toronto police said he was armed with a .357-caliber Magnum handgun, 50 rounds of ammunition and two speed loaders.

Police filed attempted murder, conspiracy and handgun charges against the two men in District Court in Annapolis yesterday. They said they did not know how the two fugitives had ended up in Maryland.

The two troopers involved in the shooting were off duty yesterday after meeting with investigators and receiving counseling. Both troopers were badly shaken, according to Sgt. Michael S. Panos, acting commander of the Annapolis barracks.

"They did a great job, in my opinion," said Capt. Byron Hubble, troop commander for the Baltimore region. "Those gals, from what I can gather, really did a good job preventing themselves from getting hurt."

Area residents were surprised Thursday night as their normally quiet and secluded community, Lake of the Pines, echoed with the rumble of a low-flying helicopter, the blare of sirens and the sound of a voice amplified by a bullhorn.

"I knew they had to be looking for somebody," said Benjamin F. Sears Jr., who lives on Bell Creek Drive. He noted that his wife came home from a duck-carving class yesterday to find 13 police @cars in the area, and

he said, "I think some of the neighbors are cruising back and forth, keeping up with the police."

On Lake Forest Drive, Beverly J. Bray said seven of her 20 grandchildren were visiting yesterday and swimming in the family pool when "a policeman just appeared in the backyard and said, 'Please take them in, the fugitive could be near.'

"It's nice to know the policemen are out there taking care of us," Mrs. Bray said. "Needless to say, the grandchildren are very excited about this."

Police said the two fugitives, who were absent without leave from their Canadian army base in London, Ont., are charged in warrants in connection with the May 30 shooting of Constable Larry Dee.

The 36-year-old constable was wounded in the face and hip when he and a fellow plainclothes officer -- on patrol because of break-ins and thefts from parked cars -- tried to question two men in a parking lot near the Toronto SkyDome.

The Canadian warrants charge Private Schumacher, a Montreal resident, with attempted murder and Private Nelson of Surrey, ,, B.C., as an accessory.

The last confirmed sighting of the men had come a week ago in Montreal when, police said, they appeared at an "army buddy's house" and obtained a change of clothes and a gun. Police believed the men were carrying a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and the .357-caliber Magnum handgun.

A truck driver unwittingly drove the men from Toronto to %J Montreal, discovering their identities later in the day when he saw their pictures in a newspaper.

Private Nelson's family said he had hoped to join Toronto's metro police force or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. His father issued a public appeal last week for him to surrender, to "find the police before they find you."

A lawyer hired by Private Schumacher's family said he had been "a little bit unhappy" with the army after failing to get an assignment he wanted. The police said the private, a high school dropout who joined the army two years ago, had been punished previously for being absent without leave.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
39°