In perhaps the first arrest of its kind in the region, Anne Arundel County police have charged an 18-year-old Edgewater man with assault and battery after he allegedly shot a 9-year-old girl in the face with a Super Soaker water gun.
The gun may have been loaded with an irritating substance, since the girl's eye seemed to be burned by a chemical, said the victim's mother. Police were testing the gun's contents.
Kimberly Cutler, of the 1600 block of Havre de Grace Drive in Edgewater, was recovering at home today from injuries to her her right eye, said her mother, Karen Cutler.
Super Soakers, which spray water jets up to 50 feet, are causing increasing controversy around the country. A 15-year-old Boston boy was killed recently after an argument stemming from a water-gun battle involving a Super Soaker.
Reports of bleach being sprayed from the guns are increasing, say police around the country.
The suspect, Lonnie Jay Schreffler 2nd, of the the 1300 block of Shore Drive, was arrested at his home shortly after the 5:30 p.m. spraying incident yesterday. A Super Soaker was confiscated, said police spokeswoman Florence Steffen.
A 17-year-old Edgewater boy, whose name was not released, also was charged with assault and battery, police said.
"I don't know who came out with these things, but they used very poor judgment," the girl's mother said today.
"This was an adult doing this to a child," said the angry Mrs. Cutler, 28, who drives a school bus for the county school system.
"Hopefully, it will make parents more aware so it doesn't happen to another child," she said.
Kimberly, who had gone crabbing at a beach along the South River, was waiting for the ice cream truck at the corner of Bentley Road and Shore Drive with her two younger brothers and her mother at the time of the spraying.
Police said two males drove by in a car and shot the child in the face with a stream of liquid from a distance of less than 50 feet. After reporting the incident to police, the mother drove Kimberly to a nearby medical clinic, where she was treated.
Mrs. Cutler said the girl, who will be a fifth-grader at Edgewater Elementary this fall, has a patch over her eye and was scheduled to see an eye specialist today.
"She seems to be OK," Mrs. Cutler said. "They expect a full recovery. They just don't know when."
Kimberly's 6-year-old brother recently asked for a Super Soaker for his birthday, Mrs. Cutler said. He didn't get it, and he probably never will, she said.
HTC "I had been keeping up with it in the news," she said, referring to the controversy over Super Soakers, which are marketed by Larami Corp. of Philadelphia.
More than 3 million Super Soakers, which cost up to $35 each depending on water capacity, were sold last year in U.S. toy stores.