The new Maryland State Police superintendent, Col. Larry W. Tolliver, went to Anne Arundel County unannounced Friday night to watch his officers in action.
What he got was doused with beer and shot at by a teen-ager suspected of drug dealing. The bullets grazed a rear door of his car but missed the superintendent and the two other people inside.
"It didn't really scare me when he started shooting," the superintendent said. But the beer made him mad.
Six more state police patrol cars and a helicopter answered Colonel Tolliver's call for help in Pioneer City, near Fort Meade, before the evening was over.
"This wasn't what I had planned," he said.
The superintendent went along on the planned drug buy because of a promise he made to Gov. William Donald Schaefer to become directly involved in police operations. Since his promotion in May, the career administrator has visited the Centreville, Waterloo and Forestville barracks. He patrolled the highways with a trooper on Memorial Day.
"By going to the barracks personally," Colonel Tolliver said, "I have managed to take care of a lot of little problems that normally would require a lot of time and paperwork."
But Sgt. Diane J. Kulp ran into a big problem in Pioneer City around 8:45 p.m. Friday. Wearing a white T-shirt and dungarees, she spotted a group of about 15 people and, from the car, asked if she could get "20" -- or $20 worth of crack. Colonel Tolliver sat in the front passenger's seat, and a reporter from The Sun was in the back seat behind him.
Sergeant Kulp had planned to buy the crack and then drive two blocks away to give Tfc. John Hurley a description of the suspect. Trooper Hurley could then make the arrest, protecting Sergeant Kulp's identity. A Sun photographer was stationed with Trooper Hurley, intending to record the arrest.
Instead, the suspected crack dealer looked into Sergeant Kulp's car and yelled in an agitated voice, "You look like cops."
Sergeant Kulp countered: "Hey, if you don't want to sell me any, I'll get some from somebody down the road."
She drove into a cul-de-sac and then returned to the same group.
The youth yelled for her to pull into the parking area.
Sergeant Kulp said later she didn't oblige because there was no route of escape. "I'm not stupid. You never do that," she said.
When she continued on, the young man yelled some obscenities and then threw the beer into the open car window where Colonel Tolliver was sitting, splashing him and the car.
The suspect then pulled a handgun.
"Oh s , he's shooting at us," Sergeant Kulp said, as she accelerated and weaved the car back and forth during her getaway. Witnesses heard at least seven shots, and three spent .22-caliber casings were recovered from the ground later.
The sergeant drove to a nearby shopping center, where Colonel Tolliver ordered in additional officers and a helicopter and then went back to the scene of the shooting.
Colonel Tolliver said many of the Pioneer City residents were helpful to police as officers went door-to-door looking for the gun-wielding youth.
"A lot of those people are just innocent victims. They have to live there, and they are scared to death," he said. "Drugs and shootings there have become a way of life for them. There was another shooting there just a couple hours before we arrived. A lot of them know the guy who did the shooting, and they really hate him."
About noon yesterday, a 14-year-old boy was taken to the Glen Burnie barracks for questioning about the shooting, said Sgt. Kenneth E. Ward. No charges had been filed last night.
Sergeant Kulp is alarmed at how violent the drug trade has become since she started police work 19 years ago.
"It's a lot different now [investigating narcotics operations]. They don't seem to care anymore. Everyone has a gun. This was really stupid," she said, referring to the Friday night shooting. "Suppose he killed one of us -- for what? This should have been a routine thing."
Colonel Tolliver worries about youngsters involved in drug wars.
"They seem to have no values. We're not going to win this battle through law enforcement alone," he said. "We have to get the churches, the community organizations and others involved."
The superintendent said he was developing a program to give teen-agers insights into law enforcement by letting them ride along with troopers.
For his part, though, Colonel Tolliver said the next time he rides with troopers, he'll go to Western Maryland, where life is a little more serene.