Isaac Brown picked the wrong way and the wrong time to try to impress his friends.
Brown pleaded guilty yesterday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to drug and handgun charges for firing his gun in August 1992 as three people were driving away from his Pioneer City neighborhood after a drug deal had gone awry.
Brown said he fired his .25-caliber handgun to impress a group of friends who had been watching the drug transaction that night -- Aug. 7, 1992.
But he later found out -- after police helicopters swooped over his neighborhood and a dozen state troopers conducted a house-to-house search for him -- that the three people in the maroon Pontiac were the Maryland State Police superintendent, a state police sergeant and a Sun reporter.
Col. Larry W. Tolliver, the superintendent, went with Sgt. Diane Kulp to Pioneer City to see for himself the open-air drug market flourishing in Pioneer City. Roger Twigg, a Sun police reporter, was in the back seat to report on the activity.
Warren W. Davis III, assistant state's attorney, told Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. yesterday that Sergeant Kulp drove to the 1900 block of Arwell Court about 8:45 p.m., pulled up to a small crowd, stuck her head out the window and said she "wanted a 20," meaning a $20 bag of crack.
When a 15-year-old boy told her to pull her car into a dimly lighted dead-end cul-de-sac, she refused.
The teen-ager became angry and threw a paper cup of coffee or beer at the car. As Sergeant Kulp pulled away, up to six shots were fired at the car, according to witnesses.
Police learned from neighbors that the suspect who had tried to sell the drugs was a boy who lived in the neighborhood. He was charged as a juvenile with assault and battery the next day, after he was identified in photographs by Colonel Tolliver and Sergeant Kulp.
He was released after he identified Brown in interviews with police as the gunman.
Brown admitted to firing the gun, but said he only fired it into the air to impress friends who were nearby.
Three shell casings found at the scene matched his .25-caliber handgun. A search of his house turned up 18 plastic bags, each containing about $10 worth of cocaine.
Brown pleaded guilty yesterday to possession with intent to distribute cocaine, reckless endangerment and handgun charges. Judge Thieme set sentencing for Nov. 29.
Mr. Davis noted in court yesterday that the police response to the shooting was "extremely thorough."
Court records showed 15 people identified as prosecution witnesses: three Anne Arundel County police officers, 10 state troopers, Colonel Tolliver and Mr. Twigg.
After the shooting, police helicopters combed the area and a dozen troopers and county police swept into the neighborhood to conduct house-to-house interviews.
Police said the response was not unusual, given that the case involved circumstances where a police officer could have been shot.
Lt. James Thomas is a supervisor at the county police Western District, which handles Pioneer City. He said a shooting during an undercover drug buy would routinely spark an intensive police response, no matter the rank of the officers involved.
"Given the situation, you have to respond with everything you have," he said.