An after-hours party in Rockville turned deadly early yesterday when a 27-year-old man allegedly shot to death three guests who intervened in an apparent domestic dispute between him and his girlfriend, Montgomery County police said.
Paul Stefan Rajnic, who lives in Potomac, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and was being held without bail last night in the Montgomery County Detention Center.
Authorities had few answers as to what happened at the party, attended by 10 to 12 people at the one-story rambler in the 600 block of Crocus Drive in Rockville Estates, described as an established neighborhood of $200,000 homes.
"I think it's just one of those things," said Ann Evans, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Police Department, who described the home as neat, orderly and decorated for the holidays. "It was just bizarre. I wish we could explain it."
From what investigators could piece together from guests, the incident began about 1:40 a.m. when Mr. Rajnic went into a bathroom to help his girlfriend, who was sick and lives in the
The girlfriend's sister heard noises from the bathroom, and thinking her sibling was being assaulted by Mr. Rajnic, asked three men to help.
Police said that when Bryan Dana Doty, 24, and Douglas Ray Bostic, 23, both of Gaithersburg, and Stephen Paul Smith, 19, of Rockville, went to check on the woman, a fist-fight erupted involving Mr. Rajnic.
The fight moved from the bathroom to a bedroom, where police said Mr. Rajnic took a .38-caliber handgun from a bedside table and shot Mr. Smith in the head. Mr. Smith staggered into the lTC living room and collapsed.
Ms. Evans said one of the women at the party called police, reporting that one shot had been fired in the house. Several of the women ran outside.
Police said Mr. Rajnic then shot Mr. Doty in the chest with the handgun and shot Mr. Bostic in the back with a shotgun that was in the bedroom.
Ms. Evans said officers arrived and found Mr. Rajnic and his girlfriend in the living room. Both weapons were recovered from the bedroom. All three victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said the women were only aware that Mr. Smith had been wounded. "It was a surprise to the girls out front that there were two other people shot dead," Ms. Evans said.
Police would not release the names of other party guests, and witnesses and relatives of victims could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Rajnic was charged in 1991 with drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, court records show.
The spokeswoman said beer was being served at the party, "but to what degree that played into this, who knows." She said Mr. Rajnic's girlfriend owned the guns.
People living near the home where the shootings occurred said they were shocked that the incident occurred in their neighborhood. Montgomery County Councilman William E. Hanna Jr. lives across the street from the scene.
"This is a very quiet neighborhood," said Joan Emery, 62, who has lived in the 600 block of Crocus Drive since 1963. "I think the people involved didn't live here. The girls were pretty quiet. You could see them coming and going, but they never made any noise."