A 15-year-old Columbia youth was charged yesterday in a rock-throwing incident that left a newspaper delivery woman with severe head and facial injuries, county police reported.
Lynn McKissic of Columbia was struck with a softball-sized rock at 4: 25 a.m. Aug. 26 after she finished delivering 350 copies of The Sun. Two of her children, who were with her, helped to drive her van to a gas station, where they called 911.
The incident sparked community concern and prompted The Sun and the Howard County Police Department to post a combined $2,000 reward.
County police charged the Owen Brown youth with first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. He was being held at the Southern District station.
Police released few details about the youth, but said he attended a Howard County high school.
Officials made the arrest based on tips. They would not disclose details, saying the information might help identify the tipsters, said Sgt. Morris Carroll, a county police spokesman. Pfc. Paul S. Fiscella led the investigation.
"The person who gave us the most information wants nothing to do with the reward," Carroll said.
Police said McKissic, of the 6000 block of Major's Lane in Long Reach village, was making a right turn from Dobbin Road to Oakland Mills Road in Owen Brown village when she was struck. Her window was open.
The pyramid-shaped rock struck her in the face. Police recovered most of the rock inher van.
Her children, Danielle Fortune, 13, and Derrick Fortune, 12, took control of the van while McKissic remained in the driver's seat. She was rushed to Howard County General Hospital and underwent an 11- hour brain operation several days later.
McKissic had several broken bones in her face, was blinded in her right eye and partially blinded in her left eye. Doctors do not know whether her injuries are permanent. She was released yesterday from Mariner Health of Greater Laurel, where she underwent rehabilitation.
McKissic's mother, Alexia McKissic, said she was "shocked" to learn about the arrest, explaining she did not expect it so soon.
"I didn't have anything to give [police]," McKissic said. "Lynn didn't have anything to give them. The kids didn't have anything to give them. I felt sorry for the police."
She said she and her family have received more than 100 telephone calls, flowers, balloons, cards and gifts from community members who heard about the incident.
"Some of them are perfect strangers," she said. "My phone has not stopped ringing."
Among those was Matthew Gibmeyer, Lynn McKissic's employer, who offered $500 of the reward. Gibmeyer hired her to deliver newspapers.
"I just finished making 500 fliers," Gibmeyer said yesterday. He said he is pleased police have apprehended a suspect.
Alexia McKissic said she had mixed feelings about what kind of punishment a 15-year-old should receive if found guilty.
"I feel sorry for him if he didn't know he hurt someone -- but he did," she said. "If one of my grandchildren did this, I would want to see them punished severely."
Gibmeyer established a Lynn McKissic Contribution Fund to help pay for her living and medical expenses.
Donations can be mailed to the fund in care of Matthew Gibmeyer, P.O. Box 2787, Columbia 21045.
Pub Date: 9/10/99