Police dog captures boy suspected of threatening other teen-agers with gun; 16-year-old hid in woods near Routes 140 and 91


A 16-year-old Finksburg boy was arrested and charged as a juvenile with second-degree assault late Thursday after he was apprehended in thick woods off Routes 140 and 91 by Ajax, a state police dog, authorities said yesterday.

The boy, who was not identified because of his age, was taken to Carroll County General Hospital and treated for a dog bite to his leg before being processed, said 1st Sgt. Eric Danz, a state police spokesman at the Westminster barracks.

Troopers responded at 5: 50 p.m. Thursday to a complaint about a man with a gun in the 2800 block of Cedarhurst Road, according to Danz. The complaint came from several teen-agers.

"The kids said the suspect had pointed a long-barreled shotgun at them when they saw him taking a wheelbarrow from a back yard," Danz said.

Troopers, including a police dog unit, happened to be directing traffic nearby at Routes 140 and 91 because of a storm-related traffic signal outage, Danz said.

"They were on the scene very quickly because Cedarhurst Road is only about a block away," he said.

Additional troopers, including Danz, raced from the barracks in Westminster and sealed off the area before troopers John Carhardt and Scott Angstadt and their dogs, Ajax and Celo, began a search, starting at the wheelbarrow.

The dogs followed a scent down a trail to a creek, Angstadt said.

"That's when we heard two gunshots," Angstadt said. "I can't say they were fired at us, but we took cover."

Splitting up, the troopers and their dogs continued the search, and Ajax soon found the suspect hiding under a large log, Angstadt said.

Ajax (pronounced "eye-axe,") did what he was trained to do, the trooper said.

"Our dogs are trained to apprehend a suspect by biting and holding until called off by the handler," Angstadt said. "They don't bite multiple times in multiple areas," he said. "They bite and hold. If a suspect shakes free of the dog, or knocks the dog away, the dog will continue attacking."

When a dog is called off an attack, it can go into a guarding mode, barking and intimidating the suspect so he will not flee, or it can be given another command calling it back to the handler, Angstadt said.

A search of the area late Thursday and early Friday failed to find any weapon, Danz said. Remnants of a bottle rocket were found and could account for the sounds the troopers heard, Danz said.

Clarence "Buddy" Beall, an assistant state's attorney, said the assault charge was filed against the teen-ager after a preliminary investigation.

"He might have been playing a prank, trying to scare the other kids," Beall said.

Not finding a weapon would not preclude prosecution for assault, Beall said.

"If it is a prank, it's pretty scary in light of the number of shooting rampages across the country," he said. "Maybe he was doing it for kicks, but police and those of us who deal with these situations have to treat it like a real threat."

The juvenile was released to one of his parents, Beall said.

"If the investigation shows this incident was not a prank and something more serious, the boy could be charged as an adult," he said.

Pub Date: 9/19/99

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