Wounded woman found, husband charged in shooting

A man suspected of shooting his wife Monday in Darlington - and accused of threatening another man with the same gun - was found by police Thursday night in Havre de Grace, along with the wounded woman.

William James Mitchell, 23, has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and two counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony. All the charges stem from the alleged threatening. He was being held without bail Friday at the Harford County Detention Center.

Mitchell was apprehended when someone saw him walking in the 900 block of Erie St. in Havre de Grace shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday and called police.

Police later found Mitchell's wife, Tesheka L. Smythe, 26, in the front yard of a home in the 800 block of Garfield Court in Havre de Grace. She had been shot twice - once in the arm and once in the leg - and had bandages on her wounds, police said. Edward Hopkins, a spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, said Smythe was not being held against her will.

Smythe was taken to Harford Memorial Hospital for treatment. She was being held Friday at the Harford County Detention Center without bail on multiple outstanding warrants, Hopkins said.

According to the warrant for Mitchell's arrest, the couple showed up at a friend's home off Darlington Road about 2 a.m. Monday. Shortly afterward, the couple began arguing, and Mitchell shot Smythe, police said. Mitchell also is accused of pointing a gun at the friend, Timothy Bishop, and pulling the trigger. The gun failed to discharge, police said.

Bishop fled the home and when he returned, Mitchell and Smythe were gone.

Mitchell was seen about 3:15 a.m. Monday, driving his father's 1992 Geo Storm with the headlights off, police said. Driving west on U.S. 40 from Cecil County, he eluded police after a high-speed chase.

On Thursday, police discovered the Geo stuck in mud in front of the Garfield Court residence where Smythe was found.

Detonation at Aberdeen prompts calls to 911

An explosion heard Tuesday night in parts of Baltimore, Harford, Kent and Cecil counties - prompting dozens of calls to local police departments - came from the military's detonation of a charge at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The explosion proved "louder than we expected," said George Mercer, a spokesman for the military installation.

The 7:45 p.m. explosion in Harford County was heard as far away as Chestertown.

The noise also prompted calls to APG.

Panel says perchlorate in water less of a threat

A panel of scientists Monday concluded that perchlorate, a chemical left over from weapons manufacturing, is safe at levels about 20 times higher than the 1 part per billion that would be allowed under draft federal environmental regulations.

The report could influence whether the federal government and defense contractors are liable for expensive cleanups of drinking water contaminated with perchlorate, which was used in the production of rocket fuel and explosives during the Cold War.

The city of Aberdeen closed four municipal wells in April 2003 after perchlorate escaped into the water supply from the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, where explosives have been tested for decades. The highest level found in the groundwater at APG has been about 23 parts per billion.

After perchlorate contamination was found in wells near APG, the Maryland Department of the Environment issued a health advisory in 2002 saying that drinking water should have no more than 1 part per billion of perchlorate, the same level proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The latest report generated immediate criticism from environmentalists.

Police Academy offers program for citizens

The Harford County Sheriff's Office is offering Harford residents the opportunity to attend the annual Citizens Police Academy - a 14-week program designed to provide residents with a better understanding of the sheriff's office and its operations.

This year's academy, which is free, will be held every Thursday from March 3 through June 9. The academy is open to any Harford County resident 18 years old or older. Community groups, businesses and elected officials also are asked to nominate individuals to participate.

Enrollment is limited to 25 students. Closing date for applications is Feb. 24. For more information, contact the Sheriff's Office Training Academy at 410-638-3860.

SAIC expands space in Harford County

Science Applications International Corp. in Abingdon was recently awarded a Department of Defense contract to provide chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protection capability to 200 military installations.

SAIC has leased an additional 70,000 square feet of warehouse space in the Lakeside Business Park and hired more than 150 employees as it gears up to perform the work, county officials said.

"SAIC is helping the Army do its job to help protect our nation and the world. We appreciate the contribution great firms such as SAIC make to our homeland defense effort and the positive impact they have in our community," said Harford County Executive James M. Harkins.

Harford Enterprise Zone approved for expansion

The governor's office announced the renewal and expansion of the Edgewood/Joppa Harford County Enterprise Zone last week.

The zone, one of two in Harford County, was expanded by more than 1,000 acres primarily along Route 7. The zone, which is now nearly 3,600 acres, lies between Interstate 95 and U.S. 40 and includes three major commercial corridors along U.S. 40, Route 152 and Route 755. The second zone covers 7,500 acres in the Aberdeen-Havre de Grace area.

"Maryland's enterprise zones help us build enduring communities and a strong, stable economy. The zone designation helps to bring good-paying, family-supporting jobs and successful employers to more-established neighborhoods, empowering Maryland residents who live and work there," Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said in a statement announcing the action.

Credit union contributes to Empty Stocking Fund

Freedom Federal Credit Union's board of directors has contributed $500 to the Empty Stocking Fund charity. In addition, all Freedom branch locations have been donation drop-off points for the last several weeks. Food goods, toys and monetary donations were collected.

The Empty Stocking Fund is a nonprofit organization created to provide food, clothing, housing, utilities, medicine and toys for underprivileged residents throughout the year.

Council to review two executive appointments

Harford County Council members are expected to review two executive appointments to the Maryland Department of Social Services Advisory Board at the council's Tuesday session.

County Executive James M. Harkins nominated Melvin Madden of Abingdon as a new board member, while Valorie Leeb of Bel Air is seeking reappointment.

Upon council approval, Leeb and Madden will serve three-year terms expiring June 20, 2007.

Scholarships available from women's commission

The Harford County Commission for Women is accepting applications for the group's 2005 scholarship program. At least two $500 scholarships will be awarded to Harford County female high school students, along with college students in need of financial assistance for post-secondary education. Applications must be received by April 1.

Eight scholarships were awarded last year. Scholarship funds are raised through the commission's silent auction during the annual Women's History Month Luncheon. This year's luncheon is March 6 at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood.

To receive a scholarship application, obtain more information on the luncheon, or donate to the silent auction, contact HCCW Coordinator Tina McCarthy Potts at 410-638-3389.

Chesapeake Bay

NOAA to consider native oyster designation

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is reviewing a petition to recognize the Chesapeake Bay's native oysters as "threatened" or "endangered," designations that likely would halt or limit harvesting of the struggling bivalves.

The petition was filed by Dieter Busch, a consultant who formerly headed an arm of the 15-state Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a regulatory authority.

Busch acknowledged it's not likely that the native oyster, Crassostrea virginica, would meet the criteria to become an endangered species - a designation that deems an animal is on the verge of becoming extinct. Such a label would halt all harvesting of the oysters.

But he thinks bay oyster populations might be decimated enough to meet the criteria of a threatened species, a classification that would allow harvesting as long as it doesn't jeopardize the oysters' recovery.

Maryland's fishery managers and experts have been struggling for years to reverse the decline of the native oysters, which have been devastated by over-harvesting and disease. Progress has been made in localized areas of certain rivers and inlets, and on reserve reefs, where harvesting has been limited.

But harvests of the oysters, one of the strongest indicators of how populous they are, have declined. In the late 1800s, Maryland watermen pulled in more than 2 million bushels of healthy oysters annually. The catch is now at an all-time low. Last year's harvest was 26,000 bushels, and Maryland officials have deemed the fishery "virtually nonexistent."

NOAA officials said neither designation would block the introduction of Crassostrea ariakensis, the oyster native to China that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. wants to distribute in the bay. Millions of dollars worth of state and federal research is under way to ensure an introduction wouldn't bring diseases or crowd out what is left of the native oysters.

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