Two teenagers were wounded yesterday by a shot apparently fired accidentally by a Howard County police officer during an investigation of suspected drug activity in a Jessup neighborhood, police said.
A 14-year-old boy who was shot in the torso was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, and a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the arm was taken to Howard County General Hospital, police said.
Police did not release the names of either youth last night, and their medical conditions were not immediately available. Police said neither injury was believed to be life-threatening.
Sherry Llewellyn, a spokeswoman for Howard County police, said the shooting occurred at 5:19 p.m. at Pleasant Chase Road and Summit Hill Way as undercover officers were conducting surveillance of the area because of suspected drug activity.
The shooting occurred outside at the end of a row of townhouses on Summit Hill Way, part of the well-kept Pleasant Chase neighborhood, a mix of townhouses and single-family homes. The Pleasant Chase Playground is a block from the scene.
The undercover officers thought they saw a drug deal taking place in a car, Llewellyn said. She said she didn't know how many officers were involved.
An interaction with the youths ensued, and the officer's gun discharged, Llewellyn said.
She didn't say where the youths were when they were struck, but she thought the teen with the arm injury was hit first and that the same bullet hit the other teen in the torso. She said she thought the arm wound was minor.
Llewellyn said illegal drugs were recovered at the scene but did not say whether police suspect that the wounded youths were buying or selling them.
Police are continuing to investigate the shooting, and Llewellyn said the details she released last night were preliminary.
After the victims were taken to hospitals, about 20 residents, adults and children, remained to watch police take photos of the scene. A grassy area at the end of the Summit Hill townhouses and part of a sidewalk were cordoned off with police tape. Patrol cars and unmarked police cars lined both sides of nearby Pleasant Chase Road.
In a phone interview last night, Jacqueline Mason said she heard the gunshot from her home in the 8300 block of W. Summit Hill. Mason said she rushed to her window and saw one of the teens lying on the ground. She said she called 911, and that paramedics arrived at the scene soon after.
"He was there on the ground with another young man near," said Mason, who said she watched as officers applied pressure to the boy's torso.
Mason, who said she has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years, described it as quiet.
"This is not a drug-ridden neighborhood. It's not a crime-ridden neighborhood," she said. "I've been in this neighborhood since it's been built, and I haven't had any problems here.
"You may get some loud noise every now and then. Very seldom do you get that. This has just totally blown me away," she said.
Christopher Eddins, who also lives in the 8300 block of W. Summit Hill, said he has lived at his residence about seven years and has never felt unsafe.
Eddins said he arrived home yesterday and saw "a lot of commotion. But it seems like it's an anomaly more than anything else."