Baltimore County officer charged after standoff in Harford

Stratton Court in Bel Air South returns to normal after Thursday standoff, shooting

The Harford County sheriff's office issued an arrest warrant Friday for a Baltimore County police officer who was shot during an armed standoff near Bel Air.

James Ward, 42, is facing multiple counts of attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault, the sheriff's office said.

Ward, a 19-year veteran with the Baltimore County Police Department assigned to the White Marsh precinct, was suspended Friday without pay pending trial, according to county police spokeswoman Elise Armacost.

He was shot and wounded Thursday by sheriff's deputies after he fired several rounds at them at a home in the Bright Oaks community off Route 924, according to sheriff's office spokeswoman Cristie Kahler.

He remained hospitalized Friday with what police described as serious injuries that were not life-threatening. He was off duty at the time of the shooting.

Harford officials said they had responded to the neighborhood about 12:10 p.m. for reports of a suicidal man who had been drinking, with shots fired inside the house, Kahler said.

The sheriff's office used social media and telephone calls to tell residents to stay in their homes while deputies engaged Ward over a megaphone, asking him to put down his gun and surrender, authorities said.

About 2:40 p.m., Ward fired from inside the house toward deputies taking cover at a tactical vehicle, the sheriff's office said. Deputies returned fire, hitting Ward. He then came outside and was arrested.

Deputies knew Ward was a police officer, based on information provided from dispatchers, Kahler said. They fired twice at Ward, who suffered injuries to his hands and arms, she said.

According to online court records, James Lawrence Ward of the Stratton Court address was involved in a divorce judgment proceeding this month.

Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson expressed shock Thursday at the incident and said the department hopes Ward "receives the medical help he apparently needs so desperately."

Armacost said in an email that the county Police Department has "an excellent employee assistance program for employees who need help with mental health and other personal issues." She said the department also trains supervisors to identify and work with employees who show signs of stress, family problems, psychological problems and other issues.

On Friday, residents were out walking their dogs on Stratton Court and generally praising response by law enforcement officers during the incident.

"The sheriff's office did a wonderful job," said Bernie Jubb, a 28-year resident of the court. "They didn't make everyone in the neighborhood panic."

Todd Hartman of Edgewood, who was doing landscaping work at Jubb's house, said "you didn't have time to think" during the incident. Hartman said he heard the exchange of gunfire between Ward and the deputies.

"Once we heard the pop, pop, pop [of shots], we took off," he said.

Hartman and Kathy Mack, a resident of Bright Oaks Drive across the street from Stratton Court, said they saw a woman run from the home, talking on a phone. Hartman said the woman ran from the cul-de-sac toward Bright Oaks Drive, and a sheriff's deputy wearing body armor and carrying a weapon came up the street a few minutes later.

Mack, whose son-in-law works for the Baltimore Police Department, said the sheriff's office did a good job maintaining contact with neighbors and asking them to stay in their houses.

"They kept calling on the phone and telling us what to do," she said.

"I hope the gentleman will be OK," she said. "It's a shame that he is a police officer, and that makes it even worse."

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.

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