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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Suspect Hospitalized, Under Police Guard Following Officer Involved Shooting in Hurlock

HURLOCK, Md.- Maryland State Police say a suspect is being treated for what is believed to be a non-life threatening injury while under police guard at a Salisbury hospital.

According to police, the suspect's injuries resulted from being shot by a police officer after assaulting two officers and then driving his vehicle at one of them early Saturday morning in Dorchester County. Police say Leon J. Spry, 35, of Preston, Md. sustained a gunshot wound to the upper torso. Criminal charges are pending against Spry, as he remains under State Police guard at the Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

Maryland State Police have identified the officers involved as Officer Frank Schmidt and Officer Kyle Willey of the Hurlock Police Department. The incident is under investigation by MSP.

According to the preliminary investigation, Officer Willey and Officer Schmidt were dispatched to the area of North Main Street and Academy Street in Hurlock just before midnight Friday, for a report of possible gunshots. Upon arrival, the officers saw a running pickup truck with an open driver's door parked in the roadway in front of 201 Academy St.

MSP say a witness told the officers someone had been knocking on his door shortly before they arrived. The preliminary investigation reveals the officers then heard a loud noise coming from the common area of the apartment building at that location. After entering the building in full uniform, the officers discovered Spry slumped over inside the door. MSP say the officers attempted to talk with Spry, who was argumentative and exhibiting signs of being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

According to MSP, Spry then abruptly ran from the officers, entering the parked pickup truck. At that point, the officers ran after Spry and were unsuccessful at extracting him from the truck. The investigation reveals Spry ignored repeated verbal commands to surrender, instead swinging his arms and repeatedly striking the officers as he attempted to drive away.

MSP say that during the course of the altercation, Spry grabbed Officer Schmidt's arm and accelerated the truck forward, causing both officers to be caught and dragged by the vehicle. Spry then continued to accelerate forward, crashing into and disabling one of the patrol cars.

According to the preliminary investigation, officers were then able to disengage from the vehicle, at which time Spry backed his truck away from the patrol car and then accelerated directly at Officer Schmidt, who was in front of the truck.
The MSP investigation reveals that, in fear of his life, Officer Schmidt responded by firing his pistol at the suspect. The investigation further reveals that, fearing for the life of Officer Schmidt, Officer Willey also fired his pistol at Spry, who then accelerated away in the truck, fleeing the scene.

MSP say Officer Schmidt was not injured in the incident, although Officer Willey did sustain a minor injury that did not require hospitalization.

According to MSP, a Dorchester County Sheriff's Office deputy arrived to assist the officers. The deputy received a call regarding a crash on Route 307, about two miles north of Hurlock, while in the process of collecting information from Officer Schmidt and Officer Willey. MSP say the three of them responded to the call, finding Spry's truck had gone off the road and struck a pole. Spry was then transported to the hospital.

At this point, investigators do not believe the initial reports of loud noises in the area were gunshots. It is unclear at this time why Spry was in the apartment building, although investigators say they believe he may know at least one person who lives there.

The Dorchester County State's Attorney has been consulted and advised of the case information so far. Once the investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to the State's Attorney for review.   

Both Officer Schmidt and Officer Willey have been placed on routine administrative leave as the investigation continues.

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