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Mad cow deceased

February 25, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer

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Escaped Cow killed

A Holstein rampaged through several Hagerstown neighborhoods Wednesday afternoon, taking out a chain link fence and knocking down a woman, before being shot by a police sniper.

The unidentified woman, a resident of Ravenwood Lutheran Village who is in her 80s, was taken to Washington County Hospital after complaining of pain in her hip, according to ambulance officials.

Marked to be sold for slaughter, the large black and white dairy cow escaped through a chute at the front of Four States' Livestock Sales on East First Street shortly after its West Virginia owner unloaded her around 3 p.m., said Jim Starliper, owner of the auction house.

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"I guess she was nervous when she was unloaded," he said.

From there, the bovine bolted through yards and reached Wilson Boulevard, where she was spotted near Minnich Funeral Home.

By then Starliper had formed a search team, made up of auction employees and farmers. The searchers set out in a convoy of pickup trucks hooked to cattle carts to pursue the animal.

Hagerstown City Police also were called.

The cow managed to elude its pursuers for more than an hour, making its way through the residential neighborhood in the Kenwood Drive and Kenly Avenue area.

The cow continued south on Kenly Avenue to Ravenwood Lutheran Village off Luther Drive, where it tore through about 15 feet of fence and knocked the woman to the ground, according to police and members of the search team.

The cow circled back to Kenly Avenue, crossed over heavily traveled Frederick Street, turned left past a sign that reads Home of Hagerstown Youth League, and ran down a grassy hill to an opening in a chain link fence.

Police and the search team caught up with the cow at the baseball field.

Members of the search team guarded openings in the fence to prevent the cow's escape as they considered what to do.

By then, the cow was too worked up to be roped or put down by a tranquilizer dart, Starliper said.

"She can't be handled now," he said, watching the animal paw the muddy ground with its hooves and charge at his employees standing behind the fence.

Hagerstown Police Sgt. Jack Hall and Hagerstown Police Special Response Team member Michael King pulled up in a patrol car.

As King walked close to the fence to assess the situation, the cow charged him. King walked back to the patrol car, opened the trunk, and began assembling a .308 caliber police sniper rifle.

With rifle in hand, King walked down Frederick Street, but the cow saw him and headed toward an opening in the fence.

"If she comes through that fence, you shoot her," Hall yelled down to King.

King stopped and waited as Starliper tied a calf to a post to distract the cow while King positioned himself.

Meanwhile, Hall called in extra patrol units to stop traffic on both ends of Frederick Street and to make sure people were cleared from the line of fire.

Spread out flat on the ground, King took a shot, which struck the animal below the ear and knocked it to the ground. King moved in closer and fired a second shot, killing the cow.

"That's a doggone shame," Hall said, looking on.

King said it was the first cow he's shot.

Starliper called Valley Proteins Inc. of Greencastle, Pa., to haul away the carcass for processing.

"For the amount of animals we handle, a mistake is going to be made once in awhile," he said.

Between 400 and 500 animals are sold at Four States' Livestock Sales every Wednesday.

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