Maryland trooper accidentally shoots himself

February 24, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

A Maryland State Police trooper was in stable condition at Washington County Hospital Thursday after he accidentally shot himself in the hand at a Wendy's restaurant parking lot in Hagerstown.

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State police spokesman Lt. Joseph A. Barker Jr. said the incident occurred at the Wendy's on Md. 65 near the Hagerstown barracks at around 2 p.m.

Trooper 1st Class Robert W. Cuthbertson, 32, of the McHenry Barracks in Garrett County, Md., was traveling through Washington County after completing a training session in Pikesville, Md., said Barker.

Cuthbertson stopped at the restaurant to have lunch and locked his .40-caliber Beretta in the cruiser.

Barker said Cuthbertson was not in uniform and didn't want to take his weapon into Wendy's because it might have alarmed patrons who didn't know he was a police officer.


When Cuthbertson returned to his cruiser, he started the engine and was preparing to drive away when the gun discharged.

Barker said Cuthbertson, who was shot through the right palm, was taken to the hospital by ambulance. His injuries were not considered life-threatening, he said.

Cuthbertson underwent surgery on his hand Thursday evening. Doctors said they were optimistic about his condition because the wound to his hand was not as severe as earlier thought, police said.

The Beretta does not have a safety lever according to Sgt. Robert Farrell of the McHenry Barracks.

Barker would not say whether any state police regulations were broken.

He said the state police Internal Affairs Unit, investigators from the Hagerstown barracks and the training division in Pikesville were investigating.

State police Sgt. Steve McCarty, of the Hagerstown barracks, said it doesn't take much pressure to pull the trigger of a Beretta. He said investigators were trying to determine whether the gun caught on the seat and discharged.

Cuthbertson is a nine-year veteran of the state police, said Barker.

Such incidents "are very rare," he said.

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