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3 troopers honored

April 21, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Responding to a 911 call for a man possibly threatening suicide in Funkstown on Feb. 9, 1999, Maryland State Police Trooper First Class Rob Embly learned there was a gun hidden in the man's waistband.

As Embly made the universal hand sign for a gun, the man was tackled from behind by Trooper First Class Wayne Smith who knew the domestic situation could turn deadly.

"Sgt. Louis Mastiano was standing right in front of the man with no knowledge of the weapon," Smith said.

The three veteran troopers took the man into custody without injury to anyone in the Poplar Street incident.

For their efforts, the troopers were awarded superintendent's citations Thursday at ceremonies in Pikesville.

"They did an outstanding job that night, saving that man and possibly his wife from injury," said Lt. Bruce Smith, commander of the Hagerstown barrack. "I'm very proud of the job they did."

Smith said the man was outside talking with a woman when police arrived around 9:50 p.m.


"I was approaching from the rear ... Sgt. Mastiano was talking to the man when Embly signaled me about the gun," Smith said.

When Smith got about 10 feet away, the man turned and made a move. Smith charged and took him to the ground.

"I wheeled him around. Sgt. Mastiano saw the gun, reached out and got it," Smith said.

A check of the gun later revealed it was loaded.

Mastiano, a 28-year veteran, said he knew something was up because of the man's position and his body language.

"I had a gut feeling. ... I knew I had to be ready," Mastiano said.

Smith said he, Mastiano and Embly were all recommended for a governor's citation but didn't get it.

"We were all scratching our heads," Smith said, a 17-year veteran of the state police.

The incident resulted in weapons charges against a 35-year-old man. On April 1, 1999, he was given a six-month suspended jail sentence in Washington County District Court for the handgun offense, court records showed.

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