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Trooper honored for role in capture

Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class D.W. Smith was the first on the scene when the Washington, D.C.-area sniper suspects we

Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class D.W. Smith was the first on the scene when the Washington, D.C.-area sniper suspects we

November 05, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Carolyn Smith said she doesn't know half of the things her son is doing until after they're all over.

"It's better that way," said the mother of the first law enforcement officer on the scene Oct. 24 when two sniper suspects linked to 10 shooting deaths in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., were taken into custody at a highway rest stop off Interstate 70 near the Myersville, Md., exit.

Members of the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. on Monday night honored Carolyn and Steve Smith's son - Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class D.W. Smith, who is also a 22-year member of the fire company.

"I don't feel I did anything extraordinary that day," Smith said. "We were all just there to do our jobs."

That morning, Smith's job went from routine patrol to the forefront of a nationwide manhunt when he was tapped to respond to the westbound I-70 rest area at the Washington/Frederick county line where the car of John Muhammad, 41, and John Malvo, 17, was spotted.

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He positioned himself at the exit, standing alone with a shotgun outside his cruiser in case the occupants of the car tried to leave.

Smith and other police officers remained at the scene well into the daylight hours after the two men were taken into custody.

Fire Company President Glenn Fishack said he wasn't surprised that Smith was at the right place at the right time.

"Wayne made the national news that day," Fishack said. "People need to know that police and fire personnel all have serious jobs to do."

Unwrapping a plaque from all the members of the fire company, Fishack said it was agreed that Smith needed to be recognized for his outstanding dedication that day.

"I'm sure when you were up there by yourself, a lot was going through your mind," Fishack said. "But you did your job."

State Police Barrack Commander Lt. Greg Johnston said he was impressed with the community of Smithsburg that honored Smith. "And we, too, are very proud of Wayne at the barrack," he said.

Smithsburg Fire Chief Ronnie Jeter said he appreciates Smith keeping his eye out for the community.

"He's been a big help to me here," said former state police colleague and now Smithsburg Police Chief Mike Potter. "I can always count on him."

Several of Smith's current colleagues turned out Monday when they learned of the tribute.

Cpl. Greg Spickler said he has worked with Smith for 20 years.

"I am proud to be his supervisor and his friend," Spickler said.

Somewhat uncomfortable with all the attention he has received lately, Smith said he was glad to be able to serve the community in which he grew up.

"I'm probably one of the luckiest people in the world," Smith said. "Few people get to do what they have always dreamed of doing."

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