Century-old shooting of deputy probed

May 24, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

One Washington County Sheriff's Department officer has been hard at work in recent weeks researching the fatal shooting of an on-duty sheriff's deputy.

The case that Cpl. Daryl L. Sanders is looking into is nearly a century old.

Sanders has been piecing together information on the 1905 shooting of Deputy Thomas Hardy on a train traveling the B&O railroad route near Weverton along the line between Washington and Frederick counties. He said the research was begun after the department was told its belief that no one had been killed in the line of duty in the department's history was incorrect.

"I've worked here almost 20 years. Everyone has always been under the assumption that we were lucky, and no one was killed in the line of duty," Sanders said.


After research of sources, including published accounts, that thought was dashed.

According to a Daily Mail story from 1905, Hardy was shot through the left breast while pursuing a man on the freight train.

"They had information that a train burglar was riding from D.C. to this area," Sanders said.

Reports also said shootouts involving authorities and criminals often occurred on area trains. It was believed Hardy arrested the alleged shooter in a prior incident, he said.

Hardy, originally of Burkittsville, Md., worked as a B&O detective before joining the sheriff's department, according to reports.

Hardy was the father of four children - Edith, Bruce, George and Mary - at the time of his death, Sanders said.

Sanders said he hopes to locate one or more of Hardy's descendants because he would like to have them attend a memorial ceremony for Hardy. Sanders said the department is planning an event for next year to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of his death.

In addition to looking for descendants, Sanders is trying to find records indicating the disposition of the Frederick County court proceedings against John T. Colson, a Kentucky man charged in the shooting. Sanders said he plans to travel to Annapolis, where records on that case are stored.

Sanders said the research has become more time-consuming than he anticipated. Still, Sanders said that as a longtime member of the department, he is enjoying the work and wants to make sure any ceremony honoring a fallen officer is not "put together sloppily."

"The history of this department means a lot to me because I plan on being here for 30 years," he said.

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