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Md. troopers have killed 4 in 2 years

March 08, 2008|By DAN DEARTH and ERIN JULIUS

CLEAR SPRING - Maryland State Police on Friday identified Randall Charles Sipes, 27, of Warfordsburg, Pa., as the man shot and killed Thursday by a trooper after he allegedly pulled a loaded handgun during a traffic stop on U.S. 40 near Indian Springs Road.

Sipes' death was at least the fourth fatality in which Maryland troopers were involved in the past two years, police said.

Sipes was wanted in both Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Washington County District Judge Mark Thomas issued bench warrants for Sipes in January 2007 and February 2007 in separate cases, court records show. Both cases involved driving under the influence and other traffic-related charges.

One of the cases was handled by Maryland State Police.

The bench warrants were issued because Sipes failed to appear in court for a scheduled hearing, court records show.

In Fulton County (Pa.) Court, Sipes pleaded guilty in connection with an April 27, 2007, accident involving an attended vehicle or property.

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He was awaiting sentencing after having pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery and four counts of theft stemming from a 2004 incident.

Sipes was pronounced dead Thursday at Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, according to a press release from the state police.

His name was withheld from public release until police could make a positive identification, Maryland State Police Sgt. Arthur Betts said Friday morning.

Sipes and his passenger, Christine M. Younker, 47, also of Warfordsburg, were pulled over for speeding in a 1997 Saturn at about 2:30 p.m. on eastbound U.S. 40, about four miles west of Clear Spring, Betts said. After Trooper 1st Class Christopher Barnard ran a check on Sipes' driver's license and registration, it was discovered Sipes was wanted on warrants.

Following Maryland State Police protocol, Barnard called for backup, Betts said. Cpl. Todd Weaver arrived shortly thereafter. As they approached the car, Weaver saw Sipes draw a semi-automatic pistol, Betts said.

Weaver fired at Sipes from just outside the rear of the car on the driver's side, Betts said. State police did not confirm the number of shots that were fired.

Both troopers were to be placed on routine administrative leave.

Younker, who was outside of the car, was not injured, Betts said.

Investigators were unsure of the relationship between Younker and Sipes, but Younker told investigators she was a friend of Sipes, Greg Shipley, director of communications for state police, said Friday afternoon.

The troopers performed first aid until an ambulance arrived to take Sipes to the hospital, Betts said. Sipes was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at the hospital.

Maryland state troopers last were involved in fatalities in April 2007, December 2006 and November 2006.

· On April 15, 2007, a trooper shot a Delaware man who tried to run down the trooper during a traffic stop in Cecil County, Md. The man died the next day, according to new releases.

· In December 2006, in Woodlawn, Md., a trooper fatally shot a Baltimore man. The man had fired on police and wounded a state trooper who attempted to arrest him, according to a news release.

· In November 2006, a Carroll County man was fatally injured in the Finksburg, Md., area when he ran into the path of a trooper on his way to back up another trooper on a burglary call, according to a news release.

Staff writer Jennifer Fitch contributed to this story.

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