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Neighbors react following standoff on Dual Highway

June 13, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Investigators are shown at the scene on Dual Highway only hours after a man involved in a 7-hour standoff with police Friday was apprehended.
By Chris Tilley, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Neighbors of the Hagerstown woman found shot in the head Friday during a seven-hour standoff between a gunman and police on Dual Highway said she had not lived in the home very long.

Other than an occasional wave or “hello” between neighbors, she kept mostly to herself.

Heather W. Harris of 1606 Dual Highway was pulled from her house Friday evening by police after sustaining life-threatening injuries, police said. She was taken to Meritus Medical Center, where she remained in critical condition Monday morning, a hospital representative said.

Randy Houston McPeak, 43, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., the ex-boyfriend of Harris, held police in the armed standoff at the house. He was taken to the Washington County Detention Center Friday night after he surrendered to police outside the home on Dual Highway.

He was charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, first- and second-degree assault, burglary, false imprisonment and other charges, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Detective Casey Barnes with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said there were no updates on the investigation Sunday.

To neighbors, Harris was known as one of the new faces on the block, a polite woman who had numerous large dogs.

Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said Harris lived in the home with her mother, whose name was not released.  

Mullendore said there were three dogs in the house at the time of the incident.

A neighbor who asked not to be named out of concern for her safety, said Harris and her mother had not been in the neighborhood for more than a few months.

“I would just wave when I saw either of them,” the woman said.

Eugene Blue, who has lived in the house next to Harris’ for two years, said he did not know Harris or her mother by name.

The extent of his interaction with either was to say “hi” or “bye” and wave, he said.

For neighbors, the incident Friday was tense, difficult and at times boring, they said.  

Some, like Blue and Amber Carroll, were unable to go home and waited nearby for hours.

“It’s been a long couple of days,” said Carroll, who said she and her family moved into their house, a few doors down from Harris’, about three weeks ago.

Neighbors who remained in their houses said that police told them to stay inside, turn off lights and take shelter in basements or the centers of their homes.

When McPeak surrendered to police, everyone on the hill near the convenience store and all the police broke into applause, Carroll said.

“We could go home,” she said.
Despite the intensity that rocked their neighborhood Friday, some residents said they do not feel the area is unsafe.

“It sounded like a domestic thing,” said Blue, who lives in the neighborhood with his wife and child. “Plus, I’m from a bigger city and we have that monster (a Great Dane) you just met, so I’m not too concerned.”

Carroll also said she is not fearful about staying in her house because those responsible for Friday’s incident are gone.

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