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Manhunt in Sharpsburg ends with no sign of man wanted in illegal firearms investigation

November 30, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Agents from the FBI SWAT Team from Baltimore exit the Washington County Special Response Team's armored vehicle at the intersection of Burnside Bridge Road and Mills Road Thursday afternoon.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG — A massive hunt for a man as part of an investigation for illegal possession of firearms in the Mills Road area south of Sharpsburg ended Thursday night when a Maryland State Police spokesman said there was no sign of the man after police had staked out the man’s home looking for him.

As of 9:30 a.m. Friday, there was no activity at the man's home in the 4400 block of Mills Road.

Police had surrounded the man’s home and other officers were inside the home after they executed a search warrant at the home Thursday afternoon, according to state police spokesman Greg Shipley.

When troopers entered the one-story home during the roughly seven-hour ordeal, they found several long guns, Shipley said.

Troopers believed the 46-year-old man was in the home, but the man did not answer the door and did not make himself known to troopers who entered the home, Shipley said.

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Shipley said at the scene that he believed the man might have been in the basement of the house.

Shipley said he didn’t know if troopers tried to call out for the man while they waited inside during the afternoon.

At about 7 p.m., Shipley announced there was no sign of the man and that police would be leaving the area within about an hour after taking some guns from the house.

Shipley said he did not know if troopers finally moved around in the house and were able to determine if the man was not there.

“We want to work this out and resolve it peacefully,” Shipley said in an interview before investigators decided to leave the house.

Shipley said an investigation into the case will continue.

Negotiators were at the scene in an attempt to make contact with the man, state police said. The man is married and has children, but only the man was believed to be in the home when it was searched, state police said.

Just after noon Thursday, state police investigators from the agency’s firearms enforcement unit in Columbia, Md., executed the search warrant at the house, according to a state police news release. Those officers were assisted by a state police special tactical assault team, the release said.

Dozens of police eventually responded to the scene and they initially went to a camping area off Burnside Bridge Road just south of Sharpsburg, where they gathered equipment including rifles and handguns and donned special turnout gear. Two special response vehicles were parked in a parking lot at the camping area with dozens of other cruisers, and a Maryland State Police helicopter was in a field next to the parking lot.

After the house search, police started moving down Burnside Bridge Road to the intersection of Mills Road, which was blocked off during the afternoon.

At one point, a large excavator was brought to the scene, but Shipley said he did not know what that was for.

Doug Bigelow, who lives in the area, said the man who lives in the house that was searched was a friend.

Surprised at what was going on, Bigelow said he always found his friend to live his life on the “straight and narrow.” Bigelow said he would feel safe leaving his kids with the man.

When asked what he thought of the situation that unfolded Thursday, Bigelow said, “I think it’s pretty ridiculous.”

Some students were held at Sharpsburg Elementary, Boonsboro Middle and Boonsboro High schools for a short while at the end of the school day because they lived in the Mills Road area, school system spokesman Richard Wright said. The students’ parents or legal guardians were notified and arrangements were made for those students to be picked up or to get a ride home, he said.

Staff writer Julie Greene contributed to this story.

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