Baltimore Co. officer fatally shoots man who attacked him with sword

By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

9:51 PM EDT, July 13, 2012

A Baltimore County police officer shot and killed the sword-wielding uncle of an attempted-murder suspect Thursday, authorities said, in a bizarre end to a case that began when a teen was found in a Howard County field last month with a gunshot wound to the head.

Police said the man, Ronald Melvin Cox, 48, swung a large sword at tactical officers as they entered an upstairs bedroom in his home in the 400 block of Highmeadow Road in Reisterstown. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators revealed little about the circumstances surrounding the encounter, which came as police executed a search warrant, including whether people in the home were notified before officers entered. Two people were arrested at Cox’s home, but police couldn’t say whether that took place before or after the police shooting.

The officer who shot Cox, a 17-year veteran, has been placed on administrative leave, which is routine in police-involved shootings; no further information was available, and the officer was not identified.

Three people were charged with attempted murder in the case of Sterling Watts, found June 19 in a field by a nearby resident in Marriottsville.

Laura Christian Karr, 24, who was Cox’s niece and lived at his home, and Donald George Peoples Jr., 21, of the 4200 block of Saint Georges Ave. in Baltimore were arrested at the home. Chiquita Sketers, 21, of Randallstown was arrested without incident about 2 p.m. Friday at her home in the 3400 block of Carriage Hill Circle in Randallstown.

Cox was not a suspect in Watts’ shooting, according to police spokeswoman Cathy Batton.

According to Howard County police, Peoples and Karr abducted Watts as he walked near his home and forced him into a car. Police believe the couple then stopped in Randallstown to pick up Sketers, who had a long-barrel rifle loaded with ammunition. Sketers told Watts he was going to die, police said.

The suspects drove to the field and ordered Watts out of the car at gunpoint. Peoples is accused of shooting him in the back of the head as he walked away.

After interviews with Watts and an anonymous tip, detectives identified Peoples and Karr as suspects, and Karr’s silver 2012 Mazda as the vehicle involved in the kidnapping.

Police said witnesses identified a couple matching Peoples’ and Karr’s descriptions driving a silver car and selling drugs in a Reisterstown neighborhood. The witnesses told police that the couple selling drugs had been robbed earlier that day.

The warrants in the case were issued in Howard County and executed by Baltimore County officers.

No one answered the door Friday at the residence on Highmeadow Road. A few cars sat in the driveway of the brick-and-vinyl-siding house.

While the winding street was quiet, a few neighbors said they had been awakened by the activity outside after the shooting.

Chris Kauffman, 27, who lives nearby, said he slept through the shooting and was shocked to see all the commotion when he went to walk his dog about 5 a.m.

“I’ve never felt threatened here. Everyone was surprised because this is such a quiet street,” said Kauffman, the service manager for his father’s business, Baltimore Hydraulics.

Batton said police announced themselves before the shooting to make clear to any occupants that they were in the home. “They were identifying themselves as police officers and began moving throughout the house,” she said. Batton.

Karr and Peoples face charges from February for allegedly concealing a dangerous weapon and for possession of marijuana, according to court records. Peoples also faces burglary and second-degree assault charges from another incident in December.

Both are being held in the Howard County Detention Center. Sketers was to be taken to the same facility.

Batton said the shooting was the second involving a Baltimore County police officer this year.

It came a month after Christopher Brown, a 17-year-old Randallstown High School student, died in an altercation with off-duty Officer James D. Laboard after a group of youths threw a rock at the front door of the officer’s home.

The state medical examiner ruled Brown’s killing a homicide by asphyxiation. Laboard has been charged with two counts of manslaughter, one involuntary.

Baltimore Sun reporters Ed Gunts, Justin Fenton, Jean Marbella, Colin Campbell and Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.

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