05/31/2007

Maryland state trooper nearly shot by passenger who disarmed him

The Associated Press   

CUMBERLAND, Md.  — A Maryland state trooper was disarmed and nearly shot by a Pennsylvania man he had picked up along Interstate 68 while driving his squad car home from work, police said.

Jeffrey A. Burns, 25, of Ellwood City, Pa., rode peacefully in the passenger seat for about six miles early Sunday morning and then started punching Trooper Christopher Toey in the face and grabbed his pistol, Trooper Mitch Staily told the Cumberland Times-News.

During the ensuing struggle, Burns fired the weapon into the seat next to Toey's leg, Sgt. C.E. Brehm said.

Toey then drove onto the highway shoulder, where Burns got out and ran into a wooded area, police said. Toey and a backup trooper found him and took him into custody.

Burns remained at the Allegany County jail Tuesday with bond set at $500,000. He is charged with first- and second-degree assault and attempting to disarm an officer.

Toey, who works at the Westminster barracks, followed standard procedures by removing a pedestrian from the interstate and placing him in the front seat of the cruiser after checking for outstanding warrants and finding none, Brehm said. He said Toey had offered to drive Burns to Cumberland, 17 miles west of the pickup point.

"He was trying to be a nice guy and give him a ride," Brehm said.

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