Deputies fired 18 rounds at Mount Airy man killed in shootout -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated on Jan. 15, 2013.

Two sheriff’s deputies serving a search warrant fired 18 rounds in the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old Mount Airy man last week after he refused to drop a shotgun, according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

Daniel Vail pointed a shotgun at officers when they entered an apartment in the 4800 block of Westwind Drive around 1 a.m. on Thursday, the sheriff’s office said in a series of news releases.

The veteran deputies were members of the sheriff’s office Special Service Team which had been requested by the Howard County Police Department to assist in serving the high-risk search warrant on the Mount Airy apartment, the sheriff’s office said.

Officers entered the two-bedroom apartment using a “flash bang” diversionary device and announced themselves repeatedly before finding Vail pointing the gun at them from a inside a bedroom, the sheriff’s office said.

After commanding Vail to drop the gun several times, Deputies 1st Class Charles Zang and Kevin Riffle opened fire, the sheriff’s office said. Vail was later pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.

By Tuesday, the Frederick County Bureau of Investigations, which is handling the case, had determined that the deputies had fired 18 shots at Vail, which was consistent with the autopsy findings, according to another sheriff’s office release.

In addition, injuries on Vail’s hands and damage on the shotgun’s pump action and stock confirmed that Vail was pointing the gun at deputies, the release said.

Investigators also determined that Vail’s shotgun was loaded with one round in the chamber and another in the magazine.

“As tragic and unfortunate as this situation is, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the intense situation faced by the deputies entering that bedroom,” county Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said in the release.

“The deputies were forced to make a split-second decision to use deadly force when the shotgun was leveled at them. This was a very high-stress situation in close quarters, which in this case was within 8 feet.”

Vail was a suspect in a Jan. 8 attempted home-invasion robbery at a home in the 600 block of Long Corner Road, which involved a shotgun and baseball bats, according to Howard County police.

Four suspects were involved in the robbery attempt, which Howard County police are still investigating, the release said.

Howard County police had obtained a warrant to search the apartment for evidence related to that crime.

During the incident, officers also found Vail’s 46-year-old mother in the apartment’s other bedroom. She was transported to the Frederick County Law Enforcement Center and later released.

Vail’s body was transported to the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore, where an autopsy was performed Friday, the sheriff’s office said.

Vail’s cause of death has been determined as multiple gunshot wounds, said Bruce Goldsbard, a spokesman for the office.

Goldsbard said that the autopsy report had not been completed yet and will take a few weeks before it is released.

Vail, a 2011 graduate of South Carroll High School, was previously arrested in June 2012 in Ocean City for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia, according to online court records. He was later released.

Zang, a 15-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, and Riffle, a seven-year veteran, were both placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is routine procedure in a police-involved shooting, said Jennifer Bailey, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

“That’s normal protocol,” Bailey said. “That happens with any [officer] involved shooting.”

In 2005, Zang was involved in another shooting while on duty. He shot and killed Charles Nobel Sines at his home on Araby Church Road, after Sines refused to drop his shotgun, according to Bailey.

myoung@gazette.net