- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Police have released a sketch of the man suspected of gunning down a Hampshire couple last week while they were walking their dog along a path connecting the Waldorf neighborhood and Westlake High School.
Teresa Ann Bass, 40, was killed in the shooting, and her husband, Jerry Bass, 43, was seriously injured. The couple was walking along the path around 6:45 p.m. Friday when they passed a man who, for unknown reasons, pulled out a gun and shot them both multiple times, police said.
Charles County sheriff’s officers working security at the Westlake-Great Mills football game heard several gunshots and were on the scene within a minute, police said.
Teresa Bass was taken by ambulance to Civista Medical Center in La Plata, where she died from her injuries, police said.
Jerry Bass was flown to a nearby hospital, where he remained listed with serious injuries as of Thursday afternoon, police said. Jerry Bass is a career firefighter with Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service, department spokesman Bill Delaney confirmed.
Officers canvassed the neighborhood for possible witnesses and have maintained a visible presence since the shooting, Charles County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Diane Richardson said. Officers have handed out more than 3,000 fliers seeking information on the case, she added.
Investigators are pursuing leads and considering multiple motives. The suspect is described as a black man with a light complexion, possibly in his early 20s, who is about 6 feet tall with a slim build. He might have short, curly hair.
“It’s a tough case, but we’ve solved tough cases in the past, and we’re putting forth every effort we have in identifying the suspect, following up on every lead and every tip that comes in,” Richardson said. “It’s tough in that we haven’t been able to establish a motive at this point. We’re not ruling anything out, but we haven’t been able to point a finger at it and say that’s what it is. We’re hoping there’s someone in the area who may have heard something about this and will give us a call.”
The shooting has cast a pall over Hampshire, leaving residents wondering who committed the shooting and why.
“We noticed for several days, even in the daytime, you didn’t see near as many people out walking. I noticed yesterday afternoon, I saw a few people out walking their dogs, but nobody was out by themselves, and that’s very unusual for this neighborhood,” said Steven Blauvelt, a member of Hampshire’s neighborhood association. “On my court, people are shocked and somewhat afraid because it seems like it was just totally random.”
Blauvelt expressed frustration Tuesday that some lights, which were installed along the path early last month following complaints of fights and confrontations involving young people, still had not been activated by the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.
SMECO spokesman Tom Dennison said the co-op received a work order to complete trenching and hook up the lights on Oct. 16, but that by the time another contractor had finished marking underground cable and utility lines, Hurricane Sandy was descending on the region and consumed the co-op’s attention. SMECO is scheduled to power up the lights Friday, Dennison said.
Even if the lights had been on Oct. 26, they weren’t near the scene of the shooting, Property Management Enterprises CEO Mark Huseman said.
“These lights would not have made a difference even if they were on,” he said. “I wish it would have, I really do.”
The association has decided to hold a community forum in lieu of its normal board meeting Wednesday. Charles County Commissioners’ Vice President Reuben B. Collins II (D) and Charles County Sheriff Rex Coffey (D) are among those expected to attend, Huseman said.
Immediately after the shooting, Coffey authorized an increase in the reward for information leading to an arrest or indictment in the case from $1,000 to $5,000. On Monday, The St. Charles Cos. and Hampshire Neighborhood Association each contributed an additional $5,000 to the reward.
“It’s [a] terrible and senseless act, and we wanted to do what we could ... as a company to bring the community together and work with the sheriff’s office to bring this to a quick and successful conclusion,” The St. Charles Cos. spokesman Craig Renner said. “There’s very few crimes that take place in our community here in Charles County that are this jarring.”
Following an additional $5,000 contribution from the Hampshire Woods Townhomes Neighborhood Association on Thursday, the reward now stands at $20,000, Huseman said.
“It’s a bizarre case, one we’ve never seen the likes of before,” Richardson said. “We want to solve the case as much as the community wants us to. We have officers who live in the area. We’re just as concerned as anybody else.”
Anyone with information should call the sheriff’s office at 301-932-2222. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS or go to www.ccso.us to submit a tip online.