Prince George’s County homicide detectives are tasked with investigating deaths, but one detective took his role a step further and possibly prevented a homicide, officials said.
When detective Mike Ebaugh finished his shift at the District 3 police station in Palmer Park around 10 p.m. Saturday, he said he heard “wailing noises.”
“It just didn’t sound right. It didn’t sound natural,” said the eight-year veteran.
Ebaugh got in his car and followed the noises, which led him to the corner of Allendale Drive and Barlowe Road, where he said he discovered a man being beaten in the head by another man using a shovel.
“I saw that he was incapacitated, laying on his back, arms spread out as [the suspect] just hammers the guy as hard as he could,” Ebaugh said.
He said without having the time to call for backup, he got out of his car and drew his weapon, ordering the suspect to stop.
“Lucky for him, he complied immediately,” said Ebaugh, explaining that the suspect stopped as his arms were raised with the shovel, preparing to strike again.
Once the suspect stopped, Ebaugh said he called for backup and emergency medical assistance for the victim, and police took the man into custody.
The suspect, David Eugene Hamilton, 48, of the 2000 block of Ray Leonard Road, has been charged with first- and second-degree assault. A phone number for Hamilton could not be located. A defense attorney for Hamilton was not listed with the courts Tuesday, according to online Prince George’s County court records.
Police said the victim remains hospitalized for injuries sustained in the beating.
“My thought was, ‘Just don’t let him hit him again with that shovel,” Ebaugh said. “That’s deadly force. People die from that, and we see that in death investigations.”
Ebaugh said he saw the victim bleeding from his head and unaware of what had taken place after the arrest.
Police said a motive in the beating is still being investigated. Ebaugh said while he didn’t get involved in the investigation of this case, he said it appeared to be a dispute over money owed.
Ebaugh has served on the homicide unit for the past two years after coming from the patrol bureau and said the scene he faced in the Palmer Park incident is what patrol officers face on a regular basis.
There have been 59 homicides in the county this year to date, a 36 percent reduction in homicides from 2011, according to police.
County police said that number may have risen to 60 if it weren’t for Ebaugh’s actions.
“Obviously, given the pattern of events, there’s a very strong chance he did prevent another homicide,” said Lt. Bill Alexander, a county police spokesman. “He is certainly a hero for the victim in this case. It’s sort of ironic that a homicide detective would be preventing a homicide. That was great police work.”
Online court records show Hamilton has a preliminary hearing set for Jan. 4. Online court records also show Hamilton was found guilty of second-degree assault and third-degree sex offense for an August 2005 incident in 2006.