ELKTON, Md. (AP) — Ten law enforcement officers have been placed on administrative leave after firing shots at a couple wanted on gun and drug charges who authorities say refused to drop their weapons after being cornered at a motel. The suspects, who police later determined were holding pellet guns, were struck and pronounced dead at the scene.
Brandon Jones and Chelsea M. Porter, both 25, were shot Tuesday after they pointed what appeared to be handguns at officers trying to serve arrest warrants, according to authorities.
The state trooper who fired his weapon was Sergeant Michael Bonczewski, a 10-year veteran of the department who serves on the Maryland State Apprehension Team, said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley.
Shipley added that three Cecil County officers also fired their weapons and have been placed on leave, as well as six officers from the Elkton Police Department.
Officials said results of a state police homicide unit investigation will be provided to the Cecil County State's Attorney's Office for review. The Maryland State Police internal affairs unit is also conducting an investigation, as is standard in such incidents.
No officers were hurt during the confrontation at the New Eastern Inn in Elkton, a city of 15,000 about 45 miles northeast of Baltimore.
Shipley said Delaware State Police contacted Maryland State Police on Monday, requesting assistance in locating Jones and Porter, both of Dover, Delaware.
Delaware police said Jones was wanted in connection with a reckless endangering incident on Oct. 18 in which Jones fired a handgun into the air after threatening to shoot a person.
Detectives executed a search warrant on Oct. 21 at Jones' home, where they found more than an ounce of heroin, a kilogram of marijuana, a .22-caliber rifle, and three handguns, including a .357-caliber revolver stolen from a home in Chestertown. Authorities also seized more than $2,700 in suspected drug proceeds.
Detectives obtained warrants for Jones and Porter on the following charges: four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony; possession with intent to deliver heroin; possession of heroin; possession with intent to deliver marijuana; three counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited; receiving a stolen firearm; conspiracy; possession of marijuana; and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Shipley said Maryland authorities were able to track the couple to the motel.
Officers went to the motel around 10 a.m. Tuesday, knocked on the door of the second-floor room and announced themselves as police officers, Shipley said.
As they shouted at the room's occupants to surrender, one officer saw through a window that a man was approaching the door with a handgun, and the officers retreated, Shipley said. According to authorities, Jones stepped outside the room onto the walkway several minutes later and pointed a gun at police, ignoring their commands to drop the weapon. Shipley said Jones raised the gun at officers and they fired.
Porter came out a few seconds later, raised a gun and also was shot after refusing to drop it, authorities said.
Porter and Jones were pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities later determined that they had been holding pellet guns.
In bystander-shot video footage obtained by The Wilmington News-Journal, two separate bursts of multiple rounds of gunfire can be heard at the motel. Multiple officers point their guns toward the motel room from the lawn outside the motel, as well as from the balcony near the door.
Associated Press Writer Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware, contributed to this report.