A 37-year-old volunteer fireman was shot to death as he stood in front of his car on a quiet residential street in Silver Spring last night, following an argument with a man whom neighbors said he had been feuding with for many years.
Police charged Thurmond Williams, 55, a retired machinist who lives in the street where the shooting occurred, with murder. The victim, Larry Eugene Smith of 4 Bonifant Rd., Silver Spring, was pronounced dead on arrival at Montgomery General Hospital.
Police said Williams walked into his home after the shooting and told his wife to call an ambulance for Smith, who lay in the street with several gunshot wounds. There was a single bullet hole in the windshield of Smith's late-model Datsun, parked on the grassy strip opposite Williams' home. Police were attempting to secure a search warrant for the Williams home late last night. They had not yet recovered a weapon.
Smith, a plumber who spent many of his nonworking hours at the Hillandale Volunteer Fire Department, had been feuding with Williams for as long as 20 years, according to police. Neighbors said the dispute centered around real estate once owned by Williams' mother-in-law, whom police said had raised Smith as a foster child.
About 8 o'clock last night, Smith went to Williams' home, a spacious white rambler at 14300 Northwyn Dr., in a neighborhood of large homes set back from winding, tree-lined streets. Neighbors said Smith had done this before, and shouted into the house until Williams came out.
Neighbors described Williams as "a good man" who is meticulous in caring for his lawn and property and frequently offers to watch his neighbors' houses when they go away.
"He takes his wife to work and picks her up every day," said one neighbor. Mrs. Williams works at the Naval Surface Weapons Center in White Oak, the same facility from which her husband retired several years ago.
Sgt. John Kraft, one of the career firefighters at the Hillandale station where Smith was a volunteer, was one of those who responded to last night's shooting call. "We're all upset," said Kraft. "It's rough to begin with, going out on calls like this. It's rougher when it turns out to be one of your own men."