A burglary suspect was killed in a dentist's home in Rockville last night during a struggle in a crawl space with a Montgomery County police canine officer and the officer's dog.
The burglary appeared to follow a pattern of similar incidents in which Bethesda and Silver Spring residents have been robbed and beaten in their homes, according to a county police spokesman.
In last night's incident, the dog was taken into the home at 9 Purdue Court after a maid was found in the basement bleeding from a beating. While being treated, she pointed to the ceiling to indicate that her assailant was hiding in the crawl space, police said.
According to police, the incident began shortly after 8 p.m. when an unidentified female resident returned to the home, occupied by Dr. Samuel K. Kaplan, on a quiet cul-de-sac not far from the Rockville campus of Montgomery College.
On the floor of the kitchen, visible from the front door, police said, the woman saw blood stains. She left the house and called police. When officers arrived they found the maid, who they said had been severely beaten.
As the maid, later identified as Anna Awakian, 50, was being given first aid by rescue personnel, she managed to utter the words "man" and "crawl space," police said. They said the maid, who did not appear fluent in English, also pointed to the crawl space above a family room in the basement of the two-story brick and frame Dutch colonial-style house.
Police called for an officer with a dog, and sent the animal into the crawl space.
"The dog and the suspect got involved in a struggle," according to a police statement, and the officer, identified as Joseph Novello, 32, went into the space to help his dog.
At this point, police said, shots were fired. Officer Novello emerged from the crawl space. The suspect was found dead inside.
A county police spokesman said late last night that it was not immediately known who fired the shots, or whether the suspect, who was not immediately identified, was armed. Authorities said their investigation is continuing.
The maid was taken to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, where she was admitted in stable condition with face and head injuries. Police said they planned to interview her today with the aid of an Armenian interpreter.
The officer, who suffered a shoulder injury, was being examined at the hospital last night. Police said they did not know how he suffered the injury.
Police said the house appeared to have been ransacked, particularly the upstairs. They said they did not know immediately how the suspect entered or why the maid was beaten. A spokesman said it was theorized that the suspect tried to hide after the woman resident came to the front door.