Montgomery County police yesterday identified the burglary suspect slain in a Rockville home Monday night as a 22-year-old unemployed bricklayer from Silver Spring and said he was armed with a knife.
The suspect, Robert Sandy Maxwell, of 11636 Lockwood Dr., was shot to death, a police spokesman said, when a police canine officer, Joseph Novello, climbed into a crawl space where Maxwell was hiding. Novello, who had first sent his German shepherd dog, Bullet, into the crawl space, fired several shots, at least one of which hit and killed Maxwell, the spokesman said.
Novello, 32, who suffered a minor injury, has been placed on routine administrative leave and the incident is still under investigation.
The incident began shortly after 8 p.m. Monday when a resident returning to her home at 9 Purdue Court discovered bloodstains on the kitchen floor and called police. The officers found a maid, 50-year-old Anna Awakian, on the basement floor severely beaten but still able to point to a crawl space in the ceiling to indicate her assailant was hiding there.
Awakian was reported in good condition yesterday at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.
News of the incident spread quickly through the normally quiet neighborhood, known as College Gardens because of its proximity to the grounds of Montgomery College's Rockville campus. Neighbors said Awakian was a familiar figure they saw walking in the neighborhood most mornings.
The house where she worked, owned by dentist Dr. Samuel K. Kaplan, is in a middle-income neighborhood, where working couples generally leave their homes unattended during the day. Residents said the community has been rocked by a string of recent house-breakings, forcing many of them to buy dogs or install burglar alarms in self-defense.
"I got a shotgun and there'll be shells sitting next to it," said Jimmy Paul, a neighbor on nearby Auburn Avenue, around the corner from the home where Monday night's shooting occurred. "If somebody comes in here, I'll give them one chance to leave."
Rod Levine, another neighbor on Auburn Avenue, said, "There have been a few burglaries here, but nothing like this." Levine and his wife Caroline were holding two puppies bought, they said, for protection.
"I simply don't open the door for anybody unless I'm expecting someone--and they have identification. I'm a little bit paranoid."
Neighbor Cathy Oland said Monday night's incident "freaked me out. It scared me to death . . . . People are really freaking out. They're saying they're afraid to go home right now."