A man who apparently shot himself to death Tuesday after slightly wounding a Montgomery County police officer during a traffic stop was identified yesterday as Dale F. Connolly, 51, who had an arrest record for criminal possession of a gun.
Connolly, who lived in the Frederick County community of New Market, pleaded guilty in 1995 to unlawfully carrying a handgun on a public road and was put on probation for two years, according to Frederick court records.
Montgomery police said Connolly again was carrying a handgun on a public road about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when Officer Michael Clinton stopped him in Gaithersburg. Another motorist had called 911 to report that Connolly was driving erratically.
As soon as Clinton stopped his police cruiser, Connolly emerged from the 1982 Mercedes sedan he was driving and opened fire with a revolver, said Capt. John Fitzgerald, a police spokesman. Several rounds struck Clinton's cruiser.
Clinton, a 29-year member of the force who is weeks away from retirement, ran for cover and returned fire, police said. He was not wounded.
When two more police cars arrived, Connolly continued to fire, authorities said. One round hit Officer David Tallant on the left side of his torso. Tallant, an experienced officer who is in his first year on the Montgomery force, was wearing a bulletproof vest and suffered a bruise from the round, police said.
Connolly ran to a roadside grassy area and continued to shoot, authorities said. Numerous police officers rushed to the scene on Woodfield Road, including a SWAT team and officers with dogs. About 20 minutes later, police said, Connolly was found dead in the grassy area, with a revolver on the ground by his body. He apparently shot himself in the head, police said.
Fitzgerald said evidence indicates the bullet that killed Connolly was his own.
"I'm not going to foreclose the possibility that it's ours," he said. "But I'm pretty doggone confident." An autopsy was not completed yesterday.
A man who answered the phone at Connolly's New Market residence declined to comment on the incident. Connolly, who also had an arrest record for assault, moved into the neighborhood within the last two years to live with his older brother, Jack Connolly, according to a neighbor who asked not to be identified because she had not yet spoken with Jack Connolly about his brother's death.
Another Connolly brother had also recently moved in, she said.
"All Jack said was that they [the brothers] had run up against hard times," she said.
Metro staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.