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Gun shop owner fired at unmarked police car thinking thieves were inside

Maryland authorities say car was driving away when he fired. Owner’s attorney says he was nearly run over.

A Maryland gun store owner is accused of assault for shooting at an unmarked police car. His attorney says he was nearly run over and didn’t know it was police. (Video: Obtained by The Washington Post)

Worried about a series of brazen late-night break-ins at gun stores in the area, Andy Raymond began spending nights inside his business — Engage Armament — in Rockville, Md.

“He did not want his merchandise getting out on the streets and being used in crimes,” his attorney, David Martella, said.

Raymond was jailed on felony assault charges after authorities say he fired two rounds at a moving, unmarked police SUV in his dark parking lot at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. Martella said his client believed the car to be occupied by potential thieves, rendering his actions regrettable but hardly unreasonable.

“This is not happening at a soccerplex on a Saturday afternoon,” Martella said in court Thursday, while asking a judge to release Raymond on bail. “This is midnight, behind a gun store, [after] a half-dozen gun stores have been violently attacked.”

Montgomery County District Court Judge Patrick Mays denied the request for Raymond to be released before trial, saying that whomever Raymond thought was inside the SUV, he shot as the threat was moving away.

“Those rounds were fired into the back of the vehicle,” Mays said.

Montgomery Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Larson had asked Mays to keep Raymond in jail without bond as a matter of public safety.

Larson said the officer had to turn around in the lot because he came upon a fence. When the officer did so, he saw a man grabbing at his waistband, prompting the officer to try to flee.

“The decision to shoot occurred after the vehicle passed,” Larson said. “It is difficult for the state to comprehend why, after the vehicle was fleeing and leaving the scene, that deadly force was utilized.”

Raymond’s arrest came the same week officials with the Baltimore office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) released a public bulletin about five break-ins or attempted break-ins involving gun stores in Montgomery and nearby Anne Arundel counties over a recent nine-day stretch.

In deadly gun store heist, burglars were warned cops were coming. They smashed in and grabbed weapons anyway, police say.

The incidents occurred between midnight and 3:55 a.m. In four cases, suspects used a car or truck to ram into the store, getting inside three of them.

In one of those heists — at Atlantic Guns, two miles from Raymond’s Engage Armament — thieves made off with five rifles and seven pistols, according to ATF. At another, police in Anne Arundel County caught two juveniles — ages 14 and 16, from Montgomery County — removing guns from display cases at Scott’s Gunsmithing, in Glen Burnie at 3:45 a.m. The pair was arrested. They had gotten in, according to ATF, after a Ford E350 Van plunged through the front door.

Ramming into gun shops isn’t new for thieves. In 2019, the owner of the United Gun Shop, in Rockville, erected a cinder block wall for protection after it was hit.

According to police allegations filed in court, Montgomery County officers have been conducting proactive patrols outside gun shops because of the recent break-ins. That’s what an officer was doing outside Engage Armament at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday in an unmarked maroon SUV, police said.

At that time, though, Raymond had left his store to retrieve something from his car. He noticed the SUV drive slowly through his lot and come to a pause, Martella said.

Surveillance video from outside Raymond’s store recorded the SUV driving away and Raymond running after it. Seconds later, after the SUV turned around, it accelerated toward Raymond, who appears to jump away to avoid being struck, according to Martella. The video captured Raymond firing two shots at the SUV, seemingly after it had passed him.

Police allege that the officer in the SUV had seen a person “moving towards his vehicle [while] reaching towards his midsection.” The officer then drove away from the man to avoid possibly being shot, according to police.

Martella said that before pulling out his gun, Raymond put up his hands to try to get the now advancing vehicle to stop. The officer did not activate his flashing lights and instead accelerated, according to Martella, nearly striking Raymond, who jumped out of the way.

Though it is a matter of seconds, the surveillance video showed two muzzle flashes from Raymond’s gun after the SUV passed him.

Police later found two bullet holes: one in the right rear quarter panel and one in the tailgate below the right rear taillight, according to court records.

After firing his gun, Raymond continued running after the police car onto East Gude Drive. It was then, according to court records, that the officer activated his lights.

“When the suspect saw the red-and-blue flashing police lights, his demeanor appeared to change,” police wrote in court papers.

Raymond walked back to a sidewalk, took off his coat, and was taken into custody without incident.

“While being handcuffed, the suspect said that he was sorry for shooting” at the officer, police wrote.

In an exchange between Martella and Mays, the judge questioned why his client ran after the car in the first place.

“Knowing everything that this individual knew about the possible threats that were out there, why he would choose to engage them?” Mays asked, adding, “Why didn’t he go inside and call 911?”

Martella said his client ran after the car to get the license plate number. He said that the video appeared to show the SUV driving directly at Raymond, nearly running him over and killing him. Given that perceived threat, Martella said, Raymond was scared that the occupants were violent gun thieves capable of getting out and shooting at him.

Mays, the judge, said he was concerned that Raymond would choose to engage with the SUV, “knowing everything that [he] knew about the possible threats that were out there.”

“It’s just hard to wrap one’s head around the actions that are depicted in that video,” Mays added.

Raymond has owned Engage Armament for 13 years, according to court records.

“He is a responsible owner of a gun store who does things the right way,” Martella said.

“He is scared of going to prison, but he is more concerned of assuring everyone he thought he was dealing with intensely dangerous people who were coming at him,” Martella said.