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More drug arrests rattle Emmitsburg residents

Chris Patterson
The Gazette

In a quiet community such as Emmitsburg, drug arrests are becoming far too common for town resident Ted Brennan.

Brennan has known for awhile that problems were simmering, but three drug arrests in less than two weeks have really gotten his attention, particularly since one of the arrests happened behind his house.

At about 2:30 p.m., on July 13, Deputy Kevin Eyler of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office was about to conduct a traffic stop when several people flagged him down. They told him a man was passed out on North Avenue near Federal Avenue.

Deputy Jennifer Bailey, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said Eyler went to the scene and found a 28-year-old man face down on the roadway. Nearby, a 25-year-old woman appeared to be passed out in the driver's seat of a Volkswagen Jetta. She could not respond to the deputy's questions, Bailey said. Both are residents of Pennsylvania.

The man and woman were taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital apparently under the influence of alcohol or drugs, she said.

"We're not doctors, so we don't know without a toxicology report, and we don't have one," Bailey said Friday.

During the investigation, drug paraphernalia and marijuana were discovered in the vehicle. Items such as syringes, smoking devices and a spoon with burnt markings on it were found and seized.

Eyler applied for charges against the woman, but no more information was available.

Brennan, spokesperson for Emmitsburg Coalition to Prevent Substance Abuse, said the incident shook him and his neighbors.

"I had people scared out of their wits. They were saying, 'Why is there a guy laying in the alley? Why is he acting irrationally? What am I going to do with my [child] who is seeing this?' ...It happened behind my house," he said.

Four days later, on July 17, Sheriff's Deputy Adam Gregory made a routine traffic stop on Annandale Road at Hampton Valley Road.

The driver, Ryan N. Ecker, 21, of Frederick was reportedly driving on a suspended license.

Two passengers in the car, Lance C. Stitely, 18, and Joseph K. Braz, 20, of Fairfield, Pa. were arrested for possession of marijuana. Braz was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

Two days later, on July 19, Sgt. Troy Barrick of the Sheriff's Office observed a Ford Bronco speeding in the 500 block of E. Main Street.

Barrick stopped the car, driven by Christopher M. Hollifield, 21, of Baltimore County.

As he approached the car, Barrick reported he smelled marijuana. Marijuana was found on Hollifield and in the vehicle, according to a report by the Sheriff's Office.

The driver was arrested and charged with speeding, and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

Brennan, a former town commissioner, said he is not surprised by the arrests. He started the Emmitsburg Coalition to Prevent Substance Abuse about one year ago to respond to the problems he heard about. Since then, drug arrests in the area have gotten more attention.

After three drug-related incidents in April, Mayor Jim Hoover spoke to The Gazette acknowledging the area has a problem with drugs and encouraged residents to get involved before the problem became severe.

Though he considers the recent incidents upsetting, Brennan said he hopes they will at least encourage more people to participate in the coalition and in trying to find solutions to the growing substance abuse issues in the community.

"I'd like to have as many people as I can get [at the meetings]. I know people are interested but they're not making the meetings," he said. "Anybody that says drugs are not in the community, tell them it's happening in their backyard, literally."  

The next meeting of the Emmitsburg Coalition to Prevent Substance Abuse will be in September. Representatives of the Frederick County Health Department will talk about prevention and treatment programs. For more information about the coalition, contact Ted Brennan at 301-447-3746.

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