Trooper tries to stop shootout; two men killed

An off-duty Maryland state trooper working security interrupted an apparent shootout between two men, one of whom who is believed to have just shot the other on the parking lot of a Wicomico County restaurant early this morning.

The two deceased are identified as Michael T. Ward, Jr., 27, and Jaquan M. Griffin, 21, both of Salisbury.  Both were transported to Peninsula Regional Medical Center where they were pronounced dead.

According to the preliminary investigation by the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit, at about 2:00 a.m. today, two Maryland state troopers were off-duty and working security at a 24-hour restaurant on Punkin Court in east Salisbury.  One of the troopers noticed a large crowd outside on the east end of the parking lot.  He was calling the Salisbury Police Department to report the crowd when multiple shots were fired on the lot.

Upon hearing the shots, the second trooper came out and approached the east end of the parking lot on the side nearest the restaurant.  The preliminary investigation indicates the trooper saw a man, later identified as Ward, firing a handgun.  The trooper engaged him and Ward turned in his direction, firing at the trooper as he walked toward him.  In fear for his life, the trooper fired at Ward.

Moments later, a man later identified as Griffin, staggered into the restaurant from the parking lot and collapsed on the floor.  Two friends took him in their vehicle to Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

EMS personnel responded and transported Ward to Peninsula Regional Medical Center.  Neither trooper on the parking lot was injured.  No one else on the parking lot reported being injured, however many of them left and did not wait to be interviewed by police.

At this time, Maryland State Police Homicide Unit investigators believe the initial shots on the parking lot occurred when Ward was shooting at Griffin, who may have returned fire.  A semi-automatic handgun was recovered beside Ward.  A second semi-automatic handgun was found in the parking lot in the area Griffin was believed to have been.

It is unknown at this time whether Ward was fatally wounded by the trooper or Griffin.  It is believed Griffin was struck by rounds fired by Ward. The bodies of both Ward and Griffin will be transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for autopsies.

The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit is continuing the investigation.  Interviews are being conducted and security camera footage from the restaurant and a nearby hotel is being reviewed.  Maryland State Police crime scene technicians are processing the scene for evidence.

The trooper who fired his Department-issued Glock .40 caliber pistol is a seven-year veteran of the Maryland State Police.  He has been placed on administrative leave which is routine whenever a trooper is involved in a shooting.

The Maryland State Police Internal Affairs Unit is conducting an investigation into the trooper-involved shooting.  This investigation is conducted whenever a trooper is involved in a deadly force shooting.

Homicide Unit investigators have been in contact this morning with the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office.  Upon completion, the investigation by the Homicide Unit will be presented to the State’s Attorney’s Office for review.

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