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Parents Dismayed At Youth Sniper Episode

August 29, 1989

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) _ Some parents in the Washington suburbs of Prince George’s County on Monday voiced dismay and criticized parents who own firearms following a weekend incident in which four juveniles playing ″Rambo″ fired at passing cars on Interstate 95.

One motorist was slightly injured in an earlier incident.

″We’re a very close-knit neighborhood,″ said Kelly Stein, a resident of Temple Hills. ″We keep an eye on our children and we don’t have much in the way of crime or vandalism ... it was very scary.″

Another mother in the area said the incident should warn parents to keep their weapons away from youngsters.

″I hope that it’ll open eyes to parents to know where your kids are,″ said Lauren Chambers. ″If you have guns, lock them up.″

Four youths ranging from age 9 to 14 were caught Saturday night by Maryland State Police after citizens reported hearing gunfire near the highway. Police sent a helicopter and several patrols to the area to investigate and a 14- year-old youth shot at the helicopter prior to his capture, officials said.

State police spokesman Chuck Jackson said only two of the youths were charged.

Those two appeared in juvenile court in Upper Marlboro on Monday. The results of the proceedings were not made public. However, Christine Plater, spokeswoman for Maryland Juvenile Services, said the 14-year-old, from La Plata, was the only youth placed in the custody of her office, but Monday was returned to the custody of his parents by the court. Jackson said an 11-year- old, from Temple Hills, was released to his parents Saturday..

The 9-year-old and his 12-year-old brother, both of Temple Hills, were released to their parents without being charged.

The names of the youths have not been released because of their ages.

Two .22-caliber rifles were recovered, Jackson said.

Jackson said police believe both rifles belonged to the 14-year-old’s uncle, a gun collector who kept numerous weapons in the attic of his La Plata home.

The shootings apparently began Aug. 18 when the youths were playing war games and pretending to be Rambo, the fictional mercenary played in several movies by Sylvester Stallone, said state police Detective John Wooters.

James Orchard of Lusby was injured when a bullet pierced his windshield and struck his shoulder. Orchard drove to the Forestville police barrack to report the incident and then was treated at Andrews Air Force Base.

Three other cars were hit that evening, and the area has been under surveillance since then, Jackson said.

Several shots were fired into the pool area of the Temple Hills Swim Club and at street lights nearby, said manager Gina E. Magnani, who was in the office. No one was injured.

Magnani reported seeing two youths wearing camouflage military uniforms ″sneaking through the grass shooting.″