SPEAK OUT: Is Eldersburg Dangerous?
Two violent acts, a stabbing and a shooting, have people talking about safety in Eldersburg.
Two violent acts in less than a month in Eldersburg, a place that has been ranked nationally as one of America’s best small towns, have residents sounding off about the safety of their community, which saw a fatal grocery store stabbing in June and a double shooting Friday that police said left one man dead.
Do you think the recent violence that made headlines in Eldersburg is a sign of increased crime—or are these simply isolated incidents? Tell us in comments.
“Fortunately, the fear of crime is far more prevalent than the crime itself—that’s consistent through the country and here in Carroll County and definitely in Eldersburg,” said Major Phil Kasten, spokesman for the Carroll County Sheriff's Office.
“It’s important in both of these incidents, as tragic as both of them are, in both cases, there was a swift follow-up, [and] swift arrest through a joint effort between the law enforcement agencies and state’s attorney’s office investigation," Kasten said.
In the grocery store stabbing, Maryland State Police said Bergari Zardiashuili, 22, of Brooklyn, NY, was stabbed to death June 19 by co-worker Zamani A. Lawson, 26, of Jamaica, NY, after the two began arguing while on a cleaning shift at Martin’s supermarket.
And in the most recent incident, Maryland State Police said Jacob Bircher, 24, of Westminster, allegedly shot into a group of people standing outside the Harvest Inn just after midnight on Friday, July 13.
David J. Garrett, 36, of Sykesville, was pronounced dead at the scene. Gary Hale, of Woodstock, was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for the treatment of a gunshot wound, police said.
Police charged Bircher with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and attempted second-degree murder.
A preliminary hearing in Bircher‘s case is scheduled for Aug. 10, according to online court records.
Maryland State Police investigators are looking into whether the victim and suspect in the shooting knew each other, said Lt. Scott Lowman at the Maryland State Police barrack in Westminster.
“It appears something provoked this guy,” Lowman told Patch on Tuesday.
Lowman also said witnesses told police “they’ve never seen the person before, but it doesn’t mean the victim did not.”
Overall, he said of Eldersburg, “While there’s been a spike in violent crime there, it’s not indicative of a trend. These two cases are isolated. When you have a homicide in Carroll County, it’s big news–whereas in a big metropolitan area, you have several a year.”
Both Lowman and Kasten said the two homicides in the last month in Eldersburg were the only ones the town has seen this year, and there were none in 2011.
According to Maryland’s Uniform Crime Report, there were 4 homicides in Carroll County in 2010; 2 in 2009; and 1 each previous year until 2006.
Some Patch readers echoed the view of law enforcement—that the two recent violent incidents are not indicative of a trend.
“The incident at Martin's had nothing to do with this area,” wrote Chris Angelini Elrod on the Eldersburg Patch Facebook page. “They were not from the area. … The Eldersburg/Sykesville area is still a low crime area. Go check the stats with the police department. If you really think it is bad, try living in Baltimore City, or P.G. County. You will change your tune real quick.”