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Cowger: Bullets flying everywhere

Sgt. Joe Bailey of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department briefs the Pocomoke City Council on Monday on the February shooting at the Pocomoke American Legion. Bailey said recovered shell cases show several shooters were involved.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(March 8, 2018) A shooting at the Pocomoke American Legion last month was apparently not an isolated event, based on discussion during a Pocomoke City Council meeting Monday night.

According to a police report, Pocomoke Police were dispatched at about 1 a.m. on Feb. 18 and found multiple gunshots had been fired in the American Legion parking lot. One victim, Monique Douglas, “suffered a minor injury to the stomach as a result of a bullet” and was taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.

No update on her condition was available as of press time.

City Manager Bobby Cowger said about 250 people attended the event, adding, “It was bullets flying everywhere out there.”

He questioned whether the building should remain open.

“I don’t think there’s any reason out there worth losing an officer,” he said. “What you’ve got is about five or six officers who are going to go in there and try to calm down 200-250 people at two or three o’clock in the morning … it’s just not worth it to me.

“I don’t want to be sitting here saying, ‘yeah let’s let it go,’ and then next Friday night or next Saturday night it happens again and then one of you [police officers] are shot, killed or hurt,” Cowger added.

Councilman Dale Trotter said he was one of the responders to the incident.

“I can tell you, from the areas that they were shooting … people out in Pocomoke Heights, I’m surprised they don’t have bullet holes – and they may – in some of their homes,” he said.

Sgt. Joe Bailey of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office said he could not reveal many details of the investigation, but offered, “There were actually three different calibers recovered.”

“What I’m saying is, it was an actual shootout – they were shooting back and forth,” he said. “It was more just than one person.”

Bailey said during the last five years, two shootings and between five and seven assaults occurred at the legion.

He said the incidents generally involved “biker gangs out of Virginia and the deejays out of Virginia.”

“There’s not any activity out of Pocomoke or out of Worcester County – it’s all out of (Virginia’s) Accomack County,” he said.

Bailey said police used to be notified of events at the Legion, but no longer were.

“You can go a month, two months without having any functions at all, but when you do have a function it seems like you have the entire Accomack County come to the American Legion all at once. We’re talking large, large [gatherings],” he said.

He drafted a letter to county Liquor License Administrator April Payne asking about “having the license looked at or revoked” and said Payne asked for a letter of support from the Pocomoke City Council.

Councilman George Tasker said he was not in favor of revoking the liquor license entirely.

“There’s a lot of us have parties – the police department’s had parties out there for years,” he said. “There’s a lot of community people who use that building.”

Councilwoman Esther Troast said she received many resident complaints during events at the legion.

“[They’re] very concerned that this is going on in their front and backyard – they’re scared,” she said. “I’ve had numerous phone calls from the neighborhood.”

Troast also did not want the license to be permanently revoked, but said, “I’m definitely in agreement with the letter.”

The council unanimously approved an amended letter to consider “having the license looked at or revoked as they see fit.”