Hearing rescheduled for Sharpsburg man charged with ramming vehicles, injuring driver

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A Sharpsburg man who was charged with burning his house in 2019 is facing charges of ramming other vehicles with his truck and injuring drivers in two separate cases from 2020 and this year, according to Washington County District Court records.

James Russell Anderson, 46, was ordered held without bail in the Washington County Detention Center and to be evaluated for his competency to face charges filed in the latest incident, which occurred March 1, court records show.

A preliminary hearing in the case had been set for Thursday, according to court records, but was postponed until June 7 after the Maryland Department of Health requested a delay "… so that we will have ample time to submit a comprehensive evaluation to the court."

In that case, Anderson, 46, is charged with two counts each of first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and malicious destruction of property valued at more than $1,000, court records show.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office responded to a reported disturbance at a property in the 4800 block of Churchey Road on March 1 around 2:28 p.m. The caller reported that people who didn't belong there were removing things, according to the charging document filed against Anderson.

While en route, the responding deputy was told that another caller reported that a male in a truck was ramming other vehicles there, that the truck had become disabled and that the driver then got into an SUV that struck another vehicle before fleeing, the document states.

Police say Cynthia Sullivan's Tesla was rammed and demolished by a truck allegedly driven by a man charged with assaulting her.
Police say Cynthia Sullivan's Tesla was rammed and demolished by a truck allegedly driven by a man charged with assaulting her.

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The deputy arrived to find an Audi with rear and passenger side damage and a Tesla with heavy front-end damage that "looked as if another vehicle was on top of the entire front end." There was also a silver Ford F-350 truck with heavy front-end damage and its two front tires stuck in the mud, the document states.

The original caller, who was a tenant in the residence, told deputies that a car full of people showed up and began removing furniture that belonged to the owner. Deputies later learned that the owner had warned the tenant ahead of time, and that the real estate agent driving the Tesla was there to value the property, according to the document.

The driver of the Audi, Linda Adele West, told deputies that she was the owner of the property and had hired workers to remove her furniture. She said the truck came onto the property at a high rate of speed and hit Cynthia Ruth Sullivan's Tesla head-on, the document states. Sullivan was in the car at the time.

West said the truck backed up and hit the Tesla about five times, and that she "thought he was trying to kill her." Sullivan was treated by emergency medical services personnel for severe neck and back pain before she was taken to Meritus Medical Center east of Hagerstown, the document states.

West said the truck backed up and hit her Audi and then reversed again until it got stuck in the mud. The driver then got into an SUV driven by a woman. The SUV hit West's Audi twice more to push it out of the way as it fled onto Anderson's driveway nearby, according to the document.

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Deputies at the scene were notified by the Washington County Emergency Communications Center that a caller from Anderson's address was reporting his silver Ford truck missing. The center sent a picture of the registered owner, Anderson, and witnesses at the scene positively identified him as the driver of the truck that struck the other vehicles, the document states.

In trying to contact Anderson at his home, deputies used an intercom at a front gate with multiple cameras and signs stating that "trespassers will be shot," according to the document, which notes that deputies had dealt with Anderson in the past and that "he is very uncooperative and aggressive towards law enforcement."

When Anderson came down the hill and was taken into custody, he told deputies that he had taken some medications. He was treated at the scene by EMS personnel, the document states.

"It should be noted that at the time Anderson was placed under arrest, his face appeared freshly shaven and did not have a beard as originally described by victims and witnesses," the document states.

Previous assault charges

Anderson also faces charges of first- and second-degree assault and other offenses in an Oct. 3, 2020, incident in which he is accused of ramming another driver's Pontiac GTO with his truck in the area of South Potomac Street and Oak Ridge Drive just south of Hagerstown. He had been released on his own recognizance in that case, court records show.

The other driver, identified in court records as Benjamin James Lee, 25, told deputies that the driver of the truck punched him in the head several times afterward and that he had head and back pain, but did not want an ambulance, the charging document in that case states.

Anderson told police that he was in the left turn lane on East Oak Ridge Drive when the GTO came up the wrong lane, cut in front of him and clipped his bumper. He said his foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator, causing the truck to hit the rear of the GTO and push it across the street, the charging document states.

Video from Anderson's own dash camera showed that the GTO did cut in front of his truck, but did not strike it. On the video, a horn is heard and the diesel truck accelerates and hits the car, which picks up speed to create a gap. The truck then accelerates louder and hits the rear of the car again, pushing it through the intersection and into the backyard of 1401 S. Potomac St., the document states.

Lee told police that he did drive into oncoming traffic by mistake and thought the truck was giving him space to cut into the line of traffic. He and several witnesses gave the same accounts of the incident as was captured on the video, according to the document.

The truck, a 2001 Ford F-350 diesel crew cab long bed, was equipped with a large, homemade front bumper fabricated from steel tubing and plates, the document states.

Anderson was evaluated for his competency to face charges in that case, and the evaluation report was ordered sealed, court records show.

Court records show that several trial dates, including May 17, had been set in that case, but the proceeding has been postponed.

Fire set

Records also show that Anderson is scheduled for a hearing July 26 on whether he violated his probation on the charges stemming from the fire at his home.

In that case, Anderson was charged with first-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning and reckless endangerment. He pleaded guilty on June 11, 2019, to reckless endangerment, court records show. The arson and malicious burning counts were dropped.

He was sentenced to the 45 days he had already spent in jail and was placed on two years supervised probation, court records show.

The charging document in that case states that Anderson set fire to a box in the basement and kicked it, setting fire to curtains. The fire quickly spread.

The house was a total loss, with damage estimated at $200,000, authorities said.

Correction: This story was updated at 11:56 a.m. May 16, 2022, to correct a source's error. Dr. Linda Adele West owns the property described in the story. The Herald-Mail apologizes for the mistake.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Sharpsburg man charged with ramming cars, assaulting drivers

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