Ocean City Today

Driver indicted in case of car hitting officer

Grand jury orders trial on attempted murder charges
By Brian Gilliland and Katie Tabeling | Nov 02, 2017
Antonio Ambrosino

(Nov. 3, 2017) A Worcester County grand jury has indicted Antonio Ambrosino, 18, of Seaford, Delaware on 15 charges related to his reported attempt to run over police officers who were approaching his vehicle on Sept. 30.

The indictment includes charges of attempted first-degree murder, two first-degree assault charges and numerous drug and related charges. The jury also indicted Arkad Espinal, 20, of Reading, Pennsylvania on five counts stemming from the incident.

The maximum penalty for attempted first-degree murder is a life sentence, and the maximum penalty for first-degree assault is 25 years.

All told, Ambrosino is facing eight felony attempted murder, assault and drug charges, five misdemeanor assault and drug charges and two traffic citations from the incident. Espinal faces two felony drug charges and three misdemeanors.

During what was an undeclared H2Oi weekend, police approached the vehicle, later revealed to be operated by Ambrosino, parked in a lot behind the 33rd Street shopping center. An unidentified sheriff’s deputy reported the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, and three Ocean City Police officers arrived to assist.

Two officers approached the vehicle from opposite sides, while the other two officers remained at the rear of the car. According to charging documents, the deputy observed Ambrosino with a bag of suspected marijuana on his lap. Ambrosino, the driver, and Espinal, his passenger, attempted to hide the contraband and ignored orders to open his window.

Instead, Ambrosino put the car into reverse and accelerated, according to police.

The deputy was reportedly pinned against another car, while Ambrosino shifted into drive and accelerated again.

An Ocean City Police officer, later identified as Pfc. Jeff Heiser, was in the car’s path, and he took action that no other OCPD officer has in seven years: he drew his service weapon and fired.

The car struck Heiser, who was thrown onto the roof of the car as it accelerated towards 34th Street. Heiser reportedly rolled onto the hood of another car. According to the report, another officer also fired at the car.

Fleeing to 41st Street bayside, but finding it a dead end, Espinal exited the car and ran, but was apprehended by police a short time later.

Ambrosino proved harder to catch, as he also exited the vehicle and then jumped into the Isle of Wight Bay and began swimming away, according to police.

Natural Resources Police and State Police helicopter Trooper 4 were called in to assist, where the officers used night vision goggles to locate Ambrosino about 400 feet offshore. He was arrested after being brought onboard a patrol boat.

Ambrosino reportedly told officers he would rather die than go to jail at the time of his arrest.

Both officers were treated at Atlantic General Hospital for minor injuries and released.

After obtaining and executing a search warrant on Ambrosino’s car, police recovered a BB pistol, a bag of suspected hallucinogenic mushrooms, about a half-pound of suspected marijuana, several baggies, a knife and a notebook containing a log of apparent drug transactions.

According to charging documents, Espinal told police he was sharing the marijuana with Ambrosino.

“We are very fortunate to live in a jurisdiction where law enforcement works both quickly and efficiently to ensure the safety of not just our officers but the community in general,” Chief Ross Buzzuro was quoted in a press release.

State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby said the people of Worcester are always safer when police and prosecutors work together.

“The people of Worcester County should feel comfort in knowing that the bond between our county’s law enforcement and this administration is unshakeable,” he said in a press release.

Ambrosino is being held without bond at the Worcester County Jail and is scheduled for a trial on Feb. 12 in circuit court. Espinal is out on $3,000 bond, and is set for trial on Feb. 8.

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