Off-duty city officer charged with assault in incident involving killer from Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie
By Peter Hermann
Baltimore Sun reporter
4:08 p.m. EDT, October 26, 2009
The haunted house in Essex is billed "The House of Screams," but it was the character of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre killer who ended up frightened when authorities say an off-duty Baltimore police officer pulled his gun and pointed it at the actor during a skit at the Eastpoint Mall.
Baltimore County police officers arrested Southeastern District Sgt. Eric Michael Janik, 36, and charged him early Monday with first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. He was released on $25,000 bail and suspended by the Baltimore Police Department.
"I've never had anything like this happen to me," said Michael Brian Morrison, a 32-year-old contractor who helps run the privately owned haunted house and played the part of "Leatherface." The owners rent space from the Baltimore County mall on Eastern Avenue and attract 1,500 to 3,000 people a night.
Morrison is at the end of the haunted house tour and threatens people with a chainsaw that has its sharp chain removed. He chases people outside for "one last scream." He said Janik's group, which went through Sunday a little after 10 p.m. and included a female city police officer and the sergeant's 9-year-old daughter, were rowdy.
He said the sergeant held his screaming daughter close to scary characters and that when it came time to give chase, "I went after the adults" because the girl was crying.
A Baltimore County police report says Morrison approached Janik while he revved the gas-powered saw and when he got three to four feet from him, "Janik pointed a black handgun as his chest."
Morrison said he put his hands in the air and the police report says Janik stated, "It's o.k. I'm a cop." He said the officer's daughter was tugging the sleeve of the arm holding the gun and that after he put the weapon away, the sergeant approached him to shake his hand.
The report says the officer went back to his car, where a county officer first encountered him sitting in the front passenger seat. Janik rolled down the window and the officer noted in the report that "a strong odor of alcohol" could be detected. The report says that both Janik and the other officer in the car, Lisa Michelle Hinkley, showed their city police badges.
"When asked if he had at any time pulled his handgun out of its holster for any reason while attending the haunted house, Defendant Janik stated 'no,'" the police report says. Janik told the officer that his daughter "may have pulled on his shirt and accidentally showed it."
But police said they interviewed witnesses, including a tour guide and another worker, who said the sergeant pointed the gun at Morrison's chest. Police said they returned to Janik and wrote in a report that he "changed his version of events and stated that he did pull his weapon out and pointed it at the ground." He told the officer that Morrison "did not stop advancing toward him" and that while he knew it was part of the show, he pulled his gun "to stop him."
Police said in the report that the green Carlton chain saw "did not cause a threat of bodily harm." The report also says that Janik had slurred speech, but they did not administer a breath test.
Janik, reached by telephone at his home, declined to comment. His attorney with the city Fraternal Order of Police union, Shaun Owens, also declined comment.
Baltimore police chief spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Janik could be suspended without pay at a formal hearing later this week.
"These allegations are incredibly concerning and we are committed to holding our officers accountable," Guglielmi said. "We won't tolerate any behavior that undermines the integrity of the agency and the hard work of our police officers."
Morrison said that the haunted house opens again Wednesday and that he'll be back in his familiar role. "I'll probably be a bit more leery," he said.
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