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Speed Camera Vandal Apologizes, Pleads Guilty

Bruce May said what he did was 'very, very stupid."

The operator who was on duty the day that was just trying to do his job, he said in court Wednesday.

May, of Elicott City, was ordered to pay $458 restitution to the speed camera vendor; to commit to 40 hours of community service, and to one year of probation, which will not appear on his record once served in accordance with the law. 

He apologized directly to the speed camera operator, Pieter Lucas. 

“What I did was very, very stupid,” May said in Wednesday.  “I’m sorry I did it and I’m sorry I put Mr. Lucas in harm’s way.”

Lucas' job has put him in harm's way before.   

In  2005, while working as a volunteer auxiliary officer, Lucas was hit by a Chevy Blazer, which pinned him to his car. Part of his left leg was amputated as a result of the crash. 

Lucas still works as an auxiliary officer and now, as a speed camera operator.

He was sitting in a van on June 26, operating a mobile speed camera near when he heard a thud, according to charging documents.

He said he looked out the window and saw a gray van driving off. When he got out of his vehicle, according to the documents, Lucas saw a quarter-sized dent in the side panel. Then, he saw the same van pass by once going eastbound on Frederick Road, then again, driving westbound.

The third time he saw the van, Lucas said, he saw the driver shoot something at the car with a slingshot. Lucas followed the van, according to the charging documents, and got the driver to stop. He called police and May was arrested. 

“I’m just trying to do my job without being injured,” Lucas said in his statement to the court. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.” 

"It’s very frustrating," Judge Mary. C. Reese said, "because Mr. Lucas doesn’t deserve this.”

Attacks on speed camera operators are not unheard of. 

Sean Collins, a spokesman for State and Local Solutions said in his statement to the court that a speed camera operator had been shot and killed in Arizona

“The monetary value is not what’s important here,” he said.  “It’s the safety of the operators.” 

In Maryland, too, speed cameras and their operators have been assaulted. Lucas did not have much to say after court, just that people do harass him “occasionally” as he performs his job. 

His boss, speed camera program administrator Fred Von Briesen, said and that on Route 29, where the Maryland State Highway Authority operates work-zone speed cameras, people have thrown rocks and drinks at a speed camera operator near the Route 40 exit.

According to Howard County Police, someone threw rocks through the window of a State Highway Administration work-zone speed camera van on U.S. 29 near Route 103, hitting the operator and damaging the equipment and vehicle.

The next day, according to police, someone threw something at aspeed camera van on Route 99 near Waverly Elementary School, breaking the back window.

Von Breisen said that he hoped May’s case would keep other people from harassing speed camera operators.

May pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and malicious damage of property, less than $500. He will not spend any time in jail. 

“I don’t believe that anybody here has asked that he be put in jail,” May’s lawyer, John Moody said.

What it boiled down to, Moody told reporters in the District Court lobby, was that May had a bad day.

“We can all identify,” he said. May is out of work and had been cited by the same camera twice in the two weeks before the incident.

May, who did not speak with reporters, looked decidedly different than in his appearance on WJZ news. Clean shaven, he addressed the judge in a brown suit and wearing glasses.

“I wasn’t thinking,” May told judge Mary C. Reese. “I was just acting.”

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This article has been edited to correct the spelling of Pieter Lucas's name.

Dave September 02, 2012 at 03:31 PM
refuse to accept anyone else's judgement about safe speeds. That's the problem. The speed limits are NOT determined by someone's judgement about safe speeds! They are set artificially low. Drive exactly at the speed limit everywhere you go one day, then you'll realize how ridiculous they are. And more so, by your reasoning, since accidents still happen, maybe we should set them all even lower... you know, to make everyone even more safe!
Dave September 02, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Yes, I have noticed that on Rolling Road across from Catonsville High School, if you are travelling towards Catonsville and a car heading towards Halethorpe triggers the camera, you will get a flash of a strobe light in your eyes! Really safe!?!! "Speeding" is not the problem. Idiot drivers who don't know basic traffic rules (merging, signals, intersections, round abouts, etc) are the real problem. Police never seem to be around to see all the unsafe practices that I encounter constantly. Driving along safely with other traffic, even at 15 mph above the 'limit', is far safer than all of these bad practices I regularly see. Yet the Gov't only harps on 'speeding' as if it's the number one unsafe practice happening out there. I believe it's the least unsafe practice. Of course, it's the easiest to enforce and collect money, though.
Greg G. September 03, 2012 at 02:38 AM
No one has mentioned that the speed camera vehicle was set up while school is not in session. Once again I have no problem with speed cams in school areas if they are there to protect the children and not the pocket books of HoCo. If you want people to support a good idea then stop corrupting the premise. My father a police officer of over 40 years used to say his job was to prevent crime, not catch it. If you want people to slow down, make them highly visible stop hiding in the bushes.
Dave A. September 03, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Schools are used year round for rec and park programs, youth camps and sporting uses. I don't see what the deal is with you folks and speed cameras. It is a law we live with. Are you saying then that it is OK to steal? Is it OK to do drugs and or drink and drive? What makes this law any different then any other? I am sure that if you had a family member that was involved in acollision with a speeding driver you would feel differently. Slow down and stop whining. Put your negative energy to use elsewhere. The elections are coming in a few months. START THERE!
Brook Hubbard September 03, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Who cares ~why~ they're there? The revenue to support them supposedly comes out of the tickets issued. So, if you don't want them there... don't give them revenue. Don't drive 12+ mph ~over~ the speed limit and suddenly this program starts becoming useless. Why do people keep defending breaking the law because of the way they're enforcing it? The law is the law... don''t break it. It's that simple. It doesn't matter if it's supposedly there to put money in the government (opinion, not fact), it doesn't matter if it's placed in areas with minimal walking, it doesn't matter if it's there when kids are in school or not. The van is there... the law is there... don't break the latter and the former doesn't matter.

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