(PRINCESS ANNE, MD) — Maryland State Police have arrested and charged a suspect in connection with the murder of a woman in Somerset County early this morning.
The suspect is identified as Jesse L. Copes, 26, of Princess Anne, Md. After consultation with the Somerset County State’s Attorney’s Office, Maryland State Police Homicide Unit investigators charged Copes with first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, first degree assault, second degree assault, reckless endangerment, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. He is currently being held in the Somerset County Detention Center without bond.
The victim is identified as Tawanda L. Blake, 26, of Pocomoke, Md. She was pronounced dead shortly after 2:00 a.m. today at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.
Just after 1:30 a.m. today, Maryland State Police at the Princess Anne Barrack received a 911 call for a shooting at the American Legion in the 31000-block of Perryhawkin Road, Princess Anne, Md. Responding troopers found the victim lying in the parking lot. Emergency medical personnel responded and transported her to the hospital.
State Police investigators from the Criminal Enforcement Division at the Princess Anne Barrack and the Homicide Unit responded to conduct the investigation. The preliminary investigation indicated the victim was one of a number of people on the parking lot when several shots were fired by an unknown suspect.
State Police investigators worked through the day today and developed information that led to the identification of Copes as a suspect. Witnesses interviewed indicated Copes was one of a number of people, including the victim, who were the parking lot of the American Legion at about 1:30 a.m. today. Copes reportedly engaged in an altercation with several individuals that included yelling and then led to a scuffle between them. Witnesses indicated Copes pulled out a handgun and began firing.
At this time, the victim is the only person known to have been struck by the gunfire. An autopsy today at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore confirmed her cause of death was a gunshot wound and her manner of death was homicide.
Earlier today, State Police investigators saw Copes leaving his apartment and stopped him as he drove away. He was taken into custody without incident and transported to the Princess Anne Barrack for questioning. Investigators obtained a search warrant that was served at Copes’ apartment and led to the recovery of evidence. A handgun has not been recovered at this time.
Additional assistance during this investigation was provided by the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division, the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, and the Princess Anne Police Department.
Anyone with information about this shooting is urged to contact Maryland State Police at the Princess Anne Barrack immediately at 443-260-3700. Callers may remain confidential.