Stephon Prather caught day after officer shooting in Howard County

Surveillance photo from day of shooting, courtesy of HCPD

LAUREL, Md. (WJLA) - The man who authorities believe shot a law enforcement officer in Howard County on Thursday has been captured, Laurel Police officials say.

Stephon Prather, 29, was wheeled away on a stretcher shortly after being captured near Washington Boulevard in Laurel, not far from where a law enforcement officer was shot late Wednesday afternoon.

According to police, Prather was wanted for multiple counts of assault against officers.

The wounded Howard County Police officer is 30-year-old Steven Houk, who was shot in Laurel on Wednesday around 4 p.m., authorities say. Houk was responding to the 9500 block of Washington Boulevard in Savage, and was injured during an exchange of gunfire.

Prather was caught at about 8:45 a.m. Thursday while walking along Route 1 near the area where the shooting happened, where he surrendered to authorities. He was then taken to a local shock trauma center to be treated for a gunshot wound to the leg.

It's not immediately clear how Prather sustained the gunshot wound, though authorities say he exchanged gunfire with Houk during the incident.

Houk was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center where he remains in serious but non life-threatening condition.

"We got a call from someone working inside a local business saying that he saw a man with a gun. Our officers responded, they confronted the man, and he opened fire," says Sherry Llewellyn with Howard County Police.

A heavy police presence remained in the area overnight as officers checked every nook and cranny for the gunman.

SWAT teams were out in full force, and city, county, and state police line the roadsides. Meanwhile, others posed like sentries on hillsides only a stone's throw from townhouses that are within sight of the crime scene.

"It's a little creepy," says Laurel resident Jessica King, who is still shaken by the whole incident. She, her mother, and her young children heard the wild gun battle while on the back deck of their home.

"Like a loud boom, but it was kind of distant," she describes. "And I'm like, what was that? And I didn't even think anything about it. And then after hearing all this, that's what it was."

"It's really crazy," adds neighbor Phillip Elliott, who says SWAT team members gave him a clear order.

"When I came home, I saw it and I got nervous," Elliott says. "They were polite but said, 'Just watch the news, get in your house, lock up.'"

Elliott and his neighbors are worried because police reported that the suspect fled into the woods right near their homes.

"It's disturbing," says Jessica King. "It is. You have kids you have to worry about. They can't go out and play. You're waiting to hear if they caught this guy."