Crime scene tape

NORTH EAST — Investigators are crediting a business owner with catching an armed burglar inside his North East-area tattoo shop and then detaining him – at gunpoint – until law enforcement officers arrived, according to Cecil County District Court records.

Cecil County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested the suspect, Paul Allen Bouchelle Jr., 42, of Holtwood, Pa., after arriving at the scene, police reported.

The incident started at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 16 – which was a Sunday — when business owner Derek Stephen Hibberd, 34, went to his Timeless Body Art studio in the unit block of Rogers Road, off West Pulaski Highway (Route 40), after receiving notification that his shop’s security alarm had been activated, police said.

Hibberd, who lives about five minutes away from his tattoo studio, responded quickly to the alarm, police added.

Once inside the shop, Hibberd saw a man, later identified as Bouchelle, “using a knife to open drawers behind one of the counters,” court records allege.

“Mr. Hibberd is a valid Maryland concealed weapon owner and immediately displayed his weapon, a Glock 48 9mm, on Mr. Bouchelle Jr. in an effort to defend his business and (to) make Mr. Bouchelle Jr. drop his knife. He then told Mr. Bouchelle Jr. to sit down and wait for the police to come,” according to charging documents

Hibberd showed CCSO investigators video gleaned from surveillance cameras mounted inside and outside of the tattoo shop, police said. In the external video, police added, Bouchelle is first seen pulling on doors at the rear of the building, which houses other businesses, too.

“He is then seen making entry at the side door (to Timeless Body Art) and then coming out the back door to the rear location camera, pacing back and forth. He then takes a shopping cart that he was pushing and (brings) it onto the business,” court records allege.

Investigators then watched interior surveillance footage, which, according to charging documents, shows, “(Hibberd) holding Mr. Bouchelle Jr. at gunpoint, as Mr. Bouchelle Jr. went through drawers in the rear of the business.”

Bouchelle dropped the knife into his shopping cart, complying – at gunpoint — with Hibberd’s command to unarm himself, police said. Investigators later determined that Bouchelle did not own the knife that he had been using in attempts to open shop drawers and that he had taken it from elsewhere in the store, police added.

It is likely, according to charging documents, that Bouchelle entered the strip shopping center property through a rear gate that cannot be seen on surveillance cameras.

Investigators noticed a broken window at the Divine Internal Medicine shop, which is in the strip shopping center with the Timeless Body Art studio, and they allege in court documents that it was a “possible entry point” for Bouchelle.

CCSO investigators interviewed Bouchelle, who, at one point, maintained that he went inside the tattoo shop, not as burglar, but as a concerned citizen taking action, court records show.

“Mr. Bouchelle Jr. claimed that he was only at (the tattoo shop) because he heard an alarm and wanted to check on it . . . (Bouchelle) claims that he had no intention of stealing any property and that he was strictly there to check for a possible intruder,” court records allege.

Charging documents also indicate that, at another point, Bouchelle told investigators that he had unintentionally wound up in the tattoo shop.

“Bouchelle Jr. stated that he was not trying to break into the (tattoo shop), but ended up in the store accidentally after trying to check on another store for a ‘friend’,” court records show.

Scheduled for a Sept. 14 preliminary hearing and an Oct. 1 trial, Bouchelle is facing four criminal charges, including second-degree burglary and third-degree burglary, both of which are felonies, court records show.

Bouchelle is free on an unsecured $3,000 bond, according to court records.

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