Md. volunteer fire chief has a history of criminal assault charges

The fire chief of a volunteer department in Prince George's County is in jail tonight. Charged with 49 traffic violations in neighboring Charles County.

SUITLAND, MD (WUSA9) - A volunteer fire chief in jail charged with 49 traffic violations, has also faced numerous assault charges over the years. 

The Prince George's County fire department has operationally suspended Mathew Reginald Fowler, Fire Chief of Silver Hill  Volunteer Fire Department in Suitland, for what happened Tuesday morning 15 miles away in Charles County. 

Fire officials say Fowler lives with his girlfriend in Waldorf, Md. At 4:50 a.m., she apparently called 911 to report someone threatening to slash her tires, according to the  Charles County Sheriffs Office.  

RELATED: Prince George's Co. volunteer fire chief arrested after police chase

When officers arrived,  they saw the suspect and his silver Ford F 150 truck and tried to pull him over. The suspect refused to stop.  Charles County officers stopped chasing him at the Prince Georges County line.

Fowler apparently switched vehicles at his fire department. Just after 6 a.m. another 911 call came in from the Waldorf residence. 

This time the suspect was in a Ford Explorer which police say was clearly marked with PGFD logos from the Silver Hill Fire Department. 

The driver eventually stopped. Fowler was taken into custody and charged with 49 traffic violations, including negligent and reckless driving and eluding law-enforcement.

It's not the first time Fowler has faced criminal charges. Over the past 15 years, he's been charged with assault seven times. 

He was found not guilty in three of those cases and the prosecutor decided not to prosecute in two of them. It's unclear what happened in the two others. 

But Fowler does have supporters like Billy Cunningham, the president of the Prince George's Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.  

He says he's "known Matt a long time" and that this latest incident is "out of character." Cunningham says Fowler has saved many lives and been a part of many rescues.  

He said he was withholding judgment and concerned that the charges may be part of the "tensions" between the volunteer and career departments. 

Cunningham also said he was skeptical of the assault charges against Fowler and said he would not be surprised if they were made up. 

Fowler remains in jail and has a bond hearing in Charles County on Thursday. 

Whether Fowler keeps his title of fire chief is up to the Board of Directors of the Silver Hill Volunteer Fire Department. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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