A robbery suspect was killed and three bystanders were wounded yesterday evening when the suspect exchanged gunfire with a Baltimore police officer in a downtown fast-food restaurant.
Dennis S. Hill, a police spokesman, said the events that led to the 6:40 p.m. shootout began when two men were robbed of gold chains while walking in the 100 block of North Howard Street.
Mr. Hill gave this account:
The robbery victims found Officer James Barlow in a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on North Howard Street, reported the incident and described the two robbers.
Officer Barlow and the two victims walked to West Baltimore Street, where the officer recalled having seen the suspects earlier.
The three approached Crazy John's restaurant and arcade in the 300 block of West Baltimore Street, a block from the Baltimore Arena, and looked through the window for the suspects. One of the robbery victims then charged into the restaurant, which had about 20 customers inside, and walked to the back, where he found the suspects and pointed them out to Officer Barlow.
As the officer approached, one of the suspects pulled out a 9mm pistol and began firing. Officer Barlow ducked behind a row of pinball machines but did not return fire, fearing for the safety of the customers.
Another police officer, Edmond Lubinski, entered the restaurant, and the suspect fired at him. Officer Lubinski fired back four times, striking the suspect in the torso.
Neither officer was wounded. Officer Lubinski's coat was creased at the right shoulder by a bullet.
Three customers were wounded in the gunfire: Ruby Southers, 34, who was shot in the thigh, and Charles Allen, 20, and Larry Thomas Anderson, 20, both grazed by bullets. Ms. Southers was in stable condition last night at University Hospital. Mr. Allen and Mr. Anderson were treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital and released.
Mr. Hill said police believed that the customers were hit by bullets from the suspect's gun.
The 19-year-old gunman was pronounced dead on arrival at University Hospital. He was identified as Michael Fletcher of the 100 block of Palormo Avenue in Southwest Baltimore, Mr. Hill said.
The other robbery suspect was arrested. Police did not release his name because formal charges had not been filed last night.
Officer Barlow, 49, who has been on the force for 19 years, and Officer Lubinski, 50, a veteran of 23 years, are with the tactical operations unit, which works in high-crime areas.
Officer Lubinski has been placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation, Mr. Hill said.