A suspected robber was killed and three bystanders were wounded when a shootout involving police and a gunman erupted inside a crowded West Baltimore Street carryout and and arcade last night, city police said.
The gunfight occurred moments after a police officer entered Crazy John's carryout, in the 300 block of W. Baltimore St., seeking two men wanted in an armed robbery of two other men a few minutes earlier in the 100 block of N. Howard St., police said.
The gunman, Michael Eugene Fletcher, 19, of the 100 block of Palormo Ave. in southwest Baltimore, died at University of Maryland Medical Center, shortly after the 6:40 p.m. shootout with a second police officer. He was shot four times in the upper body and an arm. Police said the gunfight occurred at close range.
The three customers were not injured seriously, police said. At least two were thought to have been wounded by the robbery suspect. Police spokesman Dennis Hill said the third customer may have been hit by a police bullet that passed through the suspect.
Hill gave this account of the shootout:
Officer James Barlow, of the Tactical Squad, was inside the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in the 100 block of N. Howard St. when two men entered and told him they had just been robbed of their gold jewelry as they walked along Howard Street. He was told both of the assailants were carrying guns.
Barlow and the robbery victims began searching the area. A parking lot attendant told Barlow two men fitting the suspects' description entered Crazy John's restaurant.
Barlow, a 19-year police veteran, and the robbery victims entered the carryout.
One victim spotted one of the gunmen in the rear and walked toward the man. Barlow followed.
As Barlow came down one aisle of the arcade, the suspect ran up another aisle.
The suspect then pulled what turned out to be an 18-shot Glock-brand 9mm semiautomatic handgun and fired at Barlow, but missed.
Barlow, also armed with a Glock, ducked behind pinball machines but held his fire for fear of hitting customers.
At that point another tactical officer, Edward Lubinski, 50, a policeman for 23 years, entered the arcade.
"The suspect turned and fired three shots at Lubinski," Hill said. One bullet passed through the right sleeve of the officer's coat.
Homicide Lt. Robert Stanton said Lubinski then fired four shots, each hitting the gunman.
Stanton said the distance between Lubinski and the gunman had closed to a few feet when Fletcher fell and dropped his gun.
"It was real tight in there," Stanton said.
Shortly after the shootout, police arrested Carles R. Hughes, 19, of the 100 block of Siegwart Lane in southwest Baltimore. Hughes was not injured.
Hill said Hughes was spotted as he tried to mingle with the crowd. Before he was caught, police said, the suspect threw a pistol into a trash can.
The .45-caliber pistol found in the trash can contained three live cartridges, each with a firing pin mark on the primer, indicating that an attempt had been made to fire the gun, police said.
Police said Hughes was held overnight at the Central District lockup, charged with two counts of armed robbery, using a handgun in the commission of a felony and illegal possession of a handgun.
The wounded customers were identified as Larry Anderson, 20, of the 1800 block of N. Dukeland St.; Charles Allen, 20, of the 800 block of W. Lexington St.; and Ruby Southers, 34, of the 2300 block of Eutaw Place.
Stanton said Anderson and Allen, who fled Crazy John's and were found hiding behind the wall of a building, went to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Anderson was treated for a graze wound to the chest and Allen for a wound to the upper left arm. Both were released.
Southers was taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center, where she was treated for a gunshot wound to the left hip. She was listed in stable condition today.
Hill said the customers probably were shot by the robbery suspect, but that ballistic tests would be performed to verify that.
In the exchange of gunfire, at least five rounds were fired from the dead man's handgun, police said.
Stanton said the shooting was reviewed by a member of the state's attorney's office and that it appeared Lubinski took the correct action. Stanton said Lubinski has been placed on administrative leave, a routine procedure following a police shooting.
Police said one of the robbery victims, Kenneth Carroll, 24, of the 2700 block of Springfield Ave., remained at the scene, but the second robbery victim ran when the shooting started and is being sought.