2nd shootout in week fatal to man Narcotics officers interrupt drug deal in Murphy Homes.

February 04, 1992|By John Rivera and Richard Irwin

A man, recovering from being shot last week in an alleged drug-related shooting, was killed last night during a gunfight with police who were responding to a report of a drug deal at a public housing high-rise in West Baltimore.

Four other men and a woman were wounded in the shootout.

Police identified the dead man as Wayne D. Watts, 25, of the 700 block of West Saratoga St.

Mr. Watts was shot at least three times and was identified by police as the man who fired at least four shots from a .357 Magnum revolver at two plainclothes officers who interrupted a drug deal around 8 p.m. in a fifth-floor hallway at the George P. Murphy Homes in the 1000 block of Argyle Ave.

Police said Mr. Watts was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center with a wound in each hand and the upper left leg. He underwent emergency surgery but died at 2:50 a.m.

Sgt. Gary Childs, of the homicide squad, said none of the other people wounded in the shootout would be charged at this time.

"We can identify Wayne D. Watts as the gunman and until our investigation reveals that the others were involved in drug activity or the shooting, none of them will be charged at this time," Sergeant Childs said.

According to police, plainclothes narcotics officers Stewart Carlton, 29, and Neyland Vaughn Jr., 22, responded to a report of drug dealing at 1058 Argyle Ave., where they found about a dozen people apparently engaged in selling and buying drugs in a hallway.

Police said the call came from a resident of the building.

One man opened fire with a .357-caliber Magnum and the officers responded with 15 shots, striking five men and one woman, said Dennis S. Hill, a police spokesman. Neither officer was wounded.

Mr. Hill said the shooting was at very close range and lasted no more than 10 seconds.

Four of the wounded were taken to University of Maryland Medical Center. Police identified them as:

* Peter T. Williams, 22, of the 100 block of North Milton Ave., who was treated for a bullet wound in the leg and released. However, a warrant from the city sheriff's office charging him with failure to appear in court on unrelated drug charges was placed against him as a retainer.

* Brian P. Watts, 23, of the 1500 block of Pennsylvania Ave., and James L. Butler, 25, of the 1500 block of Riggs Ave., were each admitted with bullet wounds and were listed today in stable condition.

* Valerie M. Falls, 33, of the 100 block of West Centre St., was shot in the left calf and was treated and released.

Michael Jacobs, 24, of the 1300 block of McCulloh St., took a taxi to the same hospital, police said. He was in stable condition today with a bullet wound in the left arm pit. A warrant issued by State Police charging him with a weapons violation was placed against him as a detainer, police said.

Police said Mr. Watts was shot five times last week during an alleged drug-related shooting on the ninth floor of the building where last night's incident occurred. He was treated at University for gunshot wounds to both legs and released.

Last night's shooting began around 8 p.m. after Central District narcotics officers had moved up two exterior staircases -- at the north and south ends of the building -- stopping to check at each floor, Mr. Hill said.

When the officers on the south end reached the fifth floor, one pushed open the door and saw about a dozen men believed to be dealing drugs.

One of the plainclothes officers showed his badge and identified himself to the men, Mr. Hill said.

A man in the group began firing a handgun.

When the first shot was fired, police said, an emergency call was broadcast by one of the two officers, bringing more than a dozen police cars from the Central and Western District to the scene. Also responding were officers assigned to the Housing Authority police.

Police went floor-to-floor looking for wounded suspects who bolted down the hallway and into nearby apartments in an effort to escape capture.

At least two of the wounded men were found in apartments on the ninth floor.

Several slugs, including some from a .22 caliber handgun, were later found by investigators in the wall and door frame near where the officers had been standing.

Police said the .357 Magnum was retrieved from Mr. Watts' hands as he lay on the floor.

However, no .22 caliber handgun was recovered from any of the wounded people. Police said the gun may have been disposed of or carried away from someone in the crowd who was not shot.

Mr. Hill said a small amount of drugs and drug equipment was found in the hallway.

One of the officers fired seven times and the other eight times. All six people were believed hit by the officers, Mr. Hill said.

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