A city police officer, running out of room in a narrow alley where a driver was allegedly trying to run over him last night, fired four shots at his assailants, wounding the driver and critically wounding a passenger.
The car crashed into the side of a house.
The passenger, Abe O'Neil Leslie, 34, of the 900 block of Nottingham Road in West Baltimore, was shot in the head. He was in critical condition today at the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center.
The driver, David Arthur Cuthrell, 23, of the 2000 block of Hillenwood Road in northeast Baltimore, suffered head and facial cuts when the car's windshield was shattered by the gunfire. He was being held for observation at Shock-Trauma.
The officer, Sgt. Paul Abell, 31, of the Southwestern District, was not injured.
Homicide Lt. Robert Stanton said that around 11:15 p.m., Sergeant Abell and Officer William Marcus, 36, also from Southwestern District, were patrolling in the 500 block of Denison St. when they spotted a Volkswagen Jetta occupied by two men parked in an alley behind the 3300 block of Edmondson Ave. The area is known as a major drug-dealing area and the two officers have made numerous narcotics arrests there.
Sergeant Abell, an 11-year veteran, entered the alley on foot while Officer Marcus, 36, on the force since December 1990, drove to the opposite end to prevent the car from driving off, police said.
As the sergeant walked into the alley, the car drove away but stopped when it came to a dead-end near the back of the former Archway Ford dealership building, Lieutenant Stanton said.
With its lights off, the car backed toward Sergeant Abell at a high speed, he said.
Sergeant Abell ran along the alley but was unable to find cover because of a high concrete wall on one side and a chain-link fence on the other, Lieutenant Stanton said.
The car was less than 15 yards from him when he came to the end of the wall and dived head-first into a pile of trash. Then he rolled and drew his .38 caliber service revolver, the lieutenant said.
A witness told police the car was bearing down on Sergeant Abell when he fired four shots at close range.
Three bullets hit the windshield and the fourth went through the top of the open passenger's side window.
Bleeding from several cuts to the head from flying glass, the driver lost control of the car and crashed into the side of a house, Lieutenant Stanton said.
He said Mr. Leslie, who apparently was leaning forward during the incident, was shot in the top of the head.
After both men were taken to Shock-Trauma, the car was towed to police headquarters and searched it early today. Police said they found a small amount of marijuana in it.
Lieutenant Stanton said had the car been going forward instead of in reverse, the officer probably would not have had time to reach the end of the wall and dive for safety.
"He was quickly running out of room," Lieutenant Stanton said.