A 36-year-old city employee was shot to death early today in a gun battle in Southwest Baltimore after robbing a drug dealer of several vials of cocaine.
A bystander was slightly wounded by bullet fragments, police said.
When Southwestern District police arrived in the first block of S. Smallwood St., they found Michael Lavon Alston, of the 4700 block of Homesdale Ave., dead on the sidewalk with multiple bullet wounds in his right side.
Homicide Detective Gene Constantine said a large-caliber revolver with five spent cartridges was next to him, and several vials of cocaine and $2 were in his pockets.
Witnesses said Mr. Alston, who worked in the Health Department's rodent control division, told a friend around 12:30 a.m. he had only $2 and was going to get more money.
"He still had a couple of bucks on him when he was shot," said Detective Constantine, "so we know he didn't buy any of the cocaine."
Police believe Mr. Alston accosted one of three men standing at Baltimore and Smallwood streets at 12:40 a.m. The victim was robbed at gunpoint of nearly a dozen vials of cocaine, police said.
The detective said one of the other men fired several gunshots at Mr. Alston, who returned the fire but apparently missed.
Detective Constantine said that after Mr. Alston fell to the pavement, a gunman stood over him waving a weapon and yelling, "Anybody else want some of this?" Then the gunman and the two other men fled.
The bystander, Juanita McDonald, 43, of Woodlawn, was treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center for fragment wounds.