Police officer saved by wearing bulletproof vest Ambushed from behind, he avoids serious injury

September 07, 1992|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

A bulletproof vest helped save the life of a 30-year-ol Baltimore County police officer who was unexpectedly showered gunfire as he sat in his patrol car in Hillendale early yesterday.

Officer Peter Hanlon was reviewing papers shortly after midnight yesterday on Cloister Road near the Northbrook apartments when the gunman, accompanied by several others, fired on him from the rear of the car, said Capt. E. Jay Miller, police spokesman.

"This was an absolutely vicious, wanton attack," the spokesman said.

Officer Hanlon leaned on the passenger seat to duck the gunfire and drove about 650 feet toward Wentworth Avenue near Solar Circle, where he got out of his car and collapsed.

Two officers, arriving moments later assisted him until he was taken to the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center, where he was treated for a bullet wound to his left wrist.

A shot to the four-year veteran's lower back was blunted by his bulletproof vest, Captain Miller said.

Officer Hanlon was released from the hospital after three hours, later returning to the shooting scene to reconstruct the incident for investigators, Captain Miller said.

Police said four to six shots were fired.

One shattered the left rear window of his patrol car. Another hit the car's left rear fender, and two hit a post between the driver's and back seats.

Police searched the neighborhood through the night but made no arrests.

Captain Miller said police didn't know why the shooting occurred, although they were investigating whether the gunman and his group may have attended a loud party Officer Hanlon had broken up earlier in the night.

Officer Hanlon told detectives he glanced up from reviewing papers and saw the gunman and a group of young men approach the car. As they got closer, one of them pulled a pistol from his waistband.

"He tried to drive off -- that was all he had time for," Captain Miller said of the officer. "The guy opened fire."

Officer Hanlon had responded to a domestic dispute and returned to Cloister Road, near where he earlier quieted a noisy party on Meteor Court.

He had also responded to a call about a possible shooting -- which turned out to be unfounded -- in the area at the beginning of his shift.

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