Second officer shot, near death Shooting suspect killed in gun battle with police nTC

September 20, 1992|By James M. Coram and Norris P. West | James M. Coram and Norris P. West,Staff Writers Staff writer Jonathan Bor contributed to this article.

For the second time in two days, a Baltimore city policema was shot in the head yesterday with his own gun and critically wounded.

Officer Ira Weiner, 28, was wounded so severely that doctors at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center said it was useless to operate on him.

"This is a lethal, massive brain injury, and nothing can be done to reverse that," said trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas R. Smith, quoting his colleague Dr. Aizik L. Wolf, the neurosurgeon treating Officer Weiner.

Clinical Director Philip Militello described Officer Weiner's condition this way: "His brain is functioning, but it has no meaningful functioning." Dr. Militello said yesterday afternoon that Officer Weiner was still on life support, was being monitored minute to minute, but was expected to succumb to brain death within hours. Dr. Militello said the officer's family has agreed to make his body available for organ donation.

Officer Weiner was shot at about 8:30 a.m. yesterday. He was responding to a report that a man who had been in a rage most of the night was creating a disturbance with an ice pick at a home in the 1900 block of W. Mulberry St.

As Officer Weiner entered the foyer of the home, a violent struggle ensued, and he was shot in the head, police said.

Backup officers entered the foyer moments later. There was an exchange of gunfire, and the suspect, 29-year-old Lewis Thomas Jr. of the 500 block of N. Calhoun St., was shot several times and killed, said Agent Doug Price.

Mr. Thomas, who is the nephew of a woman who lives at the West Mulberry Street address, was pronounced dead at the scene. Officer Weiner was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Donald E. Pettiford, who lives in the West Mulberry neighborhood, said he was sitting on the front stoop next door when he saw a police officer enter the house.

"He knocked on the door and went in," Mr. Pettiford said. "A couple of seconds went by after that and a couple of shots rang out. Then I saw [the police officer] fall out of the door."

Moments later, backup police cars arrived.

"Once the shots rang out, everybody just jumped out of the police cars with shotguns and it went ka-boom, boom, boom, boom," Mr. Pettiford said.

Rita Fisher, who lives on the other side of the house, said she heard a loud thud followed by someone giving a command to "halt." That was followed by gunshots, she said.

Gloria Mason, another resident of the block, said she was concerned about the six young children living in the house. "That's what scared me so bad," she said, adding that all the children were 7 and younger.

Ms. Mason and other neighbors said their block usually is quiet, except for frequent auto accidents at the corner of Monroe and Mulberry.

Anthony Powell, 52, who has lived in the neighborhood all his life, said this was the first shooting on the block he could recall. "I'm not saying this is going to be the last time," Mr. Powell said. "When you have a family quarrel, and an outsider comes in, anything can happen."

Angry and saddened, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke arrived at the Shock Trauma Center at 10:43 a.m. to check on Officer Weiner's condition and meet the officer's family.

"I can't imagine anything rougher" than two police officers being shot in the head by their own guns on successive days, the mayor said. "The bad news is that the officer shot this morning is in worse shape than Officer Young."

The mayor was referring to plain clothes Officer James E. Young Jr., 26, who was ambushed in the hallway of a Southeast Baltimore high-rise just before noon Friday. Officer Young was -- critically wounded when shot in the head with his own gun about 11:45 a.m. in the Flag House Courts public housing complex on South Exeter Street.

"We're not going to let the criminal element take over this city," Mayor Schmoke said. "I am going to support our police officers to make sure they are not feeling abandoned." Part of that support, the mayor said, would be for the state to enforce the death penalty.

"Nobody has been put to death in this state since 1978," he said angrily. That was the year the death penalty was reinstated.

One of the messages police sent yesterday, the mayor said, is that criminals who shoot at police can expect to be shot by backup officers. "The [backup] officer stood back and killed the guy, and that was right," the mayor said.

The twin shootings "have left all of us in a state of shock," Agent Price said. "I wish I had words to assuage the sorrow."

Detective Jeanne Mewbourne, a police academy instructor and critical stress counselor, came to Shock Trauma yesterday to debrief Western District officers and help deal with the stress suffered by officers responding to yesterday morning's shooting. trying to bring the adrenalin down," she said. "They're wired" and need to know that the "nausea, the sleeplessness, the anger are normal."

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