Felled officer made 'biggest sacrifice'

September 20, 1992|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

The last book Officer Ira Weiner read, one he hadn't eve finished yet, was a paperback titled "Small Sacrifice."

It is a book about crime and police work. Hours after he was shot in the head and critically wounded yesterday, his fellow officers found it on the seat of his personal car at the Western District police station.

"Today, he paid the biggest sacrifice," said Sgt. Mary Eilerman, who trained him at the city Police Academy four years ago.

"A while back, he said to me, 'Hey, Sarge, look at this book, you should read it when I'm done.' "

But now, she said, she won't be able to read it. "I can't look at it now. There's just too much pain. I even know what page he stopped on," Sergeant Eilerman said.

Officer Weiner, 28, is the second officer to have been critically wounded in as many days on Baltimore streets. And like the other officer shot, 26-year-old James E. Young Jr., Ira Weiner had a reputation as an aggressive officer who loved his work.

"We've had two tragedies in two days, involving good young officers. It's a very dark weekend for the department," Sergeant Eilerman said.

Both officers were single, both were known to work long hours, and both were frequently exposed to some of the more dangerous areas of the city -- in Officer Weiner's case, the neighborhoods around Pennsylvania and North avenues.

And perhaps most significantly, both were shot after they stood alone, confronting dangerous men. Now, they are at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, united in the fight for their lives.

Officer Young was ambushed by three men in a high-rise known for heavy drug abuse. Officer Weiner, meanwhile, was shot while out on a call he had responded to many times before -- a domestic disturbance.

"Ira had been on dozens of those kinds of calls, but you never know what you're dealing with in those situations. It could be anyone, anything," said Southwest District Officer Stephen Martin, who knew Officer Weiner while the two were assigned to the Western District in 1990.

Officer Weiner, he recalled, was "not the type of guy who would ever back down," but he was not reckless, and always wore his bulletproof vest, Officer Martin said.

The officer was often the first to respond to calls, and he seemed to enjoy going to several a night, Officer Martin said.

"You learn real quick in the Western. You have to. It's getting busier and busier," he said. Last Wednesday, the district had so many shootings -- including two children shot in cross-fire -- that three other districts had to send extra officers to help out, he said.

When it's that busy, "The reality is that sometimes you don't have backup. The department just doesn't have the people," Officer Martin said.

Officer Weiner's mother was taken to Shock Trauma yesterday where her only son lay gravely wounded and met with doctors, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and police department officials. Officer Weiner's father lives in Arizona.

Officer Weiner started in the Western District just months after a highly publicized shooting in which another officer, Eugene Cassidy, was shot twice in the face at point-blank range as he tried to arrest a man wanted for assault.

Agent Cassidy was permanently blinded in the incident.

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