Wounded officer thanks school He found help there after 2 shotgun blasts

February 20, 1993|By Roger Twigg | Roger Twigg,Staff Writer

Officer Gregory A. Jenkins, who was shot twice in the head Feb. 3 when he opened the front door of his house and surprised an apparent burglar, says opening a door is something he no longer takes for granted.

"I now tend to look before I leap," he said yesterday while visiting Herring Run Middle School, where he thanked students and staff who went to his aid after the shooting. "I'm now more cautious of my surroundings."

"I was glad school was open that day," Officer Jenkins, 35, said. "Thank God."

On that day, the rookie officer -- he was in his first week on the job -- had just completed an eight-hour shift in the Southwestern District. Shortly after 9 a.m., he opened the front door to his house on Truesdale Avenue in Northeast Baltimore and found himself "staring down a shotgun."

The man holding the shotgun immediately fired it. Officer Jenkins, who turned away, said he felt "terrific pressure on [the back of] my head" and fell to the small porch.

"He came out on the steps and fired down at me," the officer recalled. "That indicated to me that he wanted to kill me."

The second blast of pellets from the 20-gauge shotgun also struck Officer Jenkins in the back of the head and shoulder.

Though wounded, Officer Jenkins got up from the porch and started running, knocking on the door of several neighbors' houses. At one house, a woman wearing a sweat suit opened the door but closed it, ignoring his plea for help.

"I can't blame her," Officer Jenkins said of the woman. "I didn't have my uniform on. I could have been anybody."

The gunman, meanwhile, had gotten into a car and driven off.

Officer Jenkins then ran for the school's parking lot, which faces his house, about 100 yards away. He recalled that as he staggered across the field leading to the parking lot he saw some students staring out the windows at him.

Then several people opened a door to the school and yelled, "Come over here, come over here!" Officer Jenkins recalled.

Samuel E. Parr, a 14-year-old eighth-grader, recalled he was with his parents in the school office next to the entrance when they heard Officer Jenkins banging on the door and yelling, "I've been shot. I don't want to die."

Samuel's parents helped the wounded officer into the office and began administering first aid. "I just got scared. I had a hard time moving," Samuel said. Samuel told Officer Jenkins yesterday that he was glad the officer "made it through what happened."

Mary Ann Knott, a pediatric nurse practitioner employed by Baltimore Medical System Inc. and assigned to Herring Run, was called to the office where she found Officer Jenkins "upset as I would expect someone to be. There was a lot of blood, but he was alert and talking." While tending to the officer's wounds, Ms. Knott said, she kept assuring him, "You're going to be all right. Help is on the way."

Minutes later, an ambulance arrived and took Officer Jenkins to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center where he was treated and released after an overnight stay.

Physicians said that, had the burglar used more powerful ammunition, Officer Jenkins might have been killed.

Some of the birdshot pellets remain in his shoulder and head.

Although the apparent burglar had stacked several items in ZTC preparing to remove them, nothing appeared to have been taken from Officer Jenkins' house, police said. No suspect has been arrested and the investigation continues.

Officer Jenkins, who is to return to light duty in a week, said he and his wife and two children are moving from the house on Truesdale Avenue where they have lived for about a year.

"I feel very lucky to be alive. I can't go back there to live," he said.

Officer Jenkins said he intends to continue to show his appreciation to the students and staff at Herring Run and will visit often.

"I was looking forward to coming back to let them know how much I appreciated their help," he said.

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