Wounded officer out of Shock Trauma

January 21, 1994|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

James E. Beck, the Baltimore County police officer who hovered on the edge of death for weeks after he was shot three times by a robbery suspect in October, has recovered enough to be moved from the Maryland Shock Trauma Unit to another hospital.

The 40-year-old policeman, a 19-year veteran of the county force, is able to get around with the aid of a walker. He faces weeks, perhaps months, of physical therapy and further recovery, said Lt. Michael P. Howe, head of the county K-9 unit in which Officer Beck serves.

On Wednesday, Officer Beck was moved to the Good Samaritan Hospital on Loch Raven Boulevard in North Baltimore, where he was listed in good condition.

Colleagues said that that alone was a triumph for a man who spent months fighting off infections and other complications.

"I'm no doctor, but he should make a complete recovery," said Lieutenant Howe. "He's going to be going through rehabilitation. His spirits are good."

In the early morning hours of Oct. 31, Officer Beck pulled over two robbery suspects on Pulaski Highway in Rosedale. As he approached their pickup truck, the driver leaned out and fired five shots. The policeman was hit twice in the chest and once in the left shoulder.

The suspected gunman, Mark Phillip French, 29, of the 300 block of George Ave., Essex, was captured hiding in a Baltimore rowhouse the day after the shooting and is awaiting trial.

The gunshot wounds could easily have been been fatal, those familiar with the case said. Officer Beck suffered a punctured lung and a perforated intestine -- causing breathing difficulties and infections.

At one point, doctors feared that Officer Beck was developing pneumonia. Because his lungs were so weak, they put him on a special machine that helped oxygenate his blood while removing carbon dioxide. "He was on [the lung machine] for a couple of weeks," said Chuck Jackson, a spokesman for Shock Trauma.

Several people who have talked with Officer Beck said he remembers the shooting but doesn't remember his first six weeks in the hospital.

Lieutenant Howe said he is trying to arrange a reunion between Officer Beck and his police dog, Ace, a 3-year-old German Shepard left without his handler since the shooting. The dog is housed at the K-9 headquarters in Catonsville.

Meanwhile, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4 is holding a bull roast to benefit Officer Beck and his 8-year-old daughter Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at St. Clare's Church on Myrth Avenue in Essex. Lt. Timothy Caslin, president of the county police FOP lodge, said 600 tickets have been sold so far, but more are available at $20 each. For tickets or information, call 668-0004.

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