A Baltimore police officer was shot in the arm last night and lost his gun during a struggle with a man in the city's Reservoir Hill section.
The wounded Central District plainclothes officer, Antonio Leroy Murray, 23, who has been on the force for two years, was in stable condition early today at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Police were searching early today for two men who fled after the shooting.
It was the first incident this year in which a city officer was shot on duty. Two other officers were shot while off-duty -- one of them March 15 by a would-be robber on North Bentalou Street on the west side, the other April 2 by a man who had gotten into the officer's car on Ramsey Street in Southwest Baltimore.
Last night's shooting occurred about 9:15 p.m. in the 800 block of Newington Ave.
Police said Officer Murray, who was assigned to an eight-hour narcotics shift and was working with a partner who had left the immediate area, approached a man who was in the middle of the street to question him about alleged drug-dealing, police said.
As the officer was approaching, he was jumped from behind by another man, and a struggle ensued in which several gunshots were fired, said Officer Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman.
"We're still trying to sort out whether he was shot with his own gun," he said. "What we do know is that his gun is missing."
Police said one of the suspects may have been armed.
Shouts for help on the police radio brought a large number of patrol cars to the neighborhood, and the commotion attracted a crowd of spectators, some of whom complained that chemical Mace was sprayed at them by the police.
"I hate to see a cop get shot like that," said Chris Lewis, a 25-year-old resident of the area, "but I don't think they ought to come through here with Mace and disperse the crowd just because they want to see what's going on."
Aided by a helicopter observer, police searched an area of several blocks around the shooting scene for the two fleeing men -- one described as wearing a black shirt and burgundy shorts, the other in gold-colored clothing and wearing earphones.