Man shoots city policeman, hostage

June 14, 1994|By Scott Higham and Melody Simmons | Scott Higham and Melody Simmons,Sun Staff Writers Sun Staff Writer Ivan Penn contributed to this article.

A city police officer was shot this morning in Baltimore County by a man who then raced his Ford Bronco back into the city, sped along Interstate 95, shot a female hostage and finally shot himself in the head with the same gun.

The suspect, a man believed to be from a South Baltimore neighborhood, was pronounced dead near the intersection of I-95 and Caton Avenue at mid-morning.

The woman and the officer, who were not immediately identified, survived the shootings. A doctor said they were lucky to be alive.

The woman, 24, was flown by Medevac helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where doctors removed a small-caliber bullet from the center of her forehead.

Miraculously, the bullet did not penetrate her skull or injure her brain. She was listed in critical but stable condition this morning.

"This is wild," Dr. Phil Militello said at a morning news conference. "If you look at her, she's got a bullet wound in the middle of her forehead. I retracted the bullet already. It did not go in."

The officer, 37, a 13-year veteran of the force assigned to Baltimore's Southern Police District, was shot in the neck. His name was withheld pending notification of his family.

"It's a miracle," Dr. Militello said. "The bullet is lodged deep in the back of his neck. It didn't go into his skull."

The officer was in fair condition at noon and expected to be released from the hospital later today. He was alert, telling detectives what happened.

"He will be OK," police spokesman Sam Ringgold said. "We can thank God for that."

The incident started about 9 a.m., when Southern District police received a call about "a person with a gun" at 117 West St. in South Baltimore.

An officer arrived as the suspect was forcing a woman into a 1987 Ford Bronco at gunpoint. The truck was registered to John Ellsworth Porter III of the 2440 block of Washington Boulevard, state records showed.

Police said the woman and the man were estranged lovers, separated since February.

The officer gave chase. At one point, he pulled alongside the Bronco on I-95. The officer heard some shouting in the truck, then a pop and shattering glass. A bullet hit his neck.

L More squad cars joined the chase, reaching speeds of 95 mph.

The Bronco's driver made several U-turns on the heavily-traveled interstate, with police converging on his car and eventually hemming him in.

He stopped the vehicle, shot the woman once and then turned the gun on himself, police said.

"I saw the Bronco going backward on I-95, against the traffic," said Daniel Railey, a maintenance worker for the Baltimore City Bureau of Parks and Recreation, who was entering I-95 at Washington Boulevard.

"At first when I saw the Bronco, I was thinking the Bronco didn't know the traffic was going against him," Mr. Railey said. "Then I saw that it was a chase. I was coming up the exit ramp. I pulled over to the side.

"All I heard was 'Pop! Pop!' and I looked the opposite way," Mr. Railey said.

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