Officer shoots 3 others during raid

September 23, 1994|By Michael James and Peter Hermann | Michael James and Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writers

A Baltimore police officer opened fire yesterday during a drug raid at an East Baltimore rowhouse and shot three fellow officers as they swarmed inside, police officials said.

The three injured officers -- who were not seriously hurt -- were being treated at area hospitals last night as bewildered police commanders tried to understand what caused the raid to go so terribly awry.

"I can't play Monday-morning quarterback and say why he did it," said Officer Robert W. Weinhold, a police spokesman. "It is unfair to speculate as to why the officer fired his weapon."

Police last night refused to identify the 24-year-old officer who fired the shots at 1604 N. Port St., a house they described as a drug packaging and distribution center.

The officer, a three-year undercover narcotics officer assigned to the Eastern District, was being extensively questioned last night and will be assigned to routine desk duty while a report is completed, police said.

The incident occurred about 3 p.m. as two teams of officers converged on the North Port Street house. A "flex team," a group of undercover officers used for special assignments in the Eastern District, was stationed at the back of the house while narcotics officers prepared to raid the front.

All of the officers were in civilian clothes, but had obvious identification on them showing that they were police officers, Officer Weinhold said.

When the narcotics officers forced their way through the front door, the occupants fled toward the rear -- where the flex team members were positioned to prevent the suspects from escaping, police said.

The officer was inside the front of the house. Apparently without warning -- and without anyone else firing any shots -- he opened fire with his 9-mm Glock service pistol, Officer Weinhold said.

All three officers who were struck were at the rear of the house.

Wounded in the upper left arm was Officer Graham Sylvester, 39, a seven-year veteran. He underwent surgery last night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Officers Aaron Perkins, 29, a four-year veteran, and James Hamilton, 27, a three-year veteran, were both struck in the left hand. Officer Perkins was in good condition last night at the Johns Hopkins Hospital while Officer Hamilton was treated and released from Hopkins.

The officer who fired his gun has cooperated fully with the investigation and, Officer Weinhold said, "as can be expected, he is highly upset about what happened." The officers involved in the raid all know one another, he said.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was on his way to Connecticut when the incident happened, but he was later informed of the shootings, said his spokesman, Clinton R. Coleman.

"He wanted to know all the details," Mr. Coleman said. "Anytime an officer is shot, he takes it very hard. He's very concerned but relieved to know that [the injuries] weren't serious."

Police arrested four people in the raid and seized drug paraphernalia, about $1,000 in cash, and two police scanners programmed to the Eastern District. The suspects were identified as Anthony Johnson, 28; Ricky Evans, 36; Yvette Hollie, 23; and Bernadette Webster, 22. Each was charged with felony narcotics charges, police said.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, who went to visit the wounded officers, was said to be shaken by the news. "Obviously he is distressed by what has transpired," Officer Weinhold said.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier had issued an order in July requiring narcotics officers and others to attend a "drug enforcement training symposium" designed to prevent mishaps such as occurred yesterday.

The symposium is primarily aimed at teaching safety during raids.

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