Man slain by Howard police reportedly was raising gun Officers were seeking suspect after shooting

April 22, 1996|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

Acquaintances of a 37-year-old Clarksville man shot by Howard County police remembered him yesterday as a temperamental man whose short fuse ultimately killed him.

Randy Bruce Pratt was shot Saturday night outside his home in the 5400 block of Ten Oaks Road, where he lived with his parents and a tenant. Howard County police said they were serving a dispute-related arrest warrant on Mr. Pratt when he raised a shotgun at officers after they told him to drop the weapon.

Mr. Pratt was one of two people shot by area police Saturday night. A man was in good condition yesterday after being shot by a Baltimore City officer after a series of robberies in Northeast Baltimore Saturday night.

The tenant in the Howard County house, Cheyenne Albright, 64, sat in a pickup truck in the driveway of the Pratts' single-story brick house yesterday afternoon, trying to make sense of it all.

"It's a shame for everything to end this way," he said.

Mr. Albright said the trouble at the house started Thursday, when police were called to settle a dispute between Mr. Pratt and his parents, Arno and Catherine Pratt. The encounter ended peacefully with no arrests, said Howard County Police Sgt. Tara Ball.

That argument started when Mrs. Pratt made hamburgers for dinner -- and Randy Pratt wanted spaghetti, according to Mr. Albright. The younger Mr. Pratt threw groceries on the ground and ripped telephones out of the wall in anger, Mr. Albright said.

After police left, Randy Pratt accused Mr. Albright of calling them. A day passed before any more confrontations.

Mr. Albright said he was on the back porch of his apartment about 9 a.m. Saturday when Randy Pratt walked toward him, holding a shotgun.

"He had a wild look in his eyes, didn't say anything, then fired over my shoulder," Mr. Albright said. "He stuck the gun in my stomach, and he told me if I didn't get out, he was going to blow me away."

Mr. Albright left the house and drove to a police station to report the incident. Howard County police went to the house to serve a warrant charging Randy Pratt with reckless endangerment, assault and battery.

Police waited outside for most of the day, hoping he would leave and they could quietly arrest him, Mr. Albright said.

But that night about 8: 45, Randy Pratt saw the officers from the window. He sent his father out, Mr. Albright said.

The officers said they wanted to talk to Randy Pratt. "That's when Randy came out with the gun," Mr. Albright said.

According to police, Randy Pratt first lowered the gun when asked to, then raised it. An officer on the county's tactical team, who has served seven years on the force, shot him in the chest.

The officer's name was not released yesterday. Sergeant Ball said he would be placed on administrative duty pending an investigation. She said all indications were that the shooting was proper.

Court records show that Randy Pratt, who worked for TC landscaping company, had been arrested since 1983 on charges of drug possession, battery, malicious destruction and felony theft.

But he was either found not guilty or had the charges dropped or tabled.

The Baltimore shooting occurred near the 1600 block of Ramblewood Road, where police had cornered two men suspected of holding up a supermarket and stealing a 1986 Mercury Cougar in the 5900 block of Leith Walk.

Officer Louis Averella opened fire from his patrol car when he saw one of the men running toward him, appearing to reach for a gun, police said.

The suspect, who was shot in the abdomen, was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Police spokeswoman Agent Ragina Cooper said last night she would not release his identity until he was charged.

Kevin Lewis Cox, 24, of Lanham was charged yesterday with two counts of robbery, carjacking, burglary, four counts of using a handgun in commission of a felony and four counts of assault in the supermarket holdup.

Pub Date: 4/22/96

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