Grandson of slain woman, 83, fatally shot by startled officers Man with knife lunges at police from under bed

November 08, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Detectives searching for clues in the stabbing death of an 83-year-old woman were startled yesterday when the victim's grandson popped out from under a daybed and lunged at them with a knife, police said.

A homicide detective and a patrol officer fired a volley of shots at James Hazel, 41, hitting him several times in the chest and arms, fatally wounding him in a room next to where his grandmother lay dead.

Police said they believe Hazel stabbed Frances Caldwell in the back and was still hiding in the East Baltimore apartment when the victim's daughter discovered the body and police came to investigate.

The officers, who fired nine shots from their 9 mm Glock handguns, were identified as Detective Gary B. Hoover of the homicide unit and Officer Bryan J. Hake of the Eastern District.

They were placed on routine administrative duties pending an investigation of the incident.

Caldwell's daughter, Dorothy Johnson, said she and an apartment building maintenance worker found her mother dead about 11 a.m. and called police.

"She was a lovely mother and she didn't do nothing to nobody," Johnson said.

On hearing that her nephew -- who lived with his grandmother -- was suspected in the slaying and that police had killed him, Johnson shouted: "Praise the Lord."

Detectives could not offer a motive yesterday, but they said Hazel had been arrested several times on drug charges. Dorothy Farrar, who lives next door to Caldwell, described the dead man as "a druggie. He had been taking money from [Caldwell] for drugs."

Agent Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a city police spokesman, said police were called to the second-floor apartment in the 1600 block of E. Eager St. shortly after 11 a.m.

Officers found the woman dead and called for homicide detectives.

They arrived and discovered the woman had been stabbed. The medical examiner was called, and about 1 p.m. officers started searching the apartment. Weinhold said that one officer saw a foot under the daybed and lifted the bed.

Weinhold said Hazel then popped up holding the 12-inch knife above his head and advanced "in a offensive, striking position" at the officers, who opened fire.

Stan Saunders, a reporter for WJZ-TV, and a station cameraman, Mark Farrell, were standing outside the apartment's low balcony and captured the officers firing their weapons on videotape.

Both were interviewed as witnesses by homicide detectives.

Saunders said it appeared to be a routine death investigation when he saw commotion through the sliding glass door.

"All of a sudden, you hear police yell, 'Drop it, drop it,' " Saunders said. "Then we heard all the gunshots."

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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