City officer wounded, gunman slain in shootout after 3-hour standoff Suspect had hidden in attic crawl space

November 09, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Kris Antonelli contributed to this article.

A Baltimore police officer was seriously wounded and a gunman was killed yesterday afternoon when the man barricaded himself in an attic and exchanged dozens of shots with officers after a three-hour standoff.

The injuries to Sgt. Christopher Street were not life-threatening, but a doctor said he may have suffered long-term damage to his right arm. Police said the bullet penetrated a protective vest, went through the officer's shoulder and lodged behind a kidney.

Police said the 22-year-old suspect, Darrald Anton Barnes, was killed in an exchange of gunfire as he descended the pull-down steps to the attic crawl space at his grandfather's house in Southwest Baltimore.

"As the crawl space door was pulled down, the suspect began to fire on the tactical officers down below," said Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier. "The police officer was struck on the top of his tactical vest. The suspect ran out of ammunition, reloaded and got into a second gunfight and was killed."

The 39-year-old officer, who has been on the force 17 years, spent about three hours in surgery last night. Doctors planned to remove bullet fragments from his shoulder, but were expected to leave the .44 caliber bullet lodged in the officer's back.

"It seems to be doing no damage that is life-threatening or organ-threatening," said Dr. Andrew Burgess, an orthopedic surgeon at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. But he said the fragments "may have some long-term effect" on Street's arm.

The doctor said the bullet "traveled down along the backside of his back along the rib cage, did some moderate damage to the area where the lungs are enclosed and has lodged behind the kidney."

Burgess said the officer was in stable condition, talking and "in good humor."

The events that led to the standoff began about 12: 30 a.m. in western Baltimore County when a patrol officer stopped a stolen 1987 Chevrolet Spectrum on Windsor Mill Road near the Woodlawn Precinct station.

Police said two occupants -- a 17-year-old girl and a 23-year-old man -- were arrested. But the third suspect ran. He was tackled by an officer, but got away, and police said he fired once at county officers as he escaped. The bullet hit the side of the police station.

Police traced the gunman to his grandfather's house in the 4400 block of Mountview Road in the city. County and city police went to the house to serve an arrest warrant yesterday morning, saw )) the man run out of the house and then run back inside.

Frazier said other occupants of the house left, and police tried to negotiate with the suspect for several hours. "We could get no response," said Maj. Art Smith, head of the tactical section, so at 1 p.m. officers entered the house.

They searched the basement and worked their way up to the attic. Frazier said the gunman fired with a .44 magnum handgun when officers pulled down the door in the ceiling. Police returned fire but missed the gunman.

The officer was hit during the first exchange. Police said the gunfire stopped briefly, and as officers attended to their wounded colleague, the gunman reloaded. Police tossed tear-gas into the attic, prompting the suspect to come down the stairs firing more shots.

Officers opened fire again, killing the suspect. Police could not say last night how many shots were fired or how many officers were involved. They said they don't believe the wounded officer fired his weapon.

Frazier said the bullet that hit the officer struck him on top of protective straps that hold the front and back panels of the vest.

"It was a powerful handgun," he said. "The bullet certainly did penetrate the vest. We're certainly glad the officer was wearing it. It certainly was a positive in terms of the officer's condition."

Pub Date: 11/09/96

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