Angry crowd fights police Baltimore residents protest slaying of man by two police officers

Protesters throw bottles

Friend of dead man calls him 'respectful'

Schmoke defends acts

March 02, 1997|By John Rivera and Brenda J. Buote | John Rivera and Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Howard Libit contributed to this article.

A man shot and wounded two Baltimore police officers last night inside a West Baltimore rowhouse before one of the officers fired back and killed the suspect, touching off a near-riot by grieving neighbors and relatives.

The shooting at 9: 30 p.m. in the 700 block of W. Lanvale St. in the Upton neighborhood brought an angry reaction from more than 100 people who gathered outside, screamed obscenities and threw bottles at police and the news media.

For about 1 1/2 hours after the shooting, the crowd raged. At least three women cried hysterically, and many shouted threats and obscenities. Police from three districts, along with heavily armed tactical officers, were called in.

"We're outnumbered; we need some additional units," an officer shouted on his police radio. "Have those units respond now. It's starting to get pretty ugly."

There were reports of shots fired, and bottles were thrown at police and reporters. Several television crews pulled out. Windows of an unmarked car belonging to homicide detectives were shattered. The crowd quieted down by about 11 p.m. By 12: 15 a.m., officers pulled down the yellow crime scene tape and left the scene.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke praised the two officers. "The action they took was appropriate," he said. "They ought to be commended. I think once the facts get out, people will understand what really happened."

The incident began shortly before 9: 30 p.m., when two tactical officers, members of a squad that works in parts of the city with the highest crime, received information that a man was carrying a gun on West Lanvale Street, police said.

The officers responded to the report and saw a man fitting the description they had received.

When they approached the man, he ran to a three-story, Formstone rowhouse and kicked in the door, police said.

Residents were at home, on the second and third floors of the rowhouse.

The officers followed the man into the house. He ran into a dark hallway and started up a stairway to the second floor, where he turned around and fired several shots at the officers.

"One of the officers saw the barrel of the gun pointed at his chest," said Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman. "The gun was in his chest. He grabbed it and pushed it down."

One of the officers returned fire, killing the man, whose identity was not released last night.

The officers were taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Bradley Thomas, 32, a 10-year veteran, was shot in the right thumb. Mark Janicki, 31, an 11-year veteran, was shot in the right foot.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

Thomas was expected to be released early today, Ringgold said.

The other officer appeared to be wounded more seriously. "The officer who was shot in the foot, it appears he might have sustained damage to the bone," said Col. Ronald L. Daniel, chief of the field operations bureau.

"I spoke with both officers. They're both alert, and their first concern was the welfare of the other," said Gary McLhinney, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3.

Friends of the dead man defended him.

"He was no nasty guy," said Milton Fletcher, 41, who lives a block from the shooting scene. "He would have been respectful if they had wanted to talk to him. I don't even think he knew the officers were there."

Daria Weeks, who said the dead man is the father of her 4-year-old child, said the boy did not know what happened to his father. "He thinks his dad just left for the night and is OK," she said. "It's going to be really hard to explain this to him."

Police officials defended the officers' actions.

"This was a very, very violent confrontation," said Agent Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman. "We are very fortunate that an officer was not killed this evening."

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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