Police shoot, kill man W. Baltimore gunfight injures two officers, touches off near-riot

Angry crowd tosses bottles

Friends of dead man call him 'respectful'

Schmoke defends act

March 02, 1997|By John Rivera and Brenda J. Buote | John Rivera and Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

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 the more than 100 people who gathered outside and screamed obscenities and threw bottles at police and the news media.

One officer, identified as a 32-year-old with 10 years on the force, was shot in the hand. The other, a 31-year-old with 11 years on the force, was shot in the foot.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

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 house.

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. That's when he was shot in the foot."

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

The officers were taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Their conditions were not available, although the officer shot in the hand was expected to be released last night, 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.

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.

There were reports of shots fired, and bottles were thrown at police and reporters who responded to the scene. Several television crews pulled out.

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."

Police officials and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke 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."

Schmoke arrived at Shock Trauma about 11: 30 p.m. to visit the wounded officers. "The officers took very courageous actions tonight trying to get more guns off the streets," Schmoke said.

"The officers, from what I understand, tried to take precautions to end the confrontation without violence, but obviously, they were unable," he said.

"The action they took was appropriate. They ought to be commended. I think once the facts get out, people will understand what really happened."

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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