1 bullet caused death of suspect 7 officers had fired weapons, police say

December 10, 1997|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A 43-year-old robbery suspect shot to death by county police Saturday was killed by a single bullet that struck him in the back of his neck, a state medical examiner said yesterday.

Kevin P. Ferguson, who police believed was armed and involved in other armed robberies, was shot at just after 6 a.m. as he drove a stolen Mercedes-Benz through a police roadblock in Glen Burnie, rammed three cruisers, drove onto a sidewalk and ran from police.

Detectives lafter found that Ferguson, a convicted thief who lived in the 4200 block of Wentworth Road in Baltimore, was carrying a starter's pistol in his pocket but he never displayed the weapon to police, a spokesman said.

Homicide detectives are investigating the incident -- the third police-involved shooting in five weeks -- but a spokesman said the officers did not use excessive force.

"This was a deadly force situation," said Lt. Jeff Kelly, police spokesman. "He absolutely represented an immediate threat."

According to police, Ferguson had robbed a Shell station on Ritchie Highway at McKinsey Road and was pursued by officers into a dead-end road after being seen driving a car matching the description of the robber's vehicle north on Ritchie Highway minutes lafter.

Ferguson, who was sentenced to three years in prison in 1993 for felony theft, was believed responsible for two armed robberies Nov. 21. in which he walked up to men at automated teller machines in Linthicum and Glen Burnie with a silver handgun. He was able to get one of the men to withdraw money from the machine, police said.

In both cases, the gunman threw the victim's keys into bushes as he drove off in a black Mercedes Benz, police reports said. One victim gave police a license tag number, and they later found the car had been stolen from Fairfax County, Virginia.

Police who spotted the car northbound on Ritchie Highway near Route 10 pulled behind it and followed it as Ferguson sped north on Route 10 to Ordnance Road, police said.

When Ferguson turned into Baymeadow Drive, a dead-end road leading into an industrial park, police tried to block it, but Ferguson made a quick U-turn and tried to run down the officers who began shooting, Kelly said.

Ferguson managed to get to Ordnance Road, where the Mercedes hit three cruisers, one occupied by an officer who was not hurt, police said. The Mercedes veered onto a concrete median on Ordnance Road where it became stuck and Ferguson jumped out of the car and ran across Ordnance Road, police said.

Officers shot at Ferguson again as he ran, according to reports, and Ferguson collapsed on a grassy slope below the Price Club Plaza parking lot. He was declared dead at the scene.

"The suspect was running in the direction of some buildings," Kelly said. "If he got to an area where he had cover, he was at a complete advantage over our officers who were still out in the open. It's not an issue of fairness; it's an issue of safety. Just because the person is not a threat at that exact second doesn't mean that he won't be a threat in the next second."

Kelly said detectives believe seven officers fired their weapons, but only one hit Ferguson, according to the medical examiner's report. Police did not divulge how many shots were fired.

Reassigned to administrative tasks -- a routine step during investigations of police-involved shootings -- were Officers Leroy Coking and Dirk Rinehart, both of the Northern District; and Officers Andrew Albach, Steven Cooper, Thomas Tyzack and Ervin Lemaster, and Sgt. Allen Muir, all of the Eastern District.

Pub Date: 12/10/97

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