City officers shoot, kill knife-wielding woman

January 20, 1998|By Jamie Smith | Jamie Smith,SUN STAFF

In the third police-involved shooting in the city this year -- and the second that ended in a death -- a woman described as "incoherent" was killed yesterday by officers after she allegedly chased them with a knife.

Blanche Harriet Baker, 50, of the 600 block of E. 41st St. was shot at least twice in the upper body, said Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a police spokeswoman. Officers had initially used pepper spray on Baker, but she would not drop her weapon or stop moving toward them, said Officer Gary McLhinney, president of the police union.

Cooper said "preliminary information" about the shooting -- which occurred in the 500 block of E. Cold Spring Lane in Govans, a neighborhood residents say is not known for violent crime -- suggested that the officers acted justifiably.

"The officers did everything they could as far as attempting [to get] the woman to drop the knife," said Cooper. " She continued to advance closer to the officers, according to both the officers and witnesses. It was at that time that two of the officers fired at the suspect."

The incident began shortly after 8 a.m., when police received a call from a resident about a woman roaming the area, armed with a knife. Cooper said Baker "seemed to be somewhat incoherent" and was "pretty oblivious" to what officers said to her.

After unsuccessful attempts to subdue Baker, Northern District Officers Daniel Beresh, 25, and Carl Rach, 27, fired at least two shots at her, Cooper said. Both have been on the force for less than five years.

Baker died just before 9 a.m. at Sinai Hospital.

Pub Date: 1/20/98

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