Officer kills man wanted in robbery

Police say victim didn't obey order to drop weapon

May 31, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

An 18-year-old man who authorities said tried to rob a woman at gunpoint on a West Baltimore street early yesterday was shot and killed by a city police officer who had chased him into a back alley.

Police identified the man as Eugene Washington of the 3200 block of Hamilton Ave. They said he was shot in the head and chest, and that an unloaded 9 mm handgun was found by his body.

The shooting at 2 a.m. in the 2100 block of Edmondson Ave. marked the seventh time this year that a city officer has shot a civilian. Three of the shootings have been fatal.

About 7: 30 p.m. Monday, another officer fired several shots into a stolen car in the 2400 block of Edmondson Ave., three blocks away but did not hit anyone.

Police identified the officer who fired the fatal shots as John Pizzurro, 29, a three-year veteran assigned to the Western District. He has been placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of an investigation.

Holdup reported

Sgt. Scott Rowe, a police spokesman, said the incident began shortly before 2 a.m. when Michelle Stewart, 47, reported being held up at gunpoint in the 2000 block of W. Lanvale St.

Stewart said her attacker as wearing a gray sweat shirt, a white T-shirt and white Nike sneakers. She told investigators that the man ran away when he found that she did not have money.

A few minutes later, police officers reported spotting a man wearing clothes meeting that description on Edmondson Avenue. Pizzurro chased the man down an alley behind rowhouses on the north side of the 2100 block of Edmondson Ave., behind New Johnson's Lounge.

The man turned right at McDowell's Auto Service, which uses the wide alley as an entrance, and down a trash-filled, 30-foot-long, 3-foot-wide passage that ends at an abandoned rowhouse.

Several shots fired

Rowe said Pizzurro gave the man, who was backed against a wall and facing him, "a verbal command to drop the weapon. There was no compliance." Rowe said the officer then fired several shots -- the number had not been determined yesterday -- hitting the man several times.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Rowe said there were no witnesses. The other officer who was closest was turning into the passage as the shots were being fired, he said.

Neighbors said they heard six to eight shots, but none said they saw what happened or knew the man.

Rowe said the man is thought to have held up the woman. Police would not say whether the woman has identified the dead man as her attacker.

The earlier incident, three blocks to the west, began as a routine traffic stop of a 1991 Lexus for running a red light. Police said the driver became combative with the officer and ran away.

Police chased him around the block, back to Edmondson, where the man jumped into the passenger seat of a 1985 Cadillac that was parked on the curb, they said. The driver jumped out, police said.

Rowe said the suspect slid behind the wheel and sped east on Edmondson toward Officer Stanley Price, 24, of the Western District, and that Price opened fire on the car as it came at him, firing five shots that hit the hood and windshield.

The spokesman said the car "narrowly missed" Price as it sped by, the driver apparently unharmed. Police said they found the Cadillac in the 600 block of N. Brice St. No blood was found, and no arrest had been made late yesterday.

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