2 officers shot in E. Baltimore

Police kill gunman

standoff near Hopkins in second incident

March 27, 2001|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Two Baltimore police officers were shot in separate attacks yesterday as they took part in aggressive crime-fighting initiatives ordered to help end what the mayor described as years of crime and drugs shackling the city.

Police said Officer Willie D. Grandy, 40, a member of an east-side task force targeting crime in the city's most troubled area, was ambushed yesterday afternoon and shot in the leg as he arrested a 16-year-old on a marijuana charge in East Baltimore's Oldtown neighborhood.

The gunman ran into a house, leading to a two-hour standoff in a courtyard two blocks east of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Heavily armed officers evacuated neighbors, rushed the house and carried several children to safety before arresting three males inside. They were being questioned last night.

Earlier, Officer Anthony R. Molesky, 37, who was on routine patrol but keeping an eye on Southeast Baltimore taverns that have been robbed repeatedly in recent weeks, was seriously wounded in both legs with a .44-caliber revolver while trying to arrest passengers in a stolen car outside a restaurant, police said.

Officers taking part in the arrest shot and killed the gunman, later identified as Damon Hilton, 24, of the 1100 block of N. Bond St. in East Baltimore.

Mayor Martin O'Malley, after visiting two wounded officers at area hospitals in 12 hours, called the attacks a direct result of police targeting and frustrating criminals by making the lucrative drug trade more difficult.

"This is the backlash from a city that has been under drug occupation for many years," O'Malley said. "None of us thought this was going to be an easy task, but the city is becoming a safer place. It's not without cost. It's not without risk."

In the past two weeks, one Baltimore officer has been shot and killed and three others wounded. Two suspects have been shot and killed by police, another wounded and a fourth shot at by an officer.

Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said "public outrage would be in order," and added that criminals, apparently unable to sell drugs as openly as in the past, have become bolder in their attacks on police.

He called the wounding of Grandy "eerily similar" to the fatal shooting of Agent Michael J. Cowdery, who was gunned down March 12 while questioning a woman on Harford Road.

Like Cowdery, Grandy was working plainclothes duty and was assigned to the Eastside Initiative task force.

Norris expressed anger at the high-powered revolver used in the Molesky shooting.

"It's a cannon," Norris said of the 14-inch Ruger Blackhawk, which sells at retail for about $650 and is commonly used by deer hunters. "It's like what they used in Dirty Harry movies."

The Molesky shooting occurred about 12:30 a.m. in front of the Crossroads Restaurant at Foster and South Highland avenues in Highlandtown, in an area where six taverns had been held up in recent weeks.

Molesky, a 13-year veteran, stopped behind a double-parked 1986 Lincoln Town Car, had a dispatcher check the license plate and was told that the vehicle had been reported stolen Sunday.

Other officers were summoned, and guns drawn, they ordered the five occupants out of the car one at a time.

A police spokesman, Agent Martin Bartness, said a man who got out of the back seat stiff-armed Molesky, whose gun was holstered, and struggled as the officer attempted to search him.

Bartness said the man pulled the gun from the front of his pants and shot Molesky twice, once in each leg.

Molesky and at least two other officers shot the man from about three feet away, hitting him several times in the upper body, police said. Molesky fired his 9 mm Glock semiautomatic pistol 14 times before collapsing from his wounds.

The Ruger was reported stolen two years ago in Anne Arundel County, police said.

Officers found cocaine on the body of the gunman and a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol under the car's back seat, police said.

Hilton, who died at the scene, was on probation for a 1998 drug conviction for which he served 18 months in prison. A trial on another drug charge was scheduled for April 4.

The driver of the Lincoln, Hailee Ra, 18, who now lives in Florida but formerly lived in the 100 block of S. Highland Ave., was charged with driving a stolen car, police said. Keyon Johnson, 19, of the first block of W. 27th St., was charged with handgun possession. Two other passengers were questioned and released.

Maj. Zeinab Rabold, the Southeastern District commander and Molesky's boss, suggested that the suspects might have been staking out the restaurant.

"It's very unusual to be outside a bar with two guns in the car," Rabold said. "The officer was right where he was supposed to be."

However, police said yesterday that no link to the tavern holdups had been made.

Molesky was listed in serious condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

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