Policeman shot during arrest in Pimlico

Officer in critical condition after being wounded in undercover drug operation

July 21, 2002|By Ariel Sabar | Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police officer was in critical condition early this morning after he was shot last night during an undercover drug investigation in the Pimlico area of Northwest Baltimore, authorities said.

Officer Christopher Houser, a member of the Police Department for four years, and three other plainclothes officers were arresting a suspect on a porch in the 3500 block of W. Belvedere Ave. when shots were fired at them from across the street about 11:45 last night.

A bullet struck Houser, 30, in the shoulder and pierced his lung.

The handcuffed suspect and the unknown gunman fled the scene, prompting police to seal off the area and launch a manhunt.

Houser was taken to University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he underwent surgery early this morning.

Doctors said Houser was on life support.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris went to the scene. Norris and Mayor Martin O'Malley later went to the hospital, as did Houser's parents, who were escorted to the hospital by police on motorcyles.

The shooting occurred along a street lined with tumbledown rowhouses. The block contains a barbershop, a small grocery store, and many boarded-up rowhouses.

Officers were called in from across the city to secure the crime scene, leading to a few complaints from residents elsewhere about slow response times.

Residents sat on front steps watching the flashing emergency lights as officers went door to door questioning residents. A dozen police cars and a crime lab van converged on the area, and a police helicopter hovered overhead.

One officer who patrolled the area for 10 years said drugs are a common problem in the neighorhood, which borders Pimlico Race Course.

"When I worked here, they respected us," said the officer, who was directing traffic around the crime scene. "Things have changed."

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