City man charged in officer's shooting

Near-fatal attack draws attempted murder count

Colleague credited in saving life

July 23, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber and Josh Mitchell | Del Quentin Wilber and Josh Mitchell,SUN STAFF

An 18-year-old man was charged yesterday in an attack that left a Baltimore police officer so seriously injured that he might have bled to death on a Pimlico sidewalk without the help of a quick-thinking colleague who fought to save his life.

Neil E. Glover of the 2000 block of N. Fulton Ave. was being held last night without bail on a count of attempted murder even as Officer Chris Houser, 29, was making a strong recovery from the wound that nearly killed him late Saturday.

Houser and several other officers in plain clothes were arresting a man on drug charges in a rough part of Northwest Baltimore when shots rang out from across the street. Houser went down.

As Houser screamed in pain, Officer William P. Hoover discovered a bullet wound in his colleague's right shoulder that was spewing blood. Hoover immediately plugged the hole with a finger and rolled Houser over, finding the exit wound. He covered that as well.

As Houser nodded into unconsciousness, two other officers lifted the wounded man's legs, forcing blood into his heart. Their efforts brought Houser back.

"It was scary for a little bit," Hoover said. "It didn't look real good."

Within hours of the shooting in the 3500 block of W. Belvedere Ave., police picked up Glover for questioning.

Police say Glover fired at the officers to prevent the arrest of a cousin, Elliott T. Reed, 18, whom police had spotted selling drugs in that block. Reed, who ran away from the shooting in handcuffs and wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, was being sought by detectives last night on a warrant charging him with drug distribution.

Police were led to Glover, they said, after finding a witness who told detectives that the 18-year-old approached her after the shooting and asked her to hold a handgun for $100.

Glover and Reed had also bragged to others that they would "shoot police if they attempted to interfere with the distribution of their illegal narcotics" in the 3500 block of W. Belvedere Ave., police said. Another witness told detectives that Glover was the only person near the shooting scene with a handgun, police said.

During questioning by detectives, Glover said he did not shoot the officer but acknowledged he was "merely a `lookout'" for the real gunman, police wrote in court papers.

Houser is the third officer shot in the past year-and-a-half while trying to make an arrest. In March 2001, Officer Michael Cowdery was fatally shot on Harford Road. That month, Officer Willie D. Grandy was ambushed and shot in the leg as he arrested a 16-year-old on marijuana charges.

Police said the latest attack continues the trend, with Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris calling the shooting "an outrage."

"To have someone fire a shot from across the street at police officers doing their jobs, just arresting someone for drug sales - it's outrageous," Norris said Sunday.

Bouncing back

Though Houser was "pretty sick and had lost a lot of blood" when he arrived at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, the officer has made substantial progress in only two days, said Dr. Tom Scalea, the center's physician-in-chief. And it was Houser's fellow officers who made the difference in those first minutes, according the doctor. Scalea said he was surprised that Houser "bounced back that quickly," but the officer's relatives expected nothing less.

"This is just a temporary setback," said his father, Barry Houser.

Houser, who was raised in Camp Hill, Pa., excelled in sports and dreamed of playing professional baseball like his father, a former minor-leaguer. The aspiring athlete worked hard, putting in long hours at the gym, shooting hoops and taking batting practice.

After graduating from Cedar Cliff High School in 1991, he attended Susquehanna University in Selingsgrove, Pa., where he gave up baseball and devoted himself to basketball. At 6-foot-6, Houser started at center.

After graduating with a degree in marketing, Houser sold insurance and was a manager at a shipping company, but those jobs proved too dull, family members say.

A brother-in-law - a police officer in Baltimore's Northwest District - encouraged him to apply for a job with the city force. He immediately fell in love with police work.

"He likes the action of it," his father said.

Dedicated to his work

Fellow officers and family members say Houser never cuts corners, writing search warrant applications at home and often staying late at the district station to make sure his paperwork is in perfect order. He also eats a strict diet, mostly of chicken, and rises early to lift weights for at least an hour a day.

"He is meticulous," Barry Houser said.

Family members and colleagues said Houser - who enjoys growing flowers and peppers - will push himself to recover quickly.

"They'll have to keep him down," said his wife, Debra. "He would have gotten out of that bed today if they would have let him."

Houser is also known for his sharp wit.

In his hospital room yesterday, Houser was communicating with friends and family members by spelling out words on a board.

Instead of complaining, he sent the room into laughter with a laconic observation: "This is a fiasco."

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