A Baltimore County police officer shot a woman during the search of a house in Dundalk early yesterday, police said, and she was later pronounced dead at the scene.
The shooting occurred about 5 a.m. as police were executing a narcotics search warrant in the 8100 block of Del Haven Road, said Officer Shawn Vinson, a police spokesman.
The warrant was being served as part of an investigation involving that residence, he said.
When police arrived, Vinson said, officers set off a device that makes a loud noise and a flash to distract the occupants of a home. Police also identified themselves, Vinson said.
Officers detained two people found on the first floor of the townhouse while two other officers approached a closed bedroom door on the second floor.
According to Vinson, when the officers opened the door, Cheryl Lynn Noel, 44, pointed a handgun at them. One of the officers, who was not identified, fired at the woman, Vinson said.
The officer appears to have fired his gun three times, Vinson said, but police do not know how many times the woman was hit.
A gun was recovered, but Vinson said he did not know whether the woman had shot at the officers.
No one else in the house was injured.
Three other people from the house were in police custody yesterday afternoon, but no charges had been filed, police said.
Several neighbors said they were awakened by the sound of the distraction device and rose to see officers seeming to swarm the home down the block.
"It sounded like a bomb," said Jennifer Dunphy, who lives down the block. "We heard them say, `If you don't let us in, we will use force,' but we didn't hear any gunshots."
Dunphy said that police officers went door to door about 9 a.m. to tell residents what had happened, Dunphy said.
Dunphy, who has lived on Del Haven Road for the past year, said she was surprised by the raid, as was her mother, Deborah Lupton, a Baltimore resident who hurried over to her daughter's home after hearing about the shooting on the news.
"This stuff doesn't happen here," Lupton said.
However, a neighbor who lives a few doors down from where the shooting occurred said she's seen the neighborhood change over the past decade.
The street is made up of several blocks of brick townhouses, with ample yards and front porches.
The neighbor, who did not want to give her name because she fears retaliation, said she's seen more suspicious activity over the past few years.
The officer who shot Noel has been placed on administrative leave, Vinson said.
The shooting is being investigated by the department's homicide and internal affairs units, and the results of the investigation will be submitted to the Baltimore County state's attorney's office.