Man, 20, charged in the shooting of city policeman

Undercover vice officer in critical condition

April 01, 2006|By GUS G. SENTEMENTES | GUS G. SENTEMENTES,SUN REPORTER

A South Baltimore man was charged with attempted murder yesterday in the shooting of a plainclothes city police officer who remained in critical condition at a downtown hospital last night.

The suspect, Jobrey Lodge, 20, had been wounded in the leg in a midday shootout Thursday with the officer in the Westport neighborhood, police said. A police spokeswoman said Lodge was being held last night at the Central Booking and Intake Center in the shooting of Officer Dante N. Hemingway.

The 28-year-old officer, who worked in the organized crime division's vice unit, was on duty when police say he had a confrontation with a man in a public housing community shortly after 1 p.m.

Gunfire erupted in the 2400 block of Wilgrey Court, between rows of two-story apartments. Police said Hemingway emptied his handgun, firing 14 rounds, and was shot three times. Police said about 20 bullets were fired during the shootout.

Matt Jablow, a police spokesman, said Hemingway used his cellular telephone to call the Southern District station for assistance after he was shot. It was not clear why he did not dial 911 or use a police radio.

Hemingway's handgun was missing after Thursday's shooting, but was found a few hours later in the neighborhood. Another weapon believed to be used in the shooting - a .32-caliber revolver - also was recovered, police said yesterday. Jablow said police were conducting ballistics tests on the guns.

Police investigators also are trying to determine what Hemingway was investigating in the neighborhood and the circumstances that led to the shootout. Hemingway investigates prostitution offenses, which residents said are a problem on Hollins Ferry Road, which runs next to the apartments where the shooting occurred.

Lt. Paul Blair Jr., the city police union president and former head of the vice unit, said it is not uncommon for vice officers to travel widely around the city and to not wear bullet-resistant vests to avoid detection. He said that officers continued to stay by Hemingway and his family at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The officer is "far from out of danger," but doctors at the hospital were pleased with his progress, Blair said.

"He's been able to respond and move some fingers and open his eyes, but he hasn't communicated yet," the union president said.

Hemingway was shot in the neck, chest and stomach, police said. Blair said that doctors were expected to perform additional surgery today.

A day after police locked down the Westport community, children played in the streets and rode bicycles yesterday. Lodge's grandmother, who was interviewed by detectives Thursday, said he had been living with her in her home on Dorton Court for four months.

Catherine Williams, 75, said Lodge finished high school and worked at one of the stadiums - Oriole Park at Camden Yards or M&T Bank Stadium - though she couldn't remember which one.

Lodge is the half-brother of Jovan House, who was convicted with two other men in the execution-style slaying of Detective Thomas G. Newman outside a Southeast Baltimore bar in 2002.

Williams said she didn't believe her grandson was involved in the shooting, and said she thinks that he got caught in the middle of the shootout. Lodge's mother was at the hospital Thursday and yesterday, trying to get access to see her son, Williams said.

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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