Body armor protects officer who was shot


September 08, 2006|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Sun reporter

A Baltimore police officer assigned to a robbery-prevention detail in Patterson Park was shot last night - but apparently saved from serious injury by his protective body armor - in a confrontation with an unknown assailant near Eastern Avenue, police said.

Officer Robert G. Cirello, a nearly four-year member of the police force assigned to the Southeastern District's operations unit, was patrolling in uniform south of the park's landmark pagoda about 10 p.m. when he apparently confronted at least one suspicious male, police said.

Moments later, police said, Cirello radioed that he needed assistance and a dispatcher broadcast a Signal 13 - an emergency alert that an officer needs help.

Officers from the Southeastern, Central and Eastern districts, along with city sheriff's deputies, rushed to and surrounded the park. Cirello was found lying on the ground, bleeding from a minor head cut, police said.

A closer examination showed Cirello had been shot in the chest, but that the bullet failed to penetrate his body armor, police said.

Exactly what happened, including whether the assailant was shot or injured, was not immediately known but officers were checking hospitals for people seeking treatment for a gunshot wound.

Cirello was taken by ambulance to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center and was treated for an injury that was not life-threatening, said Officer Troy Harris, a police spokesman.

Harris said the force of the bullet's impact knocked the officer down, adding that it is mandatory for uniformed officers to wear body armor.

For nearly two hours, an intense hunt for Cirello's assailant, including a police helicopter that hovered above the park area, failed to turn up a suspect.

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