Wounded trooper clinging to life

Trauma surgeon fights to save friend for 2nd time

Attempt to arrest man sparks gunbattle

suspect is fatally shot

December 13, 2006|By Nick Shields and Annie Linskey | Nick Shields and Annie Linskey,Sun reporters

A Maryland state trooper suffered life-threatening injuries yesterday when police closing in on a robbery suspect traded shots with the man - a recently released drug offender who had previously been accused of ramming a police car to avoid arrest.

Tfc. Eric D. Workman underwent two surgeries after being shot during a pre-dawn raid at a Baltimore County home. He was in critical condition early today in the intensive care unit at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Workman, 36, was with a task force that was seeking to arrest Steven Tyrone Jones, who was wanted in a home invasion last week in Carroll County. Police said Jones - who had been out of prison for less than six months - shot at the officers, who returned fire, killing the man.

FOR THE RECORD - In some editions of yesterday's Sun, an article on the shooting of a state trooper as officers attempted to arrest a robbery suspect incorrectly reported that the suspect had been released from prison in June on parole. The suspect, Steven Tyrone Jones, remained under the supervision of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, but his release was "mandatory" under state law, based on credits earned through his conduct in prison, according to state officials.
THE SUN REGRETS THE ERROR

A shot struck Workman, who was wearing a protective vest, under his arm. The bullet pierced one of his lungs.

He was operated on by Shock Trauma's chief physician - who had befriended Workman after treating him eight years ago when he was hit by a car while on duty.

The shooting brought leaders of Maryland's law enforcement community to the Baltimore hospital, anxiously awaiting word on their colleague's condition.

"He is known as one tough trooper," said State Police Superintendent Col. Thomas E. "Tim" Hutchins.

Workman, a highly decorated nine-year veteran of the agency, was leading the investigation into the home invasion that occurred Thursday night in Eldersburg. Police said two men in ski masks broke into the home of a man who worked at a check-cashing company, bound four people there with handcuffs and duct tape, and robbed them.

One of the robbers then drove the employee to his workplace in Randallstown and forced him inside at gunpoint.

But the man's relatives alerted authorities, and Baltimore County police rescued him and arrested a suspect. They obtained an arrest warrant for Jones, charging him with 60 offenses in last week's home invasion.

Workman and members of the Regional Warrant Apprehension Task Force searched several homes early yesterday and gathered information leading them to a house in the 5500 block of Forest Park Ave. in the Edmondson Heights area of Baltimore County, just west of the city line off Baltimore National Pike.

There, they saw a van believed to belong to Jones and telephoned the house, the home of Jones' father.

About 5 a.m. the occupants of the home let officers inside and told them the suspect was upstairs, police said. The officers, wearing clothing bearing the word police, identified themselves and displayed badges as they climbed the stairs, police said.

The 38-year-old suspect came out of a bedroom and immediately opened fire, according to police. Two officers returned fire, but Workman apparently was not one of them, police said.

Workman was at the bottom of the stairs and was struck by one bullet, police said. One of the officers, a paramedic, provided medical care to the trooper and the suspect, police said.

Jones was pronounced dead at the scene by arriving medics. Police said they recovered the handgun he used.

State police, who are leading the investigation with assistance from Baltimore County police, could not say how many shots were fired.

Jones had been living at the house since August, after being released from prison, said his father, Michael Rock. Yesterday, Rock pointed to six bullet holes at the top of a staircase and a circular area of tan carpet soaked with blood. Several small spots of blood dotted two white walls near the bullet holes. Rock stepped a few feet past the staircase into his son's room, where he pointed to two more bullet holes.

"Upstairs sounded like a war in Vietnam," Rock said.

Rock said he opened the door to let in about six police officers. He said his fiancee, Josie Ray, and his 7-year-old daughter were downstairs. He said police then walked upstairs toward his son's room.

"They said, `Steven Jones, we have a warrant for your arrest,'" Rock recalled. "I heard two shots go off, and then I heard a round of firing upstairs."

He said his fiancee and daughter rushed out of the house, and Workman came down the steps and collapsed near his front door.

"I look back and Steven Jones, he was laying on his back, laying on the staircase, his eyes wide open," Rock said. "If he wasn't dead, he wasn't far from it."

Rock said that as officers came down the steps, Workman said he was hit.

"At that time, the officer that was standing over top of [Jones], I saw him shoot my son at least four times, if not three," Rock said. He said an officer picked up a handgun from near his son.

State police spokesman Greg Shipley disputed the father's account, saying, "Police returned fire until [Jones] stopped firing. That is what we do know."

"Where everyone is and where they ended up is still being reconstructed. It is clear officers' lives were in jeopardy," Shipley said.

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