Wounded state trooper is improving

Tfc. Eric Workman, shot while trying to serve arrest warrant, still in critical condition but sits up in bed

December 14, 2006|By Laura Barnhardt and Nick Shields | Laura Barnhardt and Nick Shields,sun reporters

Tfc. Eric D. Workman sat up in his hospital bed yesterday. He nodded his head.

And, his father said, he squeezed the hands of friends and relatives who have been gathering at Maryland Shock Trauma Center since Workman was shot while trying to arrest a robbery suspect early Tuesday.

Workman remained in critical condition yesterday, but his health status was described as stable, and he was showing signs of improvement.

"He's not out of the woods by any means," Gary D. "Buzz" Workman, the trooper's father, said at an afternoon media briefing outside the hospital. But "he looks good. His color is good. They say he's well ahead of what they expected."

The elder Workman, a retired U.S. Secret Service officer from West Virginia, said he was hopeful that his son would eventually return home with him to finish his recovery, as the trooper did after he was hit by a car on the Capital Beltway while on duty eight years ago.

"I have a fishing pond," the father said with a smile.

During the trooper's last convalescence, his father said, he managed to drive out to the pond wearing all of his bandages and splints. "He loves to fish," the father said.

The 36-year-old trooper was with a task force that was seeking to arrest a suspect wanted in a home invasion last week in Carroll County. Steven Tyrone Jones - a recently released drug offender who had previously been accused of ramming a police car to avoid arrest - came out of a second-floor bedroom and shot at the officers, police said.

The officers returned fire, killing Jones, police said.

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

State police revealed additional details yesterday about the early morning raid at a house in the 5500 block of Forest Ave., off Baltimore National Pike just west of the city-county line.

Five officers entered the home, and four others were stationed outside, said Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman.

Shipley said he did not know how many shots were fired during the gunbattle but that the investigation shows Workman was one of the officers who returned fire.

Law enforcement experts say that officers, when preparing to serve a warrant, often consider the suspect's background, such as whether he has a history of resisting arrest, and try to learn as much as possible about the layout of the building before entering.

Asked about such factors in Tuesday's incident, Shipley said he did not know all of the specifics of the raid or declined to reveal tactics of the task force. But he pointed out the task force members are "seasoned police officers."

"They are skilled members of the task force. ... They do it every day, and they've done it for years, and this was not a group of rookie police officers on their first arrest," he said.

Lt. Col. Steven McMahon of the Baltimore police, who supervises the regional task force that was trying to serve the warrant, said it is not unusual for officers to go to the second floor to pursue a suspect.

Tactical training

"We're going to search the house from top to bottom. Our guys have received tactical training" to perform such a search, he said.

McMahon said the members of the task force are "probably the best group of people I've worked with."

Jones, 38, had an arrest record dating to 1986. He had been convicted of theft, burglary and eluding police.

He was sentenced in 2003 to five years in prison on a drug charge. His release in June was "mandatory" under state law, based on credits earned through his conduct, the chairman of the state parole commission said. He had remained under the supervision of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation.

His father, Michael Rock, who lives in the Forest Avenue home, has said that the officers continued to shoot Jones after he was lying on the floor. Police have disputed Rock's account.

Workman, a decorated nine-year officer, was leading the investigation into the home invasion last 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.

The man's relatives alerted authorities, and Baltimore County police rescued him and arrested a suspect who was being held yesterday without bail at the Carroll County Detention Center.

Authorities obtained an arrest warrant for Jones, charging him with 60 offenses in last week's home invasion.

At the check-cashing business, Village Services on Liberty Road in Randallstown, two women behind a window at the front desk said yesterday that they knew nothing of the incident and that the employee named as the victim in police charging documents no longer works there.

Several miles west in Eldersburg, no one answered the door at the one-story home where the victims were restrained and robbed.

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