Probe under way in police shooting

A plainclothes officer opens fire, killing man pointing revolver, department says

June 21, 2007|By Richard Irwin and Liz F. Kay | Richard Irwin and Liz F. Kay,Sun Reporters

A city police officer fatally shot an East Baltimore man yesterday afternoon after police say the man pointed a large-caliber revolver at two undercover officers during a confrontation on a normally quiet street in the Berea neighborhood.

Last night, police identified the victim as Devine Moore, 23, of the 3000 block of E. Monument St. Plainclothes officers in an unmarked vehicle began following Moore and two other men after seeing one of them holding a gun, said Officer Nicole Monroe, a city police spokeswoman.

When Officer Luis Ruiz stepped from his vehicle to approach Moore, the suspect pointed a loaded .357 Magnum handgun at him, and the officer fired several shots, striking Moore at least once in the chest, Monroe said. Moore died later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"Both officers feared for their safety and one of them shot the man," Monroe said.

Ruiz, who has been on the force for nearly six years, has been placed on routine administrative leave pending a police investigation of the shooting.

Moore's mother, Jennifer Hopkins, said last night that she was upset by the shooting and was skeptical of the police account based on her conversations with people at the scene later.

She described her son as "happy-go-lucky" and "a young adult trying to find his way."

"He just wasn't that kind of child. He wasn't disrespectful," Hopkins said.

Her fiance, Don Lincoln, said Moore worked for him part time on general contracting jobs. He described the news of Moore's death as a shock.

"I'm very enraged," Lincoln said.

Yesterday's fatal police-involved shooting was the fifth this year. Last year, police fatally shot five people.

Monroe, the city police spokeswoman, gave this account:

About 4:30 p.m., two plainclothes officers assigned to the Eastern District's flex-squad were in an unmarked black compact police car in the 2800 block of E. Preston St. at North Linwood Avenue, when they observed three men standing nearby, one of whom had a handgun. The flex squad is a unit assigned to investigate crime in specific neighborhoods.

When the three men began to run, the officers followed them in the car while identifying themselves as police.

As the men ran north to the 2800 block of E. Hoffman St., a block away, they split up. When the police car neared Moore, Ruiz, who was driving, stepped out of the vehicle. The plainclothes officers wore police identification around their necks.

Moore was several yards away when he turned around and pointed a gun at the officer.

Moore refused to drop his weapon. Ruiz drew his .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun service weapon and fired, striking Moore.

He fell to the ground, and mortally wounded, dropped his weapon, which was recovered near a storm drain at the intersection.

No shots were fired by the gunman.

The victim's companions fled on foot, police said.

However, one was observed fleeing by the crew of a police helicopter responding to the shooting and was arrested a few blocks away.

He was taken to police headquarters, Monroe said. The third man was being sought.

Monroe said city Fire Department medics performed first aid on the gunman as he lay in the street before he was taken to nearby Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he died in the emergency room shortly after arriving.

Monroe said the two officers and a few residents of the neighborhood who may have witnessed the shooting were interviewed by homicide detectives at police headquarters.

Ruiz's police handgun was seized by detectives for forensic examination, as required after a police-involved shooting. The gunman's weapon also was examined to see whether it had been used in a crime, police said.

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