Police credit resident tips in shooting arrest

East Baltimore man, 26, is charged in the wounding of two city officers

August 01, 2007|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,sun reporter

Baltimore police said yesterday that information from neighborhood residents enabled them to quickly find and arrest a 26-year-old East Baltimore man who they believe opened fire on a police cruiser and wounded two officers.

"From the beginning we were getting very good cooperation from local residents - helping their Police Department to identify the suspect and recover evidence," said acting Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III at a brief news conference yesterday. "When we get [cooperation] the results speak for themselves."

Mayor Sheila Dixon echoed that sentiment. "Community engagement is so important," she said. "I believe that citizens are recognizing that this is a partnership. No matter where they live, they want to have safe environments."

Ranard D. Brown, 26, of East Baltimore was charged yesterday - less than 24 hours after the shootings - with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault and other weapons charges, police said. Police do not believe there were any other shooters.

Police said that Brown has been arrested 14 times, and a search of computerized records shows a list of mostly minor charges without any convictions.

At the news conference, Bealefeld said that the two injured officers, Loretta L. Francis and Karen D. Brzowsky, were driving to the 200 block of N. Port St. in Southeast Baltimore to investigate a report of a dice game about 6:30 p.m. Monday. As they approached, a gunman was in the midst of robbing the dice players, police said.

The gunman fired through the driver's side window of the cruiser - a bullet struck Brzowsky in the arm and grazed Francis' stomach.

Brzowsky was in good condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday, police said. Francis was treated Monday night and released. Police officials would not make either officer available for an interview yesterday.

Bealefeld would not comment on a motive for the shooting.

After Monday evening's shooting, officers flooded the area. "We dedicated an enormous amount of officers to the scene," Bealefeld said. "I don't think that, in and of itself, could overcome people's inhibitions. People stepped up."

Police recovered a gun near the crime scene that they believe was used in the shooting. The weapon was reported stolen several years ago in Virginia, Bealefeld said. He said police are still investigating how the gunman obtained it.

Detectives also entered two houses on the 200 block of N. Port St. and found drugs in one, Bealefeld said. Residents interviewed at those houses complained yesterday about being detained, but Bealefeld said that police gleaned valuable information during those searches.

One resident took down a description and plate number for a 1995 Buick seen driving away from the scene. Police broadcast that information over the radio all evening. About 10:30 p.m. Monday, Officer Debra Smith, a two-year veteran in the Central District, spotted the car. Brown was in it, and he was arrested on West Baltimore Street near Howard Street.

Bealefeld described Brown as a "dangerous" and "violent" person at yesterday's news conference. "He's got some prior arrests for second- degree assault," Bealefeld said. "Actions speak for themselves, we think."

Nobody answered the door yesterday at Brown's home in the 1600 block of E. Biddle St., and neighbors said they do not know him. His family could not be reached for comment.

Brown has had a number of interactions with police - his arrest record includes a handgun charge related to an incident on New Year's Day 2001. At that time, police investigating celebratory gunfire arrested Brown on charges of carrying a 9 mm handgun. The case was dropped when a police officer did not show up in court, documents show.

Since then, Brown has been arrested or cited three times for open-container violations, twice on marijuana possession charges, and once on a charge of second-degree assault, computerized court records show. He completed a court-ordered drug treatment program in July 2003, said Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office.

Last month Brown was charged with stealing a license plate for his 1995 Buick.

And two weeks ago - on July 20 - he was stopped by a police officer as he was walking out of his East Biddle Street house holding bags that police believed contained marijuana. When he was stopped, Brown said: "Officer, I am not going to lie to you, I just have three baggies," according to the charging documents.

With the permission of his older brother, police then searched Brown's bedroom and found 20 vials of suspected cocaine, according to the documents. He was charged, and a trial for that case is scheduled for next week.


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