A rookie Baltimore police officer was in good condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center after he was shot in the leg about 1 a.m. yesterday in Southwest Baltimore, police said.
The wounding of Officer Pedro Perez, 24, who was shot in the 100 block of Palormo Ave., underscores the importance of a gun task force established last spring, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said during a news conference yesterday at police headquarters.
The task force, which is investigating ways to target gun offenders and curb illegal gun trafficking, is part of a broad-based collaboration of local, state and federal authorities encouraged by Gov. Martin O'Malley as part of his administration's focus on fighting gun crime.
In July, O'Malley joined Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson to start a task force that more closely tracks guns used in crimes, shares information on gun sales and improves cross-border coordination.
In January, homicides, nonfatal shootings and aggravated assaults declined significantly in Baltimore, and common assaults were down slightly. Authorities say it is not clear whether the anti-gun measures are a factor or whether they will deter gun violence in the city over the long term.
Perez, who graduated from the police academy in July, was on patrol with his partner when they stopped to talk to two men loitering in an area where criminal activity is rampant.
A gunman jumped from behind bushes and fired at least three shots at the officers, Bealefeld said. One shot hit Perez above his right knee.
Perez's family was with him at the hospital yesterday morning, Bealefeld said, adding, "This man is in excellent spirits. ... He's eager to get back."
Bealefeld said police are following a number of "good leads."
No description of the gunman was released. The weapon was not recovered.
Police do not think there is a link between the unidentified gunman and the two men the officers were talking to at the time of the shooting. The two have been held for questioning but are considered "more witnesses than suspects," Bealefeld said.
"This definitely reinforces the dangerous nature of the work these police officers do," he said, "and [shows] that more work needs to be done."