Man is killed, 2 deputies are wounded in shooting

Gunfire erupts as authorities enter home to serve warrant

September 16, 2008|By Justin Fenton and Gus G. Sentementes | Justin Fenton and Gus G. Sentementes and,justin.fenton@baltsun.com and gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

Two Baltimore sheriff's deputies were wounded and a man identified as a suspect in a Baltimore County homicide was killed when gunfire broke out yesterday morning at a West Baltimore rowhouse where authorities were serving a warrant on another man, city police said.

Shortly before 6 a.m., members of the Regional Warrant Apprehension Task Force were serving a warrant for probation violation on a man in the 1700 block of N. Fulton Ave., police said. The officers entered the rowhouse, in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, and one of several men inside the home opened fire, police said.

A bullet passed through the neck of one deputy, and the other deputy suffered a graze wound to the head, police said. Officers shot back, killing Emory Lamont Lewis, 25, whom county detectives have been seeking since he was charged last year with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend.

"A significant number of officers went through the door at once, hoping to catch the suspect off guard, and they do that to avoid situations like this," said Sterling Clifford, a city police spokesman. "They enter guns at the ready, hoping it dissuades people from choosing to run or shoot back. Unfortunately, in this case, it didn't work out."

The deputies were identified as James Lane and Kenyatta Washington. They were taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where they were treated and released. Both have more than five years of experience with the city Sheriff's Office, according to a spokeswoman, Sgt. Carla Lightsey.

City police were seen taking three men in handcuffs from the three-story brick rowhouse. Lightsey said the target of the warrant was Donte L. Bradford, 28, who was wanted for a probation violation stemming from a drug distribution conviction.

Court records show Bradford pleaded guilty to one charge of drug possession with intent to distribute in October 2007 and received a suspended seven-year sentence and three years of supervised probation.

He has twice been charged with violating his probation, with the first charge dismissed in March. A month later he was charged with another violation for failing to report to his probation agent, and the deputies were apparently serving that warrant yesterday morning.

It was not clear yesterday whether officers were aware that Lewis was also being sought on a warrant. Baltimore County police allege that Lewis gunned down his girlfriend, Felicia Ann Spratley, 22, outside her apartment on Sept. 8, 2007.

Bill Toohey, a Baltimore County police spokesman, said detectives had not been able to locate Lewis and believed that he had gone to North Carolina. He said they learned recently that Lewis, who was also charged with murder in 2005 and had pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, might have returned to the area.

Clifford said that while the men in the rowhouse identified Lewis, his appearance had changed "substantially" and that police were awaiting fingerprint tests to confirm his identity.

Yellow police tape blocked the scene yesterday morning, and residents from both sides of the street watched the activity from their steps. There were dozens of people outside about 10 a.m. as a body was removed from the home by officials from the medical examiner's office.

Lightsey said that the injured deputies were part of a specialized unit that serves warrants. They are equipped with bulletproof vests but do not wear head protection, she said.

"In doing this type of work, anything can happen, and they're always prepared that something could go wrong," Lightsey said.

In December 2006, a state trooper was shot and wounded while serving a warrant in the Edmondson Heights neighborhood. The trooper, Eric D. Workman, was wearing a bulletproof vest but was struck under his arm, and the bullet pierced one of his lungs.

Workman has since returned to work, and he was observed at the scene of yesterday's shooting. State police said he was not helping to serve the warrant but was in the vicinity when the shots rang out and responded to assist.

While police were responding to the shooting, a traffic accident involving a civilian vehicle and a police cruiser occurred at Lanvale and Monroe streets, several blocks south of the shooting scene. Clifford said no one was injured in the crash.

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