Getting There: Hopkins incident shows haze in official statements

September 16, 2010

A shooting incident at Johns Hopkins Hospital today provided a vivid illustration of the difficulty officilals have in putting out a consistent message at a time when events are unfolding quickly.

Shortly after the shooting of a physician at the medical complex just before noon, the city police and Hopkins administration were putting out seemlingly contradictory staements about access to the complex.

The police statement, delivered on Twitter, said the incident had been contained and encouraged those with business at Hopkins to come to the medical center. At about the same time, the Hopkins administration was urging people to stay away because of traffic problems caused by the incident. "Please note that traffic in the area is very congested. If you don't need to go to East Baltimore, don't," the statement said. Hopkins urged people to stay away from the main hospital building and the School of Nursing but said the public health and medical schools were open.

After the shooting, the suspect barricaded himself on the eighth floor of the Nelson Building. Shortly before 2 p.m., police reported the suspect had been shot and killed.

Before the man's death, police shut down numerous roads in the vicinity, trying up traffic and forcing the Maryland Transit Administration to reroute buses on its No. 13 route.

Terry Owens, an MTA spokesman, said an underground gate leading from the Hopkins Metro Station to the hospital was closed. However, he said Metro service had not been interrupted and that passengers can still leave the station via an aboveground exit.

A Sun staff member at the scene said traffic remained open on Orleans and Madison streets but that east-west streets between them, including Monument, had been closed. She said Broadway apparently remained open but that Wolfe Street was closed between Madison and Orleans.

- Mike Dresser

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