Officer injured in E. Baltimore shooting

Suspect in critical condition

March 19, 2011|By Jessica Anderson and Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

A city police detective who was shot in East Baltimore on Friday night when he confronted a bicycle-riding gunman is expected to survive, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said.

The suspect was shot during an exchange of gunfire and was reported to be in critical condition early Saturday.

The suspect, who has not been identified, was riding in the 2300 block of Harford Road about 7:30 p.m. when an unmarked police car pulled up behind him and the three detectives inside attempted to stop him, Bealefeld said. The suspect opened fire on the first officer who got out of the car and the two other officers returned fire, Bealefeld told reporters outside Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where the officer was being treated Friday night.

The detectives were patrolling the area, Bealefeld indicated.

"The mayor and I have been challenging all of our police officers to analyze, get good intelligence information and deploy to the right spots," said Bealefeld, who was joined by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein.

"We picked this stretch along Harford Road because of the level of violence in that neighborhood and the frequency of the people armed in that neighborhood," Bealefeld said.

The detectives, who are a part of the Eastern District's Violent Crimes Impact Section, were patrolling when they noticed the bicyclist and became suspicious, Bealefeld said.

The detectives "watched his movements for a few minutes and believed he might be armed," he said. They asked the bicyclist to stop, and when one officer got out, the suspect opened fire using a .32-caliber silver revolver. Bealefeld said the officers were wearing marked police body armor.

Bealefeld said the detective was struck in the left side of his neck and that the bullet then lodged in the officer's right lung.

The other two detectives then exchanged gunfire with the suspect along Harford Road, Bealefeld said.

After the officer was shot, other officers could be heard on the police radio calling for a medic, then making the decision to transport the injured officer to the hospital themselves after determining that an ambulance was taking too long to arrive.

Bealefeld confirmed that the detective was taken to the hospital by a patrol car, but he said the medics' response time was adequate. "We have a great partnership with the medics in this city," he said, adding there was "zero concern about the quality of service."

Police did not release the name of the officer or that of the suspect, who was in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Police said they had recovered the suspect's weapon.

The other two detectives were interviewed Friday night. The wounded detective was visited by his family.

"The detective is in unbelievably good spirits," Rawlings-Blake said. She said she spoke to his parents, who were at the hospital Friday night. The 30-year-old detective is a six-year veteran of the city Police Department. "They have certainly have raised a tough son," she said of the officer's parents.

For several hours after the shooting, Harford Road between Darley and Cliftview avenues was taped off as police officers combed the crime scene. A bicycle lay on its side near the white, unmarked police car. Numerous residents stood and watched in the warm weather. A few people tried to duck under the yellow police tape that stopped traffic all the way down to North Avenue and up to East 25th Street.

Bealefeld praised the detectives' work.

"We're not riding around willy-nilly," Bealefeld said. The detectives "are doing what [the mayor] and I asked them to do. … They're risking their lives to make this city safer."

jkanderson@baltsun.com

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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