Baltimore police officer wounded, man killed in shootout in block that’s seen recent spate of violence

Baltimore Sun

A Baltimore police officer was injured and a man was killed in a shootout Sunday evening in West Baltimore’s Poppleton neighborhood, interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said — in the same block where two people were shot last week.

Police did not release the name of the man, who they said shot the officer.  

The officer was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was doing well and was expected to be released Sunday evening, according to James Bentley, a spokesman for Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. The mayor visited the injured officer and spoke with him and his partner, Bentley said.

Tuggle said the officer is a veteran of the department during a news conference Sunday night, but he declined to release his identity or the specific nature of his injuries.

The shooting was reported just before 6:30 p.m. in the rear of the 800 block of Vine St. in the Poppleton neighborhood.

The injured officer and his partner were in the neighborhood for a “crime suppression initiative,” Tuggle said.

The neighborhood has experienced a recent spate of violence. Two people were shot in the same block where Sunday’s shooting occurred in the span of just over four hours one evening last week.

A man came to a hospital with a graze wound to the stomach just after 6 p.m. Tuesday, police said. A separate victim, a 28-year-old man, was shot in the foot there about 10:19 p.m. the same night, police said. Police did not release the names of either victim. The 28-year-old was released from the hospital in good condition, they said.

“There’s been a lot of violence in this area,” the interim commissioner said Sunday night. “This was a part of that initiative.”

The man who shot the officer was not a specific target of the operation, Tuggle said. Police did not specify whether the officer or his partner shot him.

Tuggle said the neighborhood would remain an active crime scene at least until morning, with police officers monitoring the people entering and exiting. The Police Department is commissioning a robo-call to inform neighborhood residents, he said.

“We’re going to do what we need to do to get through it,” Tuggle said.

He did not say how long the department would keep the neighborhood locked down — a tactic that drew criticism from civil liberties advocates after the department established a similar crime scene in the Harlem Park neighborhood for several days following the death of Detective Sean Suiter.

An independent panel appointed to Suiter’s death concluded in August that the officer likely took his own life.

The injured officer is in good spirits, according to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, the city police officers’ union. Union president Gene Ryan went to Shock Trauma with other officials, the union tweeted.

“We thank the community, and our membership, for their support and prayers,” the FOP said.

Residents said they heard dozens of shots.

Kelly Blanding, 50, who was watching football in a home facing the crime scene, said he heard so many shots that “I started to wonder, when is it gonna stop?”

“It was like a war out here,” Blanding said.

Near the crime scene, a group of women stood outside saying they also heard many shots.

“We had our surround sound on — I had to turn it down and ask my son, is that your game? He was like, ‘No. You heard that though, Mom?’ ” said one of the women, who declined to give her name for safety concerns.

Another woman who lives near the block said she’s considering moving.

“It’s a shame,” she said. “We can’t even let our kids outside. We need to move.”

Montique Gross, 57, said he heard around 20 gunshots before the sirens started.

He leaned over the railing of his porch on Vine Street and watched the police cars parked in the middle of his street, blue and red lights flashing.

There’s always something bad happening on the block where the shooting took place, Gross said.

Addicts panhandle for money along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, then walk to the neighborhood to buy drugs, and the violence spreads, he said. He worries about that his wife may be attacked and robbed when she walks from the front step of their home to her car.

“I be worrying,” he said. “This is a bad neighborhood.”

No further details were immediately available. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-866-7LOCKUP.

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