By Pamela Wood
The Baltimore Sun
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Annapolis Police shot and killed a man who they said was stabbing a woman in front of her home shortly after midnight on Tuesday.
William Brown, 31, was pronounced dead at Anne Arundel Medical Center, as was the woman police said he was attacking, Ronnesha Simms, 29.
Neighbors in the 1900 block of Copeland Street in the Bywater Mutual Homes community heard Simms screaming as Brown attacked her at about 12:21 a.m., Chief Michael Pristoop said. One neighbor intervened and was able to kick the small folding knife away from Brown.
"It was very heroic on the part of the neighbor to try and intervene," Pristoop said.
Brown went back into Simms' house and came out with a kitchen knife, just as police arrived, Pristoop said.
Pristoop said the first officer was on the scene within a minute of 911 being called. The officer saw Simms on the ground and Brown wielding a knife.
"The officer tried very hard to stop this assault," Pristoop said.
The officer, a 14-year veteran who has worked as a patrol officer and on the SWAT team, fired several shots. Brown was hit at least five times, Pristoop said.
Brown managed to stab Simms one more time after being shot, Pristoop said.
Brown and Simms were taken by ambulance to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.
Simms had two children in her home, ages 2 and 9. Both are with relatives.
Brown is well known to Annapolis Police officers, who have arrested him at least 10 times, including for an assault on Simms in July 2012, Pristoop said. Brown has used multiple Annapolis addresses over the years, including the Copeland Street address.
Brown was on probation for a robbery and attempted kidnapping from August 2012, Pristoop said. He was enrolled in a Violence Prevention Initiative, a form of probation with enhanced supervision.
The shooting will be investigated, but Pristoop said the officer's actions appear to be justified. The chief said there would not have been enough time for the officer to use a Taser. All patrol officers in Annapolis carry Tasers, and the department is working on outfitting all officers with Tasers, Pristoop said.
The officer who shot Brown has not yet been publicly identified. He was involved in one prior fatal shooting, about seven or eight years ago, when multiple SWAT team members fired at a dangerous suspect, Pristoop said.
Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen said he planned to reach out to the victim's family. He noted that Brown and Simms are common names in Annapolis.
While Annapolis is the state's capital, "we're still a very small town," Cohen said.
Cohen praised the police for their actions.
"This could potentially have been an even more tragic situation than it was," Cohen said.
Cohen noted that crime has been declining in Annapolis, and that Bywater — a private community that is largely subsidized housing — has seen fewer problems. Police have been working hard in Bywater and other areas to reduce crime, he said.
"It's not by happenstance that an officer was just one minute away," he said.
The last court on Copeland Street remained cordoned off by police tape Tuesday morning. A police officer lifted the tape to allow residents to leave for work and for children to walk to meet the school bus.
Paula Holmes and her 18-year-old granddaughter Kiara Holmes peered out from the doorway of their home down the street Tuesday morning and wondered how things had turned so violent overnight.
Kiara said the neighborhood has been safer than in recent years after security was improved.
"For the most part, it's quiet," she said.
Paula, who has lived in Bywater for 11 years, said troublemakers no longer linger in the streets after dark like they used to. "At nighttime, there's nobody out here," she said.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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