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Gunman shot during undercover drug arrest in Baltimore

By Gus G. Sentementes, Sun Reporter
The Baltimore Sun

It was a tough week for Maj. John Dodson and his officers in Baltimore's Eastern District.

On Wednesday, two of his patrol officers tried to pull over a woman in a stolen car on East North Avenue. As the police approached her, an officer accidentally shot another officer, who was saved from serious injury by his bullet-resistant vest.

Then today, as undercover officers broke up a suspected drug deal and arrested a man, police said another man suddenly appeared and began shooting. Three of Dodson's patrol officers chased the man for several blocks -- exchanging gunfire along the way -- and shot and wounded him in an alley.

"It's been different," said Dodson, a 24-year veteran who has commanded the Eastern District since mid-2004. "I've gotten two phone calls this week, one of which a commander dreads: that an officer was shot."

Today's incident started around 10:30 a.m. when undercover officers from the organized crime division were watching suspected drug dealers in the 1800 block of Hope St. near Green Mount Cemetery. Officers saw a stash of drugs and arrested one man, recovering 25 gel caps of suspected heroin, police said.

They were waiting for a prisoner transport wagon when a man with a gun appeared and fired at the officers, police said.

The police gave chase down streets and alleys. The gunman was hit and collapsed in an alley between Aisquith and Holbrook streets, police said.

The man's identity, and that of three patrol officers who shot at the man, were not released today. The wounded man's injuries were described as not life- threatening.

Deputy Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said the officers who made the initial drug arrest were acting undercover, but had identified themselves as officers and that uniformed patrol officers were nearby. "We believe it was clear to the people in the area that these were indeed Baltimore City policemen," Bealefeld said.

Preliminary police reports indicate that the suspect fired between eight and 10 rounds at the officers. The crime scene was spread over a several-block area in the Oliver neighborhood. Crime lab technicians could be seen recovering shell casings and evidence at several different locations, while patrol officers knocked on doors and interviewed residents

"I heard gunshots and I saw a boy on the ground," said Nakia Brown, 15, who lives in the 1600 block of Holbrook St.

The officers involved in today's gun battle are from the same squad involved in an accidental shooting on Wednesday on nearby North Avenue.

One officer shot a colleague by mistake as they converged on a car believed to have been occupied by a person with a gun. The wounded officer, David Hare Jr., was hit in his vest. He suffered minor injuries and walked out of the hospital the same day. The officer who fired his weapon was identified as Claude Torres.

"That incident was unbelievable," Dodson said. Hare was more worried about the officer who shot him than himself.

Copyright 2007 Baltimore Sun

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