Police shoot man wielding knives
He threatened passers-by on Greenmount Avenue, Commissioner Davis says
A man wielding knives near a Waverly bus stop Friday morning was shot by Baltimore police officers and critically wounded, police said.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said officers were called about 9:30 a.m. to the 3300 block of Greenmount Ave., where an armed man with a knife in each hand threatened people waiting on the sidewalk.
The man, who was not identified, was in critical condition at an area hospital, police said.
Davis commended the officers for their actions.
“I’m so proud of these officers, the way they responded to the scene, the way that they attempted to de-escalate. Unfortunately that didn’t work,” he said.
Three uniformed officers responding to a 911 call issued several verbal commands for the man to drop the knives, but he did not, Davis said. The officers then used a Taser on him, to no effect.
Two officers then fired their weapons, striking the man several times, Davis said.
At least one officer was wearing a body camera, and its footage will be reviewed, he said.
“We certainly intend to share that with the community as well,” Davis said.
One witness said the officers had no choice, while another questioned their actions.
Paul Moser, 30, who works at a gas station across the street, said he heard police yelling for the man to drop the knives. He said he felt they had to shoot “if you going to act crazy with two knives.”
But Lanay Harrison, 19, who was sweeping leaves on the sidewalk when she witnessed the shooting, said the man did not appear threatening. “I watched everything — he could have [ just] been drunk,” she said. She said she did not hear the officers speak and questioned why they had to shoot the man.
The shooting is the second this week by city police. On Tuesday night, Officer Jeffrey Melo shot Richard Gibbs Jr. in the 1000 block of N. Monroe St. in West Baltimore. Police said the officer stopped Gibbs because he was driving a car with an “obliterated” license plate. He stepped out of the BMW holding a loaded gun and was shot once, police said.
Gibbs, 29, was initially listed in critical condition but police said Thursday his condition had improved.
Asked Friday about the earlier shooting, Davis said, “This was a traffic stop. This was a cop doing his job on a traffic stop and the motorist gets out of the car with a gun in his hand. That’s a threat not only to that police officer, but to that entire community.”
He said investigators are still working to collect information on Friday’s shooting, including what, if anything, the man said to the officers. But he said the man was acting in an “unstable, threatening, menacing” manor.
After the shooting, Davis said, the officers rendered first aid.
“By all accounts, the officers went step by step, by step, not only to try to protect this community, but to protect this suspect, protect him from himself.”
Sonja Merchant-Jones, a board member with the Better Waverly Community Organization, said the shooting was “unfortunate” but expressed gratitude for the officers’ actions and that no one else was injured.
“I just commend the police officers for keeping it secure and making sure no one else was hurt,” she said. “Sometimes those things are necessary. It just is for public safety.”
She said the neighborhood and the city must continue moving forward to stop violence.
“When you go in and talk to people with kindness and respect, they respond better. This needs to be taken all over the city. We don’t have to lose hope. It just needs to shake us into being more proactive.”
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she and community members have been working to increase patrols along GreenmountAvenue and the surrounding neighborhoods. They are concerned about recent attacks on students leaving City College high school, she said.
Friday’s shooting “will bring to a head the general concerns already out there,” Clarke said. “Everyone is mobilizing in these communities. People are coming together in a way to get to the root of the problem and to protect one another.”
Police gather evidence in the shooting of a man wielding two knives at the bus stop near the old Boulevard Theatre on Greenmount Avenue near 33rd Street.