Police shoot man wield­ing knives

He threat­ened passers-by on Green­mount Av­enue, Com­mis­sioner Davis says

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Jessica An­der­son Bal­ti­more Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this ar­ti­cle. jkan­der­son@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jan­ders5

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.”

ALGERINA PERNA/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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.

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