Man fatally shot by SWAT officer after threatening children with knife, Baltimore police say

A SWAT team member fatally shot a 39-year-old man who allegedly was threatening two young children with a large butcher knife during a barricade situation in a West Baltimore rowhome on Friday morning, according to Baltimore Police.

The man, who was not identified Friday, was a homeless relative of the family that lived in the home, and had been allowed to sleep there the night before, said T.J. Smith, a police spokesman.

Family members called police to the home in the 1000 block of N. Fulton Avenue, in the city's Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, about 6:45 a.m. after the man started "acting erratically," Smith said.

The family told police they believed the man was on drugs, and he appeared "highly agitated" to responding patrol officers as he brandished a knife toward a 4-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy, Smith said. The patrol officers declared a barricade situation and called in the SWAT team for backup, Smith said.

Negotiations with the man lasted about an hour before a SWAT officer, fearing the children would be injured, shot the man "as a last resort," Smith said.

"Out of fear for the absolute safety of those children who had a knife in close proximity to them, on their bodies, being pointed at their bodies, officers were forced to fire a round," Smith said. "Deadly force had to be used. This was not a scenario where less lethal [force] was an option, because if it didn't go right, we could be standing here talking about an injured or deceased 4- or 1-year-old."

Neither the children nor other family members were injured. No police officers were injured.

The family could not be reached for comment Friday.

Smith said the officers involved, including the SWAT member who fired, were wearing body cameras, but he did not know when the footage would be made available.

The officer who shot the man has been placed on routine administrative duty pending the conclusion of the investigation into the shooting by the department's Special Investigations Response Team, which investigates all police shootings. The officer, a 14-year veteran of the police force, was not identified.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and other top police commanders were on the scene of the shooting Friday morning. Davis spoke with family members of the children and the man who was killed, who were distraught but "grateful" the children were unharmed, Smith said.

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