ATF agents exchanged gunfire with suspects in South Baltimore

An initiative by at least a dozen federal law enforcement agents in South Baltimore on Monday evening that led to several injuries and arrests also included an exchange of gunfire, which was not initially disclosed.

Special Agent Clare A. Weber, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the information about gunshots on Patapsco Avenue was initially withheld because of an internal investigation.

Weber would not say why the ATF was in the 1000 block of W. Patapsco Ave., near Magnolia Avenue, late Monday afternoon and early evening. She said no one was injured from the gunfire.

The area is mostly industrial, with gated businesses. There are a gas station, an auto body garage and a mini-storage company. The shootout occurred on a parking lot of what appeared to be the storage company, according to video from business surveillance cameras broadcast on WJZ-TV.

That video showed a white SUV speeding across the lot, the passenger side door open, and crashing into another car at the entrance on Patapsco Avenue. Video footage showed what appeared to be police snipers positioned on rooftops, indicating a planned police operation.

Weber confirmed the gunfire on Tuesday after inquires from The Baltimore Sun. Information about shots being fired came from witnesses at the scene, as well as from city police sources who were alerted to the gunfire.

Baltimore police are not investigating the incident and took no report. City officials turned the crime scene over to the ATF, whose spokeswoman would not address the issue of gunfire Monday night.

The Baltimore Fire Department's labor union, Local 734, posted a message on Twitter saying several people had been injured in a car accident involving a struck pedestrian on Patapsco Avenue. Weber, on Monday night, confirmed that some type of crash had occurred but said it was unclear how the people were injured.

On Tuesday, Weber said that "gunshots were exchanged" but that the people injured were not struck by bullets. She released no other information about the people who were hurt or thearrests that were made.

The Maryland U.S. attorney's office said no public information on arrests was available. Federal authorities have wide latitude in having cases sealed, and the names of those arrested could be held under court seal until a broader investigation is concluded.

It is also unclear if the shooting occurred during an arrest or some other type of enforcement operation, such as the serving of a search warrant. Authorities did say the agents were part of a violent crime task force.

In September, ATF agents arrested 55 people in South Baltimore's Brooklyn neighborhood as part of an investigation into a suspected drug network with ties to Anne Arundel County and Reservoir Hill. Weber said Monday's initiative was not linked to the arrests two months ago.

Jack Baker, who lives in South Baltimore and heads the Southern District Police Community Relations Council, described the area as a "no-man's land" between two communities. He said a planned community walk with police had to be canceled because officers were busy at the shooting scene.

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