Police dodge driver's gunfire


What started as a routine traffic stop for two Baltimore police officers turned into life-threatening shooting after the officers were handed a falsified driver's license under the name of a state prison inmate, police said today.

City police are continuing to search for the male driver who fired two errant shots at Officers Ronald Berger and Donna Stauffer just before midnight after they had stopped him in the 2000 block of N. Pulaski St. in West Baltimore for driving a car with no front license plate.

The driver gave them a license for Ronald David Betters, 21, of the 1700 block of Druid Hill Ave., who they later learned was convicted of murder last year and who turned out to be safely behind bars in the Maryland Correctional Training Center at Hagerstown.

The officers had started back toward their patrol car to verify the license when the driver fired the shots from a handgun, striking the driver's door and rear fender of the patrol car but missing the officers.

The driver and another man fled, leaving the car behind.

Based on the driver's license, the officers obtained a warrant for Betters, who had been convicted of murdering Morsell Anthony Baker, 30, of the 1700 block of McCulloh St., in February, 1989.

Betters received a 15-year suspended sentence. But, in May this year, he was charged with a probation violation and sentenced to five years in prison. Police later learned that the apparently phony driver's license was obtained in June, after Betters went to prison.

Police said the car was registered to a city woman, but she had not lived at the address on file for more than a year.

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