Baltimore police said yesterday that they believed an off-duty state trooper interrupted a possible murder attempt Monday night when he killed a 19-year-old man during a gunbattle at a West Baltimore service station.
Killed was Michael Steven Maxfield, 19, of the 3700 block of Milford Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. With three gunshot wounds to the back, he was pronounced dead at the scene of the 9:55 p.m. shooting.
Cpl. Eric R. Claxton, 29, of the Waterloo barracks of the state police, was slightly wounded in the gunbattle, which occurred after Corporal Claxton stopped in a service station in the 4300 block of Wabash Avenue to make a telephone call.
As the trooper was making his call, a minivan pulled alongside several telephones, according to police. A man wearing a ski mask and carrying a .38-caliber handgun then jumped from the van's side door and yelled something to a man identified by police as Todd Jefferson, 24, who was in a phone booth adjacent to the trooper.
Mr. Jefferson told police that he was talking to his girlfriend when the masked gunman fired a shot at him. Mr. Jefferson fled and the gunman began to give chase, only to stop and fire a shot at Corporal Claxton, who was in civilian clothes. Corporal Claxton fell to the pavement to protect himself.
The trooper quickly identified himself as a trooper and drew his own 9mm semiautomatic pistol. The trooper and the gunman exchanged several shots, police said.
Fatally wounded, the gunman ran across the service station lot and about 100 feet into Wabash Avenue before collapsing in the street, police said. A .38-caliber weapon was recovered from the scene, along with the gunman's ski mask and 14 vials of suspected cocaine. The van from which the gunman jumped sped off during the incident.
Baltimore police officers from the Northwest District arrived at the scene and called an ambulance for Corporal Claxton, who suffered a graze wound to his upper left thigh. He was taken to Sinai Hospital, treated and released.
Police said Mr. Jefferson returned to the service station uninjured and was taken to the police headquarters for questioning. Mr. Jefferson, who resides in the 3500 block of Cedardale Road, provided some information, but detectives hope to conduct further interviews, according to Agent Arlene K. Jenkins, a police spokeswoman.
Timothy Doory, who heads the violent crimes unit of the state's attorney's office, said the shooting appears to be an act of self-defense and has therefore been ruled justified at this time.