Robbery suspect, intended victim killed in shootings


In what city police called a random street robbery gone bad, a would-be robber and his victim were killed -- one by an off-duty police officer from outside Baltimore -- during a gunfight near Cherry Hill early yesterday.

A third man was injured in the gunfight in the 2900 block of Waterview Avenue.

The shootout, which one police officer likened to "the gunfight at OK Corral," began about 2 a.m. in the South Baltimore neighborhood. Three men, one wielding a .38-caliber revolver, attempted to hold up a group of men walking along Waterview Avenue.

A gold chain worn by one of the men may have been the target of the robbery, police said.

The robbery went awry when the intended victims produced weapons and fired at their assailants, fatally shooting one, said Lt. Robert Stanton of the city police department's homicide unit.

That robbery suspect, a 24-year-old city man whom police had not named late yesterday pending notification of relatives, had surrendered his revolver during a struggle with one of the intended victims.

The other two robbery suspects fled in a car. One of the men had been shot in the leg during the volley.

Police caught up with the pair a short time later at Francis Scott Key Medical Center, where they sought treatment for the injured man.

The injured suspect, a 20-year-old city resident, will be charged with robbery and related handgun violations when he is released from the hospital, probably today, police said.

Police would not name the other robbery suspect, a 20-year-old city resident.

Moments after the volley of shots, two off-duty police officers -- a man and a woman -- arrived, having heard the gunfire from about a block away.

As the male officer -- described by Lieutenant Stanton as being well-dressed after having attended a social function -- got out of his car and tried to identify himself, two of the intended robbery victims shot at him.

"They missed," Lieutenant Stanton said. "He opened up on them, and the group started to break up and scatter."

While fleeing, one of the men -- who had wrestled the revolver from one of the initial robbery suspects -- turned and fired four shots at the officer, missing each time.

The male police officer returned fire with his 9mm service revolver, fatally shooting the victim in the back, Lieutenant Stanton said.

The man shot dead by the police officer was identified as James Cooper, 18, of the Baltimore neighborhood of Westport. He was pronounced dead at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center at 3:10 a.m.

Baltimore police refused to name the off-duty officers. The male officer is a member of the Capitol Heights police department, and his companion is from the Washington force. The female officer did not fire her weapon during the melee.

City police spokesman Sam Ringgold said the names were being withheld until their departments were notified.

Police said an assortment of ballistics evidence at the scene showed that multiple weapons were used. But just one gun -- the revolver -- was recovered.

"It just looked like a street holdup," Lieutenant Stanton said. "[The suspects] probably never expected to run into an armed group."

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