In what city police said was a random street robbery that failed, 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 Ave.
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 was the target in 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 homicide unit.
That robbery suspect, Morris L. Turner, 24, of the 3000 block of W. Lanvale St. in West Baltimore, 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 Harbor Hospital Center, where they sought treatment for the injured man.
The injured suspect, Sean Crim, 20, of the 3000 Rayner Ave. in West Baltimore, was in good condition today at Harbor Hospital.
Mr. Crim is to be charged with robbery and related handgun violations when he is released from the hospital, probably today, police said.
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, Andre Mack Irving Sr., a Capitol Heights 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 robbery suspects, turned and fired four shots at Officer Irving, missing each time.
Officer Irving returned fire with his 9mm service revolver, fatally shooting the victim in the back, Lieutenant Stanton said. Police said Officer Irving fired 10 shots from his revolver.
The man shot dead by the police officer was identified as James Cooper, 18, of the 2600 block of Maisel St. in Westport, who police say was one of the intended robbery victims and the man who had the gold chain.
Mr. Cooper was pronounced dead at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center at 3:10 a.m.
The other off-duty officer, Juanita Thomas, of the District Columbia force, did not fire her weapon during the melee.
Police said an assortment of ballistics evidence at the scene showed that several 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."