Officer who shot driver thought he was armed


A police officer who wounded a motorist in East Baltimore early Sunday thought the driver was armed and might have been involved in a shooting incident nearby, authorities said yesterday.

Police said two gunshots heard by Officer Rachelle Sweet, 39, were part of a fight a block away that ended with the stabbing death of a city man. But the shots had nothing to do with the driver the officer wounded, police said.

The fatal stabbing was part of a nine-hour spate of violence Saturday night and early Sunday that left four people dead -- three on the city's east side. It also left police commanders and politicians wondering if the relative calm on the city's streets in recent months had been ended.

"I just don't know," said Maj. Alvin Winkler, commander of the Eastern District. "It's nothing that I feel good about, that's for sure. I have no answer to it at this point. If I did, I surely would stop it."

The weekend slayings bring the total for the year to 158, 40 behind the total at this time last year, when the city was on its way to a homicide record.

The nine hours of violence began in the Eastern District about 3 a.m. when Officer Sweet heard gunfire while investigating an accident in the 2400 block of E. Lafayette Ave.

Officer Sabrina Tapp-Harper, a police spokeswoman, said the officer saw a man jump into a car and believed the man was carrying a gun. The officer ran toward the car, demanding that the driver stop, but the car kept coming toward him, police said.

The spokeswoman said Officer Sweet took out his 9 mm Glock handgun and fired two shots, one bullet hitting Timothy Jones, 30, of the 2500 block of E. Hoffman St., in the right wrist. She said she did not know how far the officer was from the car when he fired.

After Mr. Jones was wounded, police said, he turned his car around and drove off. Other officers stopped him a few block away.

Officer Tapp-Harper said police did not find a gun in the car, and Mr. Jones and his passenger were not charged. Mr. Jones was treated at Church Hospital and released.

Officer Sweet was placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting, a routine procedure.

Police said the shots Officer Sweet heard had come from around the corner in the 1700 block of N. Port St., where a 40-year-old man had gotten into a fight with two other men. During the dispute, police said, someone fired two shots, and the victim was stabbed repeatedly. The man, whose identity has been withheld pending notification of relatives, staggered a block to the 2400 block of E. Lanvale, where police found him dead.

An hour later, police who had been sent to a suspected domestic dispute found Donnell Reginald Haley, 25, on the second floor of a house in the 800 block of Abbott Court, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds in his chest and stomach, police spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr. said.

Police said Mr. Haley, who lived in the 4900 block of Crenshaw Ave., was visiting his girlfriend when her ex-boyfriend climbed through a window and opened fire with a semiautomatic pistol. Mr. Haley died at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Yesterday, police charged William Arthur Christian Jr., 29, of the 2000 block of Bob Hendrickson Court, Rosedale, with first-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a felony.

Four hours after the Haley shooting, friends searching for Hilliard Dontay Williams, 25, of the 2200 block of Ruskin Ave. found his bullet-riddled body covered with brush behind a parking lot in the 300 block of E. Lanvale St. His 1984 Cadillac was parked in the lot. Police said they have no motive and no suspects.

Meanwhile, police issued an arrest warrant yesterday in the on Saturday night shooting death of Antoinette Louise Wilson, 24, of the 2100 block of Callow Ave. They said they think the slaying may have occurred during a robbery attempt.

Ms. Wilson was found lying in the street in the 1600 block of Bakbury Court. Police said somebody punched her in the face, pulled out a semiautomatic pistol and shot her shortly before midnight. Marcel Terry Smith, 17, of no fixed address, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, police said.

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