Officer shoots man during break-in


A Baltimore police officer who stopped by his mother's Ednor Gardens rowhouse yesterday shot a man trying to break in through a basement door. The suspect turned out to be someone the officer has known since childhood, investigators said.

The shooting in the Memorial Stadium neighborhood comes amid a series of break-ins that have left some longtime residents wary. Police said they will investigate whether the wounded suspect can be linked to other cases.

Anthony Rayfield Gause, 27, who lives in the 4100 block of St. George's Ave., about four blocks from where he was shot, was in good condition yesterday at the Johns Hopkins Hospital recovering from a bullet wound in the leg. Police said charges were pending.

The officer who shot him, four-year veteran Curtis Dixon, 27, was placed on routine administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation.

"This used to be a very quiet neighborhood," said Bill Simpson, 50, who has lived his entire life in Ednor Gardens and is now considering joining a neighborhood patrol group.

"We never had the citizens on patrol," Mr. Simpson said, as he watched detectives scour the taped-off area behind a neatly trimmed rowhouse in the 3700 block of Kimble Road. "That just happened in the past few years. Crime just started getting worse."

Walter Hedges, 85, who lives up the street from where the shooting occurred, said someone broke into his house through a basement door Saturday night and stole a 27-inch television set. "After 47 years and never having anything happen on this corner, quite a change."

More than a year ago, the quiet Ednor Gardens community was && shattered by a series of armed holdups that began four days after Christmas 1993 and ended in January 1994 with the killing of a city correctional officer in front of his home on Elkader Road, two blocks from yesterday's incident.

The slaying of Lt. Jerry Watkins, 46, who police say died in a botched robbery attempt, remains unsolved, although police made several arrests that ended the string of holdups.

Maj. Bert Shirey, Northeastern District commander, said the break-ins have been occurring sporadically around the neighborhood. He said burglars are getting inside by breaking windows or prying doors open.

That is what happened yesterday. Police said Officer Dixon, who is assigned to the Central District and was on his way to court, was dropping his cousin off at the house about 8:30 a.m. when he saw a man trying to pry open a basement door with a screwdriver.

Sam Ringgold, a city police spokesman, said the officer "ordered the individual to drop the weapon." Instead, the man tried to conceal it behind his right pants leg, the spokesman said. A violent scuffle ensued, and the officer pulled out his 9 mm Glock semiautomatic handgun and fired once.

"The officer is very shook up about it," Major Shirey said. The Kimble Road incident was the second police-involved shooting in Northeast Baltimore in two days. About 8 p.m. Tuesday, two officers wounded a suspect in another shooting near City College.

Mr. Ringgold said the suspect shot at plainclothes officers Derrick Layton, 28, and Keith Harrison, 25, as they approached him near the school. They returned fire, hitting him in the right ankle and left thigh.

Police said that the wounded suspect -- who was in fair condition at Hopkins yesterday -- has refused to identify himself and that investigators are trying to check his identity through his fingerprints.

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