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Prisoner killed at medical center


A prisoner taken to University of Maryland Medical Center yesterday for psychiatric evaluation grabbed the gun of the Baltimore police officer guarding him, fired it once and was shot fatally by a hospital employee after the officer screamed for help.

Omar Jamal Wise, 26, of the 1800 block of Druid Hill Ave. was shot several times in the chest by a member of the hospital's police force about 10:30 a.m. He was holding city Officer Gregory Eames at gunpoint in an emergency room hallway at the time, authorities said.

No one else was injured in the incident. Officer Eames, who has been on the city force for three years, and Edron Lonaberger Jr., a private first class with the UM force for 3 1/2 years, were put on administrative duty pending an investigation.

Mr. Wise was taken to the hospital for an emergency evaluation about 7:30 a.m. after he tried to hang himself in a cell at the city jail, police said. Mr. Wise was being held at the jail on charges -- including assault, resisting arrest, robbery, destruction of property and larceny -- in connection with the robbery Saturday of a merchant at Lafayette Market.

Court records show that Mr. Wise had been arrested several times previously on charges that included drug possession, dating back to 1988.

Yesterday morning, Mr. Wise, who had been waiting in a room in the emergency area of the hospital with Officer Eames, knocked the officer down and grabbed his gun, police said. The two men struggled in a hallway, and members of the hospital staff were alerted when a shot was fired by the prisoner and Officer Eames screamed for help.

"About four or five people said they saw the two of them appear outside of the seclusion room while [the officer] was lying on the ground and the prisoner was pointing the gun to his head," said Dr. Brian Browne, clinical director of the emergency department. "They said the prisoner demanded he give him the keys to remove his shackles and handcuffs.

"That's when a technician came bolting down the hall and yelled, 'Run, he's got a gun,' " Dr. Browne said. "Everybody ran for the phones to call 911 and pushed the panic buttons to alert our campus police."

Within seconds, campus police officers ran to the hallway and found Mr. Wise pointing a 9 mm Glock automatic to the officer's head, said Officer Sabrina V. Tapp-Harper, a city police spokeswoman.

"When [Officer Lonaberger] looked around the corner, the suspect caught a glimpse of him and turned toward the [hospital] officer with the gun," Officer Tapp-Harper said. "The University of Maryland officer then fired multiple shots at the suspect and killed him."

Dr. Browne said staff members tried to resuscitate Mr. Wise, who had been shot six or seven times.

Last night, Dr. Browne said hospital staff members remained shaken by the incident. Staff members who witnessed the struggle were sent home for the day after being counseled by stress managers, he said.

"It's a major concern for staff for their own safety and security," Dr. Browne said. "Prisoners [brought in for evaluations] are dangerous, and we are well aware of that. But when they're sick, they need regular care like everyone else. But we never forget they are dangerous people who are a threat to society."

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