Officer in serious condition


Baltimore police Officer John Dolly, a four-year veteran assigned to the Eastern District, was listed in serious condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center a day after being shot in the hip while trying to stop a New Year's Eve reveler from firing a handgun.

Early Thursday morning, Dolly came upon the reveler in the 900 block of Montford Ave. while responding to another call in the Milton-Montford neighborhood. Dolly and other officers tried to get the man to stop firing his handgun, but he refused, police said. Instead, the man began running and firing at the police officers.

During the chase and a brief gunbattle, Dolly was shot in the right hip, just below his soft body armor. The suspect was shot in the shin. Police are not releasing his name because he has not been charged, said spokesman Officer Troy Harris.

New Year's Eve gunfire has long been a problem in Baltimore, and authorities frequently express concern about the risks.

"It's obvious that whatever goes up comes down," said Carl Gutberlet, chief of the patrol division. "Historically, we always have someone that is an unintended victim of this celebratory gunfire. In January 2003, the first victim of a shooting in Baltimore was a young woman who was down at the Inner Harbor enjoying the fireworks display when an errant round hit her in the forehead."

Gutberlet said the problem has been diminishing, particularly over the past three years. Starting in 2001, the department created teams of police officers that chased muzzle flashes and the sounds of gunfire on New Year's Eve.

"I know it's been a problem here for the last 24 years I've been here, but it has been getting better," Gutberlet said. "When I first came on 24 years ago, supervisors told officers to keep their backs up against walls or to park underneath bridges or underpasses for the first 10 or 15 minutes after midnight, until all of the celebratory gunfire was done."

On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, police made 40 gun-related arrests and recovered 79 handguns, said police spokesman Matt Jablow. Police recovered 3,198 guns last year, Jablow said.

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