Officers stuck in traffic witness shooting; man chased, wounded


Four law enforcement officers stuck in rush-hour traffic witnessed the shooting of a man yesterday in West Baltimore, saw the shooter get into a car, followed him as he sped into a public housing complex, then shot him, fearing that he might fire at them, police said.

The conclusion of the chase and one of the shots fired by a Housing Authority of Baltimore City officer was caught on tape by a television crew.

The two wounded men are expected to survive, police said.

The incident began about 5 p.m. on the east side of the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Druid Hill Avenue. A housing authority officer in one car and three city deputy sheriffs in another were stopped in traffic, said Sgt. Sam Cogen of the Sheriff's Department. An off-duty city officer was standing nearby, Cogen said.

A gunman jumped from a white Cadillac and fired several shots, hitting Rodney McCants, 20, three times, said Agent Donny Moses, a city police spokesman. Stray bullets hit the passenger side of the off-duty officer's blue pickup truck,

The gunman jumped back into the Cadillac and sped south on the boulevard, Moses said. The officers followed.

After about a half-mile, the Cadillac turned west on Saratoga Street. He tried to turn south onto Cherry Blossom Way, but the car spun and crashed on the curb, Moses said.

The driver jumped a fence and ran into the back yards between two rows of homes at the Townes at the Terraces, a public housing complex. The man turned toward the officers, and the housing officer shot him, Moses said. The man was hit once in the lower abdomen.

The officers didn't know at the time whether the man still had the gun, Moses said, and thought he might fire at them.

Jennifer Roth, a reporter working for WMAR Channel 2, was filming a news segment a half-block away. Hours earlier, the city had announced that it was disbanding the housing police force - the agency that employs the officer who fired the shots - and she had gone to the West Baltimore complex to film her story for the 6 p.m. news.

"I was looking for a quiet place to record," Roth said. "I was interrupted by the sound of a car crash, officers yelling and then gunshots."

Her cameraman ran toward the action and captured the last of what Roth said were three gunshots. Detectives were reviewing the tape at the scene.

Police did not release the names of the officers. The suspect, 20, whose name also was not released, was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center. His condition was not known.

McCants, who was shot in the right arm, right leg and buttocks, was listed in good condition at Shock Trauma, Moses said.

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