A Baltimore police officer shot a man just steps from an elementary school yesterday afternoon after a chase that involved a car crash and ended when the man was caught hiding under an inflatable pool, police said.
Police said the incident began about 12:40 p.m. when a member of the SWAT team on routine patrol on Westwood Avenue passed a 1993 Chrysler New Yorker and observed a man duck inside the parked car. The officer turned around to conduct a field interview when the driver fled, running red lights and stop signs, and drove into Leakin Park, said Donny Moses, a police spokesman.
The SWAT officer lost track of the vehicle, but another officer responding to assist encountered it, this time on Morris Road in neighboring Gwynns Falls Park. There, Moses said, the vehicle ran over a curb and went airborne, striking an oncoming car. The driver of the Chrysler got out of the vehicle and jumped a wall that led to Hilton Parkway, then ran across the street and into a wooded area.
The man began removing his clothing as he ran into the woods, Moses said. Again, officers lost track of him. Police said that they would later learn the man was offering residents money to allow him to hide in their homes.
With a police helicopter overhead and patrol officers from the Southwest District in the area, an officer came upon the man hiding in a breezeway behind a home in the 3300 block of Presstman St., which is adjacent to Belmont Elementary School. The man was crouched down with his hands underneath a black jacket. Upon being seen, he threw the jacket at the officer and ran at him, Moses said.
The officer fired, striking the man in the leg, police said. But the incident was not over. The man continued to run and was found under an inflatable children's pool in a front yard in the 3200 block of Belmont Ave., on the other side of the school. He was taken into custody and taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening.
Police did not identify the man or the officer, who has been with the department for about a year. A check of the Chrysler showed that it had been stolen the previous day from the Western District. Police are investigating.
It is the 18th police-involved shooting this year and comes less than two weeks after an unarmed woman was shot in Cherry Hill.