Baltimore police pursue a vehicle to Johns Hopkins Hospital after witnessing a shooting on Aiken Street. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun video)
An exchange of gunfire witnessed by officers in an East Baltimore neighborhood prompted a pursuit Tuesday that led to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and a tactical raid later on a nearby home.
Police packed the hospital’s North Wolfe Street entrance, where the pursuit ended, and a man injured in the shooting could be seen being treated on a gurney outside.
Two miles north at the shooting scene, police and federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives swept several blocks in each direction for evidence, as if there was an active shooter in the area. They turned corners with their heads on a swivel, eyes darting between rowhouse windows, handguns and rifles drawn.
A raid team with shields, helmets and long guns later entered a home on the block as police and ATF commanders, including ATF Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Daniel L. Board Jr., took tactical positions outside.
“Another day in Baltimore,” said Tywonda Petty, 32, as she watched from her porch, about a block from where the shooting occurred. “My son thought it was firecrackers. I had to yank him back and tell him it wasn’t. It’s too much.”
Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said the incident began around 2:15 p.m., when officers saw a shooting break out between two groups of people in the 2100 block of Aiken St.
“When that shooting took place, they had a choice to make,” Smith said of the officers. “They went after one of the vehicles involved.”
The pursuit ended at the hospital, where two other people who were with the injured man were taken into custody. A woman could be seen being handcuffed and put into a police vehicle.
Smith said hours after the shooting that police believed there could be other victims, as well.
“We don’t know, but we’re trying to sort things out,” Smith said.
In the East Baltimore-Midway neighborhood, near the North Avenue district courthouse, agents dropped at least a dozen orange evidence markers on Aiken Street, next to a silver sedan that had been shot up.
An employee at a nearby business, who asked not to be named to avoid upsetting his employer, said he heard eight or nine “heavy shots,” and by the time he stepped outside, both the police and the ATF were already on the scene.
They were there “in less than a minute, like they were around the corner” when the shooting began, he said. “The ATF boys was right on it. And the Baltimore boys, the police. They were both on it.”
A spokeswoman for the ATF said she couldn’t comment on the shooting Tuesday.
Police did not give details about what the officers were doing in the area at the time the shooting occurred, and would not say whether the officers who observed the shooting were undercover.
No officers fired their weapons, and no officers were injured, Smith said. No details were available on the outcome of the raid.
Last summer, ATF agents shot a man in West Baltimore after they said he and two others attempted to rob undercover agents during a “controlled purchase” of heroin. Police later charged all three men in that incident, including the man who was wounded.
The shooting Tuesday shut down various streets in the neighborhood for hours as the police and ATF investigated in the rain. A trail of blood marked a sidewalk in dots and larger splotches leading around a corner. Each time new evidence was located, police used more yellow tape to expand the crime scene.
Petty, whose son is 6 and who has two daughters, aged 5 and 1, said “It’s ridiculous to have to come outside your house to this,” as she gestured from her porch inside the tape to her street full of officers in tactical gear.
Petty said recent violence in the neighborhood and in the city at large has worn her down. She laments a lot of the deterioration in her neighborhood, she said, but her children’s safety is all she has time to worry about.
“It makes you want to go somewhere else,” she said. “The city is dead.”