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Off-duty police officer shoots robbery suspect in West Baltimore liquor store

An off-duty police officer fatally shot a man who was attempting to rob him inside a West Baltimore liquor store Friday evening, police said.

The officer, who was not identified, was in plainclothes and ordering something at the counter inside Green Tree Liquors in the 1400 block of W. Baltimore St. around 5:55 p.m. when the man walked in with a handgun drawn and "announced a robbery," said T.J. Smith, a police spokesman.

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"We don't have any indication that the suspect knew he was a police officer," Smith said. However, "the person he chose to rob was a police officer, and the officer defended himself" by pulling his service weapon and shooting the man, Smith said.

The man, who also was not identified, was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead, Smith said.

The officer, whom Smith described only as a "veteran" of the force, was not injured. Off-duty police officers in Baltimore are required to carry their service weapons.

After the shooting, the officer ran out to his car and called for help on his police radio, Smith said.

Col. Stanley Brandford, chief of the department's criminal investigations division, said it was not unusual for officers to confront crime in city neighborhoods while off duty.

"We live here, we shop here," Brandford said. "We are part of this community, we live in this community."

Smith said there were other people inside the store who witnessed the incident and provided statements to police, including store employees.

A portion of West Baltimore and North Calhoun was closed for hours.

Kelly Adams, a driving instructor, canceled a 6 p.m. class she was preparing to start across the street.

"It's very sad," she said. "I'm just happy my students are safe and are able to all get out."

Davon Jones, 24, and Lamont Randall, 23, said they were across the street when the shooting occurred, and challenged the narrative of events provided by police.

They said the shooting occurred outside the store, and Jones said the man "ran in the store for safety."

Randall said the officer pulled up outside the store and started "fussing" with the man, who cursed at the officer before the officer drew his weapon.

"It all happened so fast," Randall said.

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Smith said the department's Special Investigations Response Team is handling the investigation. The team investigates all police shootings. The officer has been placed on routine administrative leave pending the investigation.

The last fatal police shooting in Baltimore occurred on March 31. Police said Matthew V. Wood Jr., 43, and his son, Kimani Johnson, 18, were both killed by police gunfire after officers on patrol saw them emerge from a vehicle with a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun and believed the men were poised to shoot a group of people across the street.

Neither Wood nor Johnson fired their weapons, police said. The officers — identified as Norman Jones, who has been on the force for two years, and Sgt. Joseph Wiczulis, an eight-year veteran — were placed on routine administrative leave, along with a third officer who did not open fire, pending the department's investigation.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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