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Crime

One person dead, 2 injured, including Baltimore County police officer, in Saturday night shooting in Towson

One person is dead and two injured, including a police officer, after Baltimore County law enforcement responded to a report of “unknown trouble” at a Towson apartment Saturday night and got into a shootout with a man who answered the door brandishing a handgun, officials said.

The state attorney general’s Independent Investigations Division is investigating the shooting.

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Baltimore County Police said officers were sent to investigate “unknown trouble” at the Virginia Towers apartment building in the 500 block of Virginia Avenue at 8:40 p.m. On an upper floor, according to Chief Melissa Hyatt, they found an “armed subject” with a handgun.

Officials with the attorney general’s office said Sunday that officers identified the apartment where the “unknown trouble” was occurring and knocked on the door. A man answered the door “armed with a handgun and pointed it at officers,” officials said.

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That man and three officers exchanged gunfire, and the man was later pronounced dead on the scene, according to the attorney general’s office.

An officer was also injured in gunfire. He was hospitalized with an injury to his finger, Hyatt said. He was released from the hospital Sunday night.

Officials said a woman was located inside the apartment suffering from gunshot wounds and was hospitalized in critical condition.

The Independent Investigations Division on Tuesday identified the man shot and killed as Joseph Robert Henry Thompson, 66, of Towson.

The three officers who fired weapons in the shooting were identified by the division as officers S. Johnson, who has 16 years of experience with the agency; C. Klapka, four years; and R. Fitzgerald, 3.5 years. All are assigned to Baltimore County Police’s Operations Bureau.

A county salary database includes officers named Cody Klapka, Scott Johnson and Robert Fitzgerald, whose tenures with the department correspond with the information provided by the Independent Investigations Division.

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The release didn’t specify which of the officers was shot, and the woman who was found wounded in the apartment was not identified.

”Our office is going to work to process the entire crime scene. Through our investigation, we will determine whether or not that second individual was injured by the decedent on scene or if that came from the police department,” Thomas Lester, the spokesman, said.

Officials said there was body camera footage of the shooting. Lester said it would be released after the Independent Investigations Division completed interviews with any witnesses.

Virginia Towers is subsidized for many older residents and people with disabilities. Standing outside the 15-floor high-rise Sunday morning, residents said that many were shaken up by the shooting, which echoed loudly throughout the building. Multiple shots were fired on the 11th floor, they said, leaving bullet holes in a metal door of one apartment.

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Police officers swarmed the building after the shooting, residents said. Officers searched the stairwell and roped off the 11th floor as a police helicopter hovered around the building. People who left their apartments were unable to get back into the building for at least a half-hour.

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Hyatt praised the officers’ response to what they believed was gunfire, calling it in line with their training. She also called the shooting, which she viewed on body camera footage, “incredibly frightening.” She added, “I could very easily be coming out here to talk about a very different outcome for our police officers.”

David Marks, a Baltimore County councilman who represents Towson, said the county will do “whatever we can to bolster public safety” after “unsettling” incidents such as the shooting near the heart of Towson Square, an outdoor mall. The apartment building is across the street from a Cinemark movie theater.

“Our prayers are with the police officer who seems to be making a recovery,” Marks said.

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Baltimore County police have shot at least two other people this year. Officers shot and seriously injured 19-year-old Shane Radomski in Dundalk in April. A Baltimore County grand jury found that the four officers who fired their weapons were justified. The attorney general’s office said Radomski was shot after driving a car that crashed into an unmarked police car while officers attempted to arrest two homicide suspects. Radomski was not a suspect.

A police officer fatally shot 39-year-old Ralph Picarello III in Essex in May. The attorney general’s office said police were responding to a domestic violence complaint when a Picarello picked up two knives and “moved quickly toward officers.” One officer deployed a Taser, and two fired weapons, striking Picarello.


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