Morrell Park police shooting victim refused to drop revolver, records say

A man fatally shot by police in Morrell Park last week refused orders to drop a .357-caliber revolver, according to court records, telling officers, "You're going to have to shoot me."

The man, 22-year-old Bernard Lofton of Parkville, was shot by officers who had been called to the 1800 block of Spence St. for a report that two men wearing police tactical vests had entered an apartment.

Homicide detectives continue to investigate the shooting, and the officers are on routine suspension with pay. The account is contained within charging documents for 30-year-old Brandon Smith, of Owings Mills, who police say was with Lofton and was found hiding in the apartment's bathroom after the shooting.

A witness told police he saw the two men wearing police vests and masks knocking on a side door of the building, records show. They asked him if he knew if a certain person lived in the apartment, then told him that they had a warrant and to go back inside.

The witness did as they said but was suspicious because he did not see police radios or other equipment, and he called 911, police wrote in court records.

The officers who arrived on scene, who all joined the agency in 2012, would later tell a homicide detective investigating the shooting that the door to the apartment had been forced open and they heard noises inside.

Officers Michael McNish and Aileen Villodas encountered Lofton in a hallway near an unopened rear door and saw him holding a revolver, police say. As McNish ordered Lofton to drop the weapon, Officer Hovhannes Simonyan entered through the rear door.

Now surrounded by the officers, Lofton challenged the officers to shoot him, and McNish said he could hear another man yelling for Lofton to drop the gun, records show.

When Lofton turned toward Simonyan, he and Villodas both opened fire, shooting Lofton in the torso, police wrote in court records. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:45 p.m. Detectives called to the scene found a .357-caliber Taurus revolver on the ground, loaded with six rounds.

Smith was then found in the bathroom, police say. Homicide detectives investigating the shooting said they found a roll of duct tape in a backpack believed to belong to Lofton, along with a PlayStation 3, an iPad, and boxes of jewelry belonging to the resident of the apartment.

A .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, with one round in the chamber and "nine to 10 rounds" in the magazine, was found hidden in the tank of the bathroom toilet, and police also said they found jewelry from the residence on the floor.

Outside the apartment, police found a white 2013 Hyundai, which they believe belonged to the suspects. Smith was taken to police headquarters, where he requested an attorney and declined to answer questions.

Smith has been charged with burglary, conspiracy to committed armed robbery, impersonating a police officer, and other related charges, and was being held on $150,000 bond. An attorney is not listed in court records.

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