A man was shot to death by a Baltimore County police officer in Reisterstown Wednesday after trying to pass off a fake prescription at a pharmacy, then running from the officer, police said.
An employee at Nature Care Pharmacy in the Reisterstown Village shopping center in the first block of Main Street called police just before 5 p.m. to report the fake prescription, police said.
The responding officer saw the suspect in the shopping center parking lot and chased him across the street to the parking lot of the Word of Life International Church, where a "confrontation" occurred and the officer fired multiple shots, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said.
The suspect was identified by police Friday as 19-year-old Keith Harrison McLeod, whose last known address is the 1200 block of Faraday Place NE, Washington, D.C.
Detectives pulled video from nearby businesses that shows "the suspect aggressively advancing on a single officer, who retreats with his gun drawn," the department said in a statement Thursday.
The video shows McLeod then reaching around to the small of his back and abruptly whipping his hand around and pointing it toward the officer, as if with a weapon, police said. The motion causes the officer to fire his gun as the man quickly pulls his hand forward from his waistband. Police said that once McLeod is on the ground, he continues to reach into his waistband, as if for a weapon, and does not comply with the officer's orders.
Witnesses said that "they heard the officer repeatedly giving the suspect commands to 'stop,' and that they heard the suspect shouting profanities at the officer," the police statement said.
McLeod was taken to Northwest Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police said the officer fired three shots, and the medical examiner confirmed he was shot three times.
Police also said on Thursday that no weapon was found at the scene.
Detectives said McLeod had tried to obtain Promethazine plus Codeine at the pharmacy. Police said the narcotic cough syrup is often combined with alcohol to produce a "high."
The department is withholding the officer's name, per a union agreement which requires the department to withhold officers last names until 48 hours after a shooting.
The police officer was not injured. He had not given a statement as of Wednesday night, but police said he and other witnesses in the area would be interviewed.
Jesse Issa, 53, who owns Mondo Pizza and Bar next door and lives across the street, said he thought the gunshots were firecrackers. He and his brother, Mike, who works as a chef at the restaurant, walked over to see what happened.
"You could still smell the gunpowder in the air," Mike Issa said.
Two ambulances quickly pulled into the parking lot and eight medics tried to revive the suspect, Jesse Issa said. He said one walked back to the ambulance shaking his head and told him, "There's not much we can do."
"It was horrible seeing that body," Issa said. "It's a shame. The violence is unbelievable. Over what? A [expletive] fake prescription? I feel for his parents."
Erik Swanson, 28, who works at the Association for Animal Rights Inc. down the street said he was cleaning dog cages with two volunteers when the shooting happened. They locked the doors and he walked a colleague to her car.
"Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily surprise me," he said. "Obviously it's terrible. There's a lot of violence in this general area."
Half a dozen Word of Life International church members stood in a circle, holding hands and praying in the dark parking lot Wednesday night in lieu of their weekly Bible study in the church, which was cordoned off by crime scene tape.
The Rev. Ivan Brooms, the church's pastor, said the incident was "tragic" for all involved.
"Naturally, we prayed for the young man and for his family," he said.
The officer is on routine administrative leave. Once the homicide investigation is complete, the Baltimore County State's Attorney's office will review the case.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this story.