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Palczynski hit 27 times, autopsy concludes

Sun Reporters

A state autopsy has concluded that police shot Joseph C. Palczynski 27times the night they stormed the Dundalk apartment where he had been holdingthree hostages.

The 23-page report, issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,found that Palczynski was killed by 23 "penetrating" gunshot wounds. He wasgrazed by four other bullets.

Palczynski, a 31-year-old unemployed electrician, had been holding threehostages -- his ex-girlfriend's mother, the mother's boyfriend and thecouple's 12-year-old son -- for four days before he was fatally shot.

The autopsy found that Palczynski had traces of Xanax -- an anti-anxietydrug that can cause drowsiness -- in his urine. That supports an account byone of the hostages, Lynn Whitehead, that she placed the drug in his iced teaand escaped 20 minutes later after he fell asleep.

No other trace of drugs or alcohol were found in his body, the report said.

Officials at the medical examiners office ruled the cause of deathhomicide. Most of the entry wounds were in the right front areas ofPalczynski's body. The report said he was hit in the chest, face, arms, kneesand legs.

County police said two tactical officers -- Frank D. Barile, 36, and RobertO. Jones, 37 -- shot Palczynski as he was rising from a couch. He had a.357-caliber Magnum resting on his stomach and other weapons nearby, policesaid.

"It is my understanding that [Palczynski] sat up and articulated a sound ofsurprise," Michael Marshall, an attorney representing Barile and Jones, saidyesterday. "They were authorized to shoot him. The fact they hit that manytimes tells me they were well trained."

The report did not indicate whether Palczynski was sitting up or lying downwhen he was shot. The officers shot him with MP 5 submachine guns, which arecapable of firing 800 rounds a minute.

"I think they responded adequately and professionally," said Sgt. ColeWeston, president of the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 4.

Palczynski was accused of killing four people and kidnapping two othersbetween March 7 and March 17, when he broke into the Dundalk apartment andtook the hostages.

Police said that on the night of March 21, Whitehead spiked Palczynski'siced tea with Xanax and slipped out a bedroom window as he slept. She wasfollowed a few minutes later by her boyfriend, Andy McCord, but the couple'sson, 12-year-old Bradley McCord, remained in the apartment. A team of policeofficers, including tactical officers, rushed into the apartment, shotPalczynski and rescued the boy.

Xanax usually takes from one to two hours to take effect, said Dr. DavidMays, director of drug information services at the University of Maryland,Baltimore. However, because Palczynski had little sleep the drug might haveaffected him faster.

"He was very susceptible to sleep and I think Xanax enhanced his sleep,"Mays said.

Police declined to comment on specific findings in the report. "All of theinformation we have developed so far -- including the autopsy report --supports the version of events we released immediately following theshooting," said Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman.

An official in the Baltimore County state's attorney's office said recentlythat police apparently acted within legal guidelines in shooting and killingPalczynski.

Deputy State's Attorney Sue A. Schenning, who reviews police shootings forthe office, said yesterday that no information has surfaced to alter thatpreliminary assessment. Baltimore County homicide detectives have not compiledtheir final report on the department internal investigation into the shooting.Toohey said the report could be completed in about two weeks.

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