Police Shooting Disrupts Peaceful Morning
"You don't expect to come to work and hear gunshots," says witness to shooting outside Catonsville auto shop.
Kristyn, a Catonsville auto shop employee who asked that her last name not be used, had just stepped out to her car in the parking lot when gun shots rang out behind her back.
Instinctively, she immediately dropped to the ground, she said.
"It was just a normal day," said Kristyn, who works at A-Z Mechanical on Smith Lane. "You don't expect to come to work and hear gunfire."
At around 11:35 a.m., a Baltimore County police officer shot the driver of a stolen car when the vehicle lurched toward the officer, according to police officials.
The suspect fled in the vehicle, which was located in the parking lot near the Catonsville High School athletic field off Hilltop Road.
Police have not identified the suspect, who was transported to University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center.
Events began to unfold in the parking lot of European Motors, located on the unit block of Smith Lane, which is behind the 700 block of Frederick Road in the central Catonsville business district.
According to witnesses, a man driving a white late-model Toyota RAV 4 pulled into the parking lot outside European Motors and went in the shop seeking a former employee.
"He was looking for somebody who used to work here a long time ago," said Travis Cochran, a mechanic at the shop. "He just walked right in."
Around the time that the suspect was inside the auto shop, a police officer on patrol was checking vehicles in the parking lot when he saw the RAV 4, according to officials.
"The car was parked differently than the others," said Capt. John Spiroff, commander of Precinct 1/Wilkens. "All the other cars were facing one way, and this car was facing the other way."
The officer ran the license plates of the vehicle, which revealed that the car had been reported stolen in Carroll County, Spiroff said.
As the suspect walked out of the auto shop and toward the vehicle, the police officer told him to stop, according to Spiroff.
The suspect ignored the order and entered the vehicle, driving it forward toward the police officer, Spiroff said.
The officer fired his service weapon, striking the suspect in the upper body, according to officials.
"He fired at least once," Spiroff said. "We're not sure whether it was once or twice."
Witnesses report hearing more than one gunshot.
"I heard two shots," said Robert Slavikas, owner of European Motors.
"I heard multiple gunshots behind me," Kristyn said.
"I saw the officer at the side of the vehicle," said Dale Brashear of Catonsville, who was smoking a cigarette at the rear door of Morseberger's Tavern. "Just like that, shots were fired."
The suspect drove toward Bloomsbury Avenue and turned right toward University of Maryland, Baltimore County, according to Spiroff.
"He just flew out of here," said Slavikas.
The officer relayed the description of the vehicle over his radio, and other police cruisers canvassed the area, according to officials.
Within minutes, the RAV 4 was located in the upper parking lot near the CHS athletic field, on the eastern side of the school grounds off Hilltop Avenue.
According to officials, the suspect was out of the vehicle and lying on the ground when officers arrived on the scene.
The suspect was transported by ambulance to Shock Trauma, and is expected to survive his injuries, according to officials.
Police have not released the suspect's identity. Police spokeman Ofc. Shawn Vinson said that the suspect would not be named until he is charged, and likely won't be charged until he is released from the hospital.
The officer involved in the shooting will be placed on routine paid administrative leave pending an investigation of the incident by the police department's homicide and internal affairs units, according to Vinson.
Catonsville Elementary School, located about a block away from the shooting scene, was not affected by the incident. The elementary school was not locked down after the shooting, according to a school official.
Catonsville High School is not visible from the location at the Hilltop Avenue parking lot, with a thick stand of trees obscuring the view. Activity at the school was not affected, officials said.
According to a message released by CHS at 12:30 p.m., the doors to the school were "temporarily locked while the police handled their situation." Students were dismissed at the regular time of 2:15 p.m., school officials said.
People in the vicinity remained shaken after the incident.
"It's a relatively quiet neighborhood," Kristyn said. "I've spent a lot of time here. You don't expect gunfire."
"Catonsville is supposed to be all quiet, but I know better," Brashear said. "The city is creeping in."