Suspect shot in gun battle with police
A Prince George's County police officer shot and critically wounded a robbery suspect Thursday night after the suspect fired at least one shot at him at point blank range, authorities said.
The suspect, an 18-year-old from Landover, remained hospitalized with life threatening injuries Friday morning, authorities said. Maj. Andrew Ellis, the department's public affairs commander, said the officer hit him with several shots. The officer, he said, was not injured.
The incident began about 8 p.m. Thursday, when officers were called to the townhouse community on Cedarwood Court in Landover for a reported robbery, Ellis said. Officers from the police department's District III robbery suppression team got a description of the suspect and remained in the area looking for him, Ellis said.
The effort paid off about an hour later, when an officer spotted a man matching the description of the robbery suspect, Ellis said. The officer stopped the man and started giving him a pat down, he said. When the officer felt what he thought was a gun, the situation turned violent, Ellis said.
The man struggled to keep the gun from the officer, eventually drawing it and firing at least one shot, Ellis said. The officer, a seven-year veteran who was alone with the suspect, drew his own weapon and returned fire, striking the suspect several times, Ellis said.
After he was shot, the man ran about 100 yards to a nearby 7-Eleven, still carrying his gun, Ellis said. Other officers intercepted him there and wrestled the gun away from him, Ellis said. He said the gun was a Taurus 9mm with a serial number that had been obliterated.
Ellis declined to identify the suspect by name because he has not yet been charged with any crimes. He also declined to identify the officer because it is department policy to wait 24 hours before doing so.
Ellis said at least preliminarily, it appears the officer's actions were justified.
"It's only by the grace of god that we're not planning a police officer's funeral today," Ellis said, adding that initially, the officer believed he had been struck by gunfire. "It's hard to understand how somebody could ... walk around with a handgun with an obliterated serial number, rob somebody, and then shoot at a police officer - at the tender age of 18. Clearly, this was a dangerous person."
The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave, as is department policy for officer-involved shootings, Ellis said. He said police initially took into custody another suspect believed to have been either involved in the robbery or an associate of the man who was shot. That person's involvement, he said, remains unclear.
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