Police investigating after Md. ambulance struck by bullets

Police believe there was an altercation in the area just before the shooting that was not related to the ambulance’s presence in the area

By Kevin Rector
The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore ambulance was struck by gunfire in Northwest Baltimore on Wednesday morning, prompting a police investigation, police and fire officials confirmed.

“The good thing is that none of our medics were injured, and we're very appreciative of that,” Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Skinner said.

She referred questions to police.

Police said the ambulance was in the 2900 block of Wynham Road in the West Forest Park neighborhood shortly before 10 a.m. when the incident occurred.

Det. Jeremy Silbert said a man in his 30s was taken into custody, but that no victims of gunfire had been located. He said police officers were canvassing the area.

Silbert said the ambulance was in the area on a call — not for gunfire — when it was struck.

He said police believe there was an altercation in the area just before to the shooting that was not related to the ambulance’s presence in the area.

A fire dispatcher said the nature of the initial ambulance call to the area was not clear, and referred questions to Skinner. Skinner declined to provide the nature of the initial call, breaking with longstanding precedent for such requests.

Dickie Altieri, president of the local fire and EMS union, said he did not know the nature of the call, but said there were two emergency medical technicians at the scene when the shooting occurred.

Altieri said he went to the scene to check on his members and they were doing fine.

“Today’s incident ... is unfortunate; however, we are pleased that there was no intent to injure our members, or the patient being transported,” Altieri said in a statement. “All are well, and we strongly commend the actions of the two Emergency Medical Technicians on the scene to quickly and safely remove themselves from the area with the patient, and to the police officers who responded so diligently.”

Altieri said the union is working with the fire and police departments to figure out what happened, but declined to comment further, citing the continuing investigation.

The fire union has expressed concerns about the safety of medics and other members as they respond to calls in the city.

Altieri’s predecessor, Rick Hoffman, said last year that emergency medical responders were being attacked in Baltimore more frequently than in the past and should be equipped with protective vests.

"Obviously everyone knows we are in a very dangerous city now, and the way our EMS system works, [city residents] dial 911 and we're there in normally minutes, which means we beat the police there a lot," Hoffman said. "We're walking into a time bomb, a goddamned powder keg."

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh responded at the time by suggesting medical personnel never arrive on crime scenes before police, which is incorrect. Fire Chief Niles Ford said the department would be offering emergency medical personnel “Situational Awareness Training” and encouraged members to “remain vigilant.”

Skinner did not immediately respond to questions about the vest request on Wednesday.

Copyright 2018 The Baltimore Sun

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