By REGINA GARCIA CANO Associated Press
BALTIMORE (AP) — A man demanding methadone opened fire at a Baltimore addiction clinic Monday, killing one person and wounding a police sergeant before he was fatally shot by police, authorities said.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at a news conference that the gunman had gone into the clinic seeking the drug that helps control opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can be given only at government-regulated clinics.
The shooting was reported shortly after 7 a.m. and was captured on video by the body cameras of the officers who responded to the clinic, Harrison said. The man was buzzed into the clinic, and then the situation escalated.
“When our officers arrived, they were met by civilians outside who told them there was a man inside with a gun who had recently fired shots inside the building,” Harrison said.
The commissioner said responding officers “attempted to de-escalate the situation many times. However, the suspect began firing at them. As the suspect fired upon our officer, he returned gunfire but was struck by the suspect’s rounds.”
The injured sergeant was identified as Billy Shiflett, 48, a 25-year veteran of the force. He was wearing a bulletproof vest but the bullet struck his lower abdomen. Harrison said the sergeant underwent surgery and is in serious but stable condition.
Shiflett was pulled to safety by a fellow police officer. News outlets identified him as Christopher Miller, who has been on the force for about 2½ years.
The gunman was pronounced dead at the hospital.
A female employee at the clinic also was injured and expected to survive, Harrison said. It’s unclear if a man found fatally shot inside the clinic was a patient.
Police did not immediately identify the employee, the slain victim or the gunman. Harrison said police recovered from the scene a gun believed to be the gunman’s weapon. An internal investigation will look at the shooting because police were involved.
George Dowler, 61, told The Baltimore Sun that he was waiting for his daily methadone treatment when he heard gunshots inside a counselor’s office. Dowler said he saw another patient emerge from the office holding a counselor at gunpoint and demanding that he be led into an area where the drug is kept.
Pippy Scott, 65, told the newspaper a man with a silver gun walked by her counselor’s office inside the treatment center. She said she watched through the office window as the man banged on the door of an office and yelled for methadone. Scott said the man then held a gun to the head of an employee.
The counselor whom Scott was talking to tried to intervene.
“He was saying, ‘Come on man, let’s talk about it,'” Scott recalled.
Scott said a nurse then yelled for everyone to leave the clinic.
The clinic, Man Alive Treatment Center, also offers mental health assessments and services. Clinic representatives did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on the shooting.