By Michelle Richardson, Special to the AFRO
Earlier this week, a member of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), was shot and two people were killed during an attempted robbery of a methadone clinic in North Baltimore.
Police responded to the Man Alive Methadone Clinic at 2117 Maryland Avenue on July 15, at approximately 7:00am for a report of multiple people shot.
According to its website, the Man Alive clinic specializes in substance abuse and mental health disorders.
When BPD units arrived on the scene, they encountered an armed man demanding methadone and holding clinic workers and patients hostage. Officers reportedly entered the clinic and tried to de-escalate the situation when the suspect began firing at police, forcing officers to return fire.
In the exchange of bullets, BPD Sgt. Billy Shiflett, 51, a 25 -year veteran of the force, was struck in the stomach under his vest. Shiflett was pulled to safety outside of the building by another responding officer, Christopher Miller.
Shiflett was transported to Shock Trauma in serious but stable condition and rushed into emergency surgery.
He is expected to survive.
“This was a dangerous situation that could’ve been far worse for our officers, but they showed extreme courage, extreme bravery and professionalism,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at a news conference outside the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Harrison said he and members of the U.S. Department of Justice consent decree monitoring team have reviewed the body-worn camera footage from the incident. He said the department is following a recently established policy and will have up to a week to determine whether to release it publicly.
On July 16, police identified the deceased suspect as 49-year-old Ashanti Pinkney. Witnesses say Pinkney lived nearby and had a previous altercation with the clinic staff the Friday before.
According to online records, Pinkney has an arrest history that includes several drug and theft charges between 1999 and 2008.
Police also identified the name of a deceased civilian who died as 52-year-old David Caldwell, 52, of the 500 block of Parksley Avenue in Southeast Baltimore.
Caldwell, a phlebotomist, was working inside the clinic when the shooting occurred, according to police. Co-workers said he was well-loved amongst his peers.
A 41-year-old woman who was injured in the incident was released from the hospital the evening of the shooting. She was also working inside the clinic when the violence began.
Gov. Larry Hogan called the shooting a “senseless act of violence.”
“Our hearts are with the victims’ loved ones, and we are grateful for the prompt response by law enforcement,” he said in a statement via Twitter.
City Council President Brandon Scott said the shooting shows the continued need to quell gun violence in the city, which is on pace to reach 300 homicides for the fifth year in a row.
“This… event highlighted the heroism of Sgt. Shiflett and his fellow officers, while again reminding us of the severe problem of gun violence in our city. It’s imperative that we deal with the flow of illegal guns into our city,” he said.
Man Alive Inc., was closed July 16, and patients were redirected to nearby REACH Clinic for treatment, according to a recorded message on the clinic’s phone.
Neil Kavanaugh, 51, a patient, said he never expected anything like this to happen because the clinic has armed security.
“You come here to get your medication and that’s it,” he said to FOX 45. “It’s just crazy.”