MAN SHOOTS POLICEMAN IN FACE, FLEES
Arresting Officer had just called for wagon for his suspect in 1956
A suspected automobile thief whipped out a gun at a police call box at North and Greenmount avenues and fired into the mouth of a traffic patrolman late yesterday after the policeman had summoned a patrol wagon to pick up his prisoner. The officer, Patrolman Donald E. Fisher, 37, fired four shots at his Negro assailant, who escaped south on Greenmount and west on Lanvale street. Patrolman Fisher was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where it was reported the gunman's bullet had ricocheted off a denture, split the policeman's tongue, entered the roof of his mouth and lodged near his right ear. The hospital said last night he was in satisfactory condition and resting comfortably. It said the bullet had not been, recovered. Fires At Pursuers Witnesses at the scene of the shooting said the escaping car thief fired twice at men who pursued him on Greenmount. Preliminary reports were that two young men driving south on Greenmount toward North Avenue spotted a car stolen from one of them Monday night and forced them to the curb. The men, Harold S.Tabb, 27, of the 3300 block Avondale Avenue, and Alan Gross, 27, of the 3900 block Maine Avenue, pulled the negro occupant from the car and turned him over to Patrolman Fisher. Patrolman Fisher called for a patrol wagon at 5:26 P.M. from the box at the Southwest corner of North and Greenmount. Second Call Comes A few minutes later a second came in from the box, this one asking for assistance. It was followed almost immediately by a third call for an ambulance for Patrolman Fisher. A police car reached the intersection before the ambulance and took the wounded officer to St Joseph's Hospital. Police said last night they did not know who had put in the second and third calls. They said there had been a scuffle at the call box after the first call, in which James C. Pierce, of the 400 block East North avenue, assisted Patrolman Fisher. Mr. Tabb and Mr. Gross. As police pieced together the next moments, the man under arrest who already had been frisked by the patrolman, pull a gun from his belt suddenly and fired. They said the assist call apparently had been placed during the struggle which preceded the first shot. Two bullets fired in the shooting hit the back window of Mr. Tabb's car. The stolen car belonged to Mr. Gross. Bullet Picked Up One spent bullet was picked up near the call box and sent to the crime laboratory. Police said it might be from a .32 caliber weapon. As the gunman ran south on Greenmount Avenue, Patrolman Frank Wrzosek of the Northeastern District, jumped in the Tabb car with Mr. Tabb, and they chased him two blocks before he disappeared. As soon as it was known Patrolman Fisher had fired at the man who shot him, police put out an order for a check of all hospitals and doctors on the chance the gunman had sought medical treatment. He was described as about 28 or 29 years old and 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing about 175 pounds. Wearing Jacket Witnesses said he was wearing a brown leather jacket and a gray hat. Central District police checked a house in the 1700 block Barclay street last night following a report that a man answering the description of the escaped gunman had been seen there. The Barclay street man was seen leaving the house in a black and white plaid jacket, a light hat with a black band and muddy shoes, and police relayed this information by radio to supplement the description already moved in connection with the city wide search for the gunman. Converge On Area Later police converged on the area north of the Pennsylvania Railroad's North avenue bridge at the Falls road. A Central District post patrolman had reported seeing a man who looked like the suspect there. Soon afterward police received further word that a man resembling the gunman had been seen leaving a shack on a Pennsylvania Railroad siding and running north on the tracks. Mrs. Fisher, wife of the patrolman, and their two sons, Donald,12 and James,11, arrived at the hospital at 6.15 P.M. in an inspector's car. After seeing her husband, Mrs. Fisher said he appeared to be doing all right. The Fishers, who live at 1608 Montpelier Street, have a third child, Barbara Ann, 14. Patrolman Fisher has been on the force for twelve years. He is a Motorcycle Officer. His denture is the result of his tangle last year with a young burglar armed with a chisel.
Fisher Tells Of Shooting
Burglar, Chisel, False Teeth Save Patrolman Donald E. Fisher
Fisher was struck in the mouth by a bullet from a small, brass revolver fired by a suspected car thief he had caught.
The burly officer should be dead. He definitely is not. He sat up yesterday in his bed at St. Joseph's Hospital to greet his attractive wife, Anna, for the bullet was deflected by his denture and fell out of his mouth..
He has the denture, because on New Year's Day, 1954, a burglar he had apprehended lambasted him in the mouth with a 10 inch steel chisel, knocking all but four of his teeth out. A month later the police department paid for a full upper plate and a partial lower one.
"It's a funny thing, but I owe my life to that burglar“, Officer Fisher said yesterday.
The burglar was caught, tried and sentenced to a five year term, Fisher said. Even with all his teeth out, the tough policeman refused to let to let go of him.
Mrs. Fisher, who received the news that her husband had been shot in the bluntest, most cruel fashion, adds another coincidence to the case.
She says: "All I can say is thank God, and I hope he never has to the corner of Greenmount and North Avenues again. That sure is a bad luck corner for us."
That's the corner where Fisher was shot Tuesday afternoon: It is also the corner where 10 years ago Fisher, while on motorcycle duty, was struck by a car.
He was chasing a speeding car on his motorcycle and was struck by another car which crashed the red light at the intersection. He received a concussion and was hospitalized for four days, Mrs. Fisher Said. "I asked him the other day to get transferred away from that corner and now he gets shot there." Mrs. Fisher had gone down that ill-fated corner to pick up her husband when he got off duty at 6 P. M. I saw all the commotion and asked what happened. Some fellow came over and said 'If you're waiting for Fisher, you might as well go'." As shocked and as frightened as she was by this remark, she was even more so, she said, when she climbed into the inspector's car and heard over the radio that her husband had been shot. It was not until later at the hospital that she learned he was not seriously hurt. The bullet which struck Officer Fisher in the mouth hit his denture, rattled around in his mouth, lacerated his tongue and fell to the ground. It was found the next day on the sidewalk. Neither of the Fishers know whether it was a steel denture or not. It looked like an ordinary set of false teeth. Dr. Linwood Ortel, dentist, who did the surgical and dental work on Fisher after his first injury, said his plates were made of acrylic resin, a material which is a member of the plastic group.
This material, Dr. Ortel said, is very hard, light and durable. It certainly proved so when Fisher was shot. Dr. Ortel said Fisher has a complete upper denture made of this material and a partial lower denture. Fisher, who talked like a man with a sore tongue, said the shooting occurred when he was called by two men who had caught a Negro. They claimed the Negro had stolen their car.
Courtesy Sergeant James Fisher (Son)
Wounded patrolman consoled by wife
Patrolman Donald E. Fisher, shown with wife, Anna, credits denture with saving his life.
Man, 29, Being Questioned In Shooting Of Officer
Police are questioning a 29 year old man arrested early today in connection with the shooting of Patrolman Donald E. Fisher late yesterday. Patrolman Fisher was reported in “satisfactory” condition at St. Joseph’s Hospital today. He was shot in the mouth by a suspected automobile thief at a Police call box at North and Greenmount Avenues. The suspect, a Negro, was taken into custody by two Traffic patrolmen at Calvert and Twentieth Streets at about 10 A.M. He was taken to Central District Police Headquarters for questioning. The shooting occurred yesterday at about 5:30 P.M. minutes after the alleged car thief was turned over to Patrolman Fisher by two men who said they had pulled him from a stolen automobile, Police gave this account of the shooting: Harold S. Tabb, 27, of the 3300 block Avondale Avenue, and Alan Gross, 27, of the 3900 Maine Avenue, were driving south on Greenmount Avenue toward North Avenue when they saw a car stolen from Gross Monday night.
On Traffic Duty
They forced it to the curb near the corner of North Avenue, collared its occupant and turned him over to Patrolman Fisher, a motorcycle officer who had, been on traffic duty at the intersection.
After frisking the man, Patrolman Fisher put in a call for a patrol wagon. The initial call was followed within minutes by two more calls, one requesting assistance and the second an ambulance for Patrolman Fisher.
Piecing together the chain of events following the first call; police said the suspect apparently began scuffling with the patrolman, Tabb and Gross and James C. Pierce, of the 400 block East North Avenue, who was attempting to assist the officer.
Police believe the suspect then pulled a gun from his belt, which Patrolman Fisher had failed to notice, and shot the officer in the mouth at close range. The bullet crashed into a denture in Patrolman Fisher's mouth, split his tongue and entered the roof of his mouth.
The officer drew his own gun and fired four times at the fleeing man Witnesses at the scene reported that the man returned the fire, shooting twice as he fled south on foot down Greenmount Avenue.
Shots Fired In Pursuit
He was pursued by Patrolman Frank Wrzosek, of the Northeastern District, and Tabb in the latter's automobile. One of the shots fired by the fleeing man struck their car and was later found on the floorboards.
Suspect Freed In Fisher Assault
Police investigating the shooting of Patrolman Donald E. Fisher released a 29-year-old man, yesterday afternoon after questioning him for several hours.
The man, a Negro, had been picked up by two traffic patrolmen about 10 A,M. at Calvert and Twentieth streets.
Patrolman Fisher was shot in the mouth by a suspected car thief late Tuesday at a police call box at North and Greenmount Avenues. St. Joseph's Hospital reported last night he was "doing very well."
Policeman's Hard Luck Continues
Patrolman Donald E. Fisher described by fellow traffic officers as '''the hard-luck guy." last night suffered a possible heart attack as he was preparing to go on duty. The 37 year old motorcycle officer only recently recovered from a gunshot wound in the mouth he received while arresting a suspected automobile thief in March.
In January 1955, he was struck, in the face "by chisel when he and another patrolman arrested a burglar attempting to break into a tailor shop.
Fellow officers rushed the stricken patrolman to Mercy Hospital from the Police Headquarters Building in a squad car.
A hospital physician, who described his condition as fair, said Patrolman Fisher had a possible coronary attack.
Fisher Better After Attack
Baltimore hard luck patrolman, Donald E. Fisher, thirty- seven, was reported in “satisfactory" condition in Mercy Hospital today after suffering a heart attack as he prepared to, take his post last night. He only recently recovered from a bullet wound in his mouth. He received it as he arrested a suspected auto thief in March. His denture miraculously saved his life. Eighteen months ago, he was struck in the face with a chisel when he another policeman arrested a burglar.
Motorist Is Arrested After 7-Mile Chase
Anne Arundel county police reported early this morning that following a 7-mile chase from near the Baltimore City line to Sunset Beach. John J. Cleckner, 23, was apprehended as he jumped from his car near his home on Stoney Creek Road, Sunset Beach.
According to Police, Cleckner was seen traveling at a high rate of speed on Pennington Avenue by Traffic Officers, James Devoe and Donald Fisher. Radioing ahead to Anne Arundel County Police to meet them in the chase, the two officers attained a speed of over 70 miles an hour, they said, before arresting Cleckner at his home.
Louis Horowitz, 1700 block Ruxton Avenue, whose cab was alleged to have caused injury to Motorcycle Patrolman Donald Fisher at Greenmount Avenue and Thirty-Fifth street on December 16, got off with a $5 fine for making a left turn from a right-hand curb.
It was testified that both cab and motorcycle veered sharply in opposite directions, to avoid collision and that, the motorcycle overturned. Horowitz was charged with reckless driving, but was dismissed on that count.
"However," Magistrate Barrett said, "When you make a left turn from a right curb you can't escape the consequences."