Policeman Injured in Shootout Reported in Fair Condition
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) _ A policeman was reported in fair condition today in the aftermath of a shootout in which another officer and a gunman were killed at a public housing unit described as a haven for drug users.
The injured policeman, identified as Andrew Chelchowski, was at the Washington Hospital Center with leg wounds, said Alexandria police spokesman Joseph Hilleary. He was taken there by helicopter after the shootout late Wednesday in this Washington, D.C., suburb.
Another policeman, Cpl. Charles Hill, 40, a 13-year veteran of the force, was killed in the shootout, as was the gunman, whose identity was not released. Hill suffered massive head injuries from a shotgun blast.
The public housing unit where the gunman terrorized five hostages and called for a ″rock″ of crack cocaine was known as a haven for drug users, said Alexandria Mayor James Moran.
Moran said eviction proceedings had been undertaken against the family where the shooting happened, but he expressed frustration with the 60-day timetable for eviction. ″It’s federal property and you have to go through a labyrinthine legal system,″ he said.
″There are tens of thousands of people in the metro region that are deserving of subsidized housing and desperately in need of it, and to have people use public housing as a crack house is intolerable,″ he said.
The 2 1/2 -hour siege began when the shotgun-wielding man entered the house Wednesday afternoon and took the five hostages, police spokesman Hilleary said.
″I thought I was a dead man,″ one unidentified former hostage told WUSA- TV. ″He kept saying, ’I want a rock. I’m not going to hurt anyone, but I want a rock.‴
Police began negotiating with the gunman and the hostages were released one at a time, Hilleary said.
The gunman eventually emerged from the back door, holding a shotgun to the head of a hostage and demanding that police drop their weapons. One officer fired at the gunman, who fired back, shooting two policeman.
In the ensuing fight, the hostage escaped unharmed and the gunman was killed, Hilleary said.
Alexandria, a historic port city, is across the Potomac River from Washington, whose drug-related killings have earned it notoriety as the nation’s murder capital.