- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2003

A high-ranking police official told the D.C. Council yesterday the Metropolitan Police Department is investigating whether police officers are being targeted by criminals citywide, after at least two families living in the 5th Police District reported that their homes and cars were shot at.

During the council’s judiciary committee hearing, Executive Assistant Police Chief Michael Fitzgerald said he has asked the department’s intelligence division to re-examine the destruction-of-property cases, including Tuesday’s shooting outside an Amtrak police officer’s home in the Trinidad neighborhood. He said he wants to see if officers who live in the District are being intimidated or harassed by criminals.

Chief Fitzgerald said he didn’t rule out the possibility that criminals have targeted officers in some cases, including that of Metro Transit Police Capt. William Malone, whose truck was sprayed with bullets outside his home in the Woodridge neighborhood last month.

“I believe there are cases where there are some officers that have been targeted,” Chief Fitzgerald said. “I’m not saying that never happens. I think that basically the captain’s car was targeted. I think he was out there actually doing what we ask folks to do, to get involved in your community. I believe that basically drug dealers — this is just my belief now — retaliated against his car.”

Authorities said yesterday the suspect wanted in the shooting of Capt. Malone’s truck surrendered to 5th District police Wednesday night. Dominick Flowers, 19, of Northeast, was charged with one felony count of destruction of property.

Capt. Malone’s girlfriend, Sandy Nelson, said yesterday she was “pleased” to hear about the arrest and Chief Fitzgerald’s commitment to investigate the recent shootings. “I hope the results will be made public and I hope what we learn from this will make it safe for other police families,” Miss Nelson said.

But while Chief Fitzgerald thinks it’s a good idea to double-check such cases, he said he doesn’t believe there is a criminal trend emerging against police families. “I don’t think [criminals] are bold enough to target police officers,” he said. “If we thought that, we’d go after them.”

Police said they believe the bullets that struck an Amtrak police officer’s canine-patrol truck, his wife’s minivan and the frame above his front door were “stray gunfire.”

“You tell me two of his cars got hit, I’m saying, ‘Wait a minute, they must have targeted him,’” Chief Fitzgerald said. “[Detectives] actually went down there and said basically, ‘No, it was another guy running between.’”

A Potomac Electric Power Co. employee was injured in the same gunfire. His injuries were not life-threatening.

Chief Fitzgerald said it was his understanding that a December 2000 shooting involving Deborah Rosario, the wife of 5th District Master Patrol Officer Fred Rosario, was also a case of crossfire.

Mrs. Rosario was shot at in December 2000 outside her Northeast home two days after she provided grand jury testimony in a homicide case. According to an investigative report obtained by The Washington Times, detectives downgraded the shooting to an “incident” three days later and closed the case.

“There are many things that have happened to us as a result of living in this neighborhood and there are other things that have happened as a result of my husband being a police officer,” Mrs. Rosario said. “I can distinguish the difference.”

Chief Fitzgerald said investigators will take another look at Mrs. Rosario’s case to see if it was mishandled.

“If that’s the case, not only will there be a criminal investigation but an administrative investigation to find out why somebody wasn’t doing what they were supposed to be doing,” he said.

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