A 36-year-old Southeast Washington woman suspected of shoplifting was shot and critically wounded by Prince George's County police last night after firing at pursuing officers with a handgun, county police reported.
The woman, Lorie M. Ellis of 501 Lebaum St. Se, was in surgery early today at Prince George's General Hospital. Police said she was wounded twice in the abdomen.
Officers were dispatched to the K. mart store in the 3900 block of St. Barnabas Road, Marlow Heights, police said, after a security guard at the store allegedly saw a woman shoplifting.
When three officers arrived a few minutes before 7 p.m., according to police, the woman fled from the store across St. Barnabas Road and fired a pistol at the pursuing officiers and the security guard.
The officers returned the gunfire, wounding the woman, police said.
The three officers -- Sgt. Dean Kapiskosky, Pvt. David Brown and Pvt. Eugene Patterson -- were placed on routine administrative leave with pay pending an internal investigation.
Details of the alleged shoplifting incident could not be learned early today. Police said their investigation was continuing.
Ellis is black; the police who fired at here are white.
Shootings of black suspects by Prince George's police have been the subject of controversy in recent years. In early 1978, the police force was severly criticized after a black shoplifting suspect and a black burglary suspect were shot to death by white officers within a period of four weeks.
Then, in a celebrated case that has left feeling of bitterness with many county officers, Terrence G. Johnson, a 15-year-old black youth, shot and killed two policemen in the Hyattsville police station where he was taken on suspicion of rifling coin boxes at a laundromat in June 1978.
Angry police officers argued that the deaths proved police were in constant danger in the contry.
Johnson was acquitted of murder chargers last March by a jury that convicted him of less charges -- voluntary manslaughter and illegal use of a handgun.
Police said last night that the shooting of Ellis was in on way related to race.