A Northwest Washington woman who had reportedly been terrorizing her neighbors all through a long hot evening was shot to death by District police last night after she emerged from her apartment with a pistol in each hand and confronted several officers in the hallway.
Police officials said Doris E. Haskins, 49, of 811 Quincy Street NW. was felled by shotgun blasts fired by three Special Operations Division officers after the woman strode down the first-floor hallway toward them and then pointed the guns as if she were about to fire.
The officers repeatedly tried to persuade her to drop the weapons, officials said, and fired only as a last resort to protect themselves. Haskins died on the scene minutes after the 10:15 p.m. incident.
The shooting ended an evening in which officers has been called three times to the four-story, red-brick apartment building where Haskins, apparently disturbed by an unexplained incident three days ago, had been indiscriminately attacking her neighbors, witnesses said.
The last time officers came to the building and knocked on Haskins' door, she responded by threatening them with guns, officials said. When a police negotiating team arrived a short time later and tryed to talk her out of her apartment, she opened the door and tossed hot grease into the face of one officer, and tried to douse another with hot coffee. The injured officer was treated for first degree burns to the face.
Finally, police said, Haskins emerged from her apartment wielding the guns, one of which was reportedly a .45-caliber pistol. Police backed away from the door while calling to her to stop and surrender. When she kept advancing and raised the weapons, they fired.
"Where she was, it was almost impossible to keep her at bay," said Harry Ward of Lanham, who was visiting another apartment in the building. Other witnesses said Haskins taunted police as they tried to calm her, saying at one point "go ahead and shoot me."
"We moved heaven and earth not to shoot this woman," said one officer of the failed negotiations. "You can only wait so long before you pull the trigger."
Neighbors said that Haskins, a retired government employe, had been roaming about her block and nearby Georgia Avenue earlier yesterday, and once entered a beauty parlor and spit in a woman's face. Then, she allegedly returned to her apartment building and began attacking other tenants, using a pole for a weapon.
Ward, who had been acquainted with Haskins for six or seven years, said he knew her as "kind of a pleasant woman" who seemed recently to have been overcome by troubles. But "she was gradually changing. She'd be sitting out there talking to herself, just sitting on the front steps and talking to herself."
The three officers who fired the fatal blasts, Richard E. Dassing, Franklin A. Siwik and Charles R. Aldridge were placed on routine administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an investigation.