Dr. Michael Halberstam, 48, a nationally known heart specialist and author, was shot and fatally wounded last night by an intruder he and his wife surprised in their house in upper Northwest Washington.
A suspect was picked up by police shortly afterward within a few blocks of the Halberstams' home on Battery Place NW.
Halberstam hit the suspect with his car as he and his wife were driving to Sibley Memorial Hospital, police sources said.
The suspect was taken to D.C. General Hospital for treatment of internal injuries. He was listed in stable condition late last night.
Halberstam died shortly after undergoing emergency surgery at Sibley.
Halberstam and his wife encountered the intruder about 8:30 p.m. inside their home at 2806 Battery Pl. NW, police sources said. The Halberstams had just returned to the darkened house when they came upon the man, according to one source.
Police sources said the intruder pointed a handgun at the couple and said: "Hit the floor and freeze."
After threatening to shoot if the doctor or his wife moved, the intruder apparently went to another part of the house, according to police sources. After a period of silence, Halberstam, possibly believing the intruder had left, got up, the sources said.
Almost immediately the intruder fired, and Halberstam was hit in the chest, the sources said.
Neighbors on the quiet cul-de-sac near Battery Kemble Park reported hearing shouts and as many as three or four more shots.
Attracted by the noise and confusion, several neighbors hurried outside, and said they saw a man wearing a ski jacket flee from the Halberstam home.
Within seconds, the neighbors said, they saw the doctor and his wife emerge from the house and go to their automobile.
Although wounded, Halberstam, according to a reliable source, took the wheel of the car, and his wife jumped in beside him.
A short distance from his house, Halberstam reportedly spotted the man he believed to be his assailant.
The doctor struck the man with his car, the source said.
Police who converged on the area, picked up a man in the 5000 block of Dana Place, within a few blocks of the Halberstam home.
Meanwhile, the doctor continued driving to the hospital, the source said. However at the intersection of Loughboro Road and MacArthur Boulevard, Halberstam, weakened by loss of blood, lost control of the car and hit a tree or pole, the source said.
Mrs. Halberstam left the car and ran into the hospital for help, the source said.
The wounded doctor was carried into the hospital, where surgery began in the emergency room, according to police sources.
The man picked up by police at Dana Place was brought to the hospital for identification by Halberstam's wife, police sources said.
He was then taken to D.C. General Hospital, and police said last night that they expected that he would be held in the lockup ward there.
As of early this morning, no formal charges had been placed against him.
Police said it was not immediately known whether anything had been taken from the Halberstam residence. A handgun was recovered during the course of their investigation, they said.
The incident occurred at a time when serious crime, including burglary, has been increasing sharply in Washington.
Many of the burglaries have been occurring in prosperous sections of Northwest Washington, such as the one in which the Halberstam home is located.
Halberstam, a physician here for 18 years, was the son of a physician and the brother of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author David Halberstam.
In 1978, he published "The Wanting of Levine," a humorous work of fiction.
His other books were "The Pills in Your Life" and "A Coronary Event."
In the latter, he and a patient, Stephan Lesher, collaborated to tell the story of Lesher's heart attack.
In addition to the books, Halberstam frequently contributed reviews and articles to newspapers and magazines, and for a time wrote a syndicated medical column.
Halberstam was born in the Bronx and graduated from Harvard University and Boston University Medical School.
After serving as a cardiology fellow at George Washington University Medical School from 1962 to 1964, he began private practice here. He also had served since 1972 as a member of the George Washington University medical faculty.
Dr. Halberstam maintained an office on L Street NW in the West End area.
He had two children from a previous marriage.