A 20-year-old man armed with a pellet gun was shot and killed by Prince George’s County police after an argument early Friday morning with his brother outside a Suitland apartment building.
About 2:15 a.m., county officers responded to reports of a dispute on Curtis Drive and of at least “one person armed with a long gun,” authorities said. When officers arrived, they found two men arguing, and one of them was armed with what appeared to be an assault rifle, police spokeswoman Julie Parker said.
The man — identified as Mark Anthony Blocker, a resident of the apartment complex — failed to obey an order to drop the long gun, and two officers fired their weapons, police said.
Later, police discovered that the long gun was a pellet gun, Parker said, and a handgun found at the scene was also a pellet gun. “It’s 2:15 in the morning and there are these guns designed to look like, in this case, an automatic weapon or AR-15,” Parker said. “Officers have that split second of time to process all that information.”
A statement released by the department said the two officers described themselves as “in fear for their lives” when they opened fire.
Police said that neither of the officers was injured and that both have been put on routine paid administrative leave. One officer has been on the force for 13 years and the other for five years, Parker said.
A woman who lives in the apartment complex said she called 911 early Friday after hearing the two brothers “fussing and cussing” in the courtyard.
“When I looked out the window, I saw a little guy had a long gun in his right hand, walking down the sidewalk,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of her safety. “I thought it was a military weapon. That’s why I called police.”
After police arrived, the woman said, she heard them order the man more than once to put down the long gun. Then, she said, she heard two or three shots fired.
Tyrone Moore, a resident of the apartment complex, said he understands that police are trying to protect themselves when they fire their weapons. But, he said, “they should use better judgement sometimes instead of being quick on the draw.”
The woman who called 911, however, said pellet guns look like firearms. She said that she is saddened by the young man’s death but that “if he had put down the gun, maybe he wouldn’t have died.”
Blocker’s brother was not injured and has not been charged, Parker said.
Another fatal shooting occurred in the same area of Curtis Drive last month.
On April 25, Maurice Donnell Featherson, 27, of Northeast Washington was found fatally shot outside a parking lot in the 3300 block of Curtis Drive. No arrest has been made in that shooting, and homicide detectives were in the neighborhood this week looking for witnesses and information related to the case.
Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.