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Remembering the Good Friday Sniper Attack of 1976

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 09:12 PM EDT
It was nearly 40 years ago that a well-armed teen rained down terror on a quiet city street. It was a rampage that is still vivid in the memory of a former city cop who says what he learned then may offer insight into the debate over how to prevent violence in the future.

On Good Friday in 1976, John Earl Williams called a Baltimore City Homicide Detective saying he was going to shoot police officers and that he wanted to die.

"I'd rather have someone else kill me, than kill myself," Williams told the dispatcher.

The phone call prompted former officer Stephen Tabeling to act. "You can't take anything for granted when you get information like that," Tabeling said.

On his orders, police began to swarm Lombard and Carey streets - but it didn't matter. As cops scoured West Baltimore, Williams mounted the stairs of his Lombard Street row home and started shooting.

Shortly after Williams made the call to police, a call from communications came out saying there was a shooting at Lombard and Carey.

One of the first officers to respond was 31-year-old James Holcombe, who took a fatal shot to the neck. Six officers were injured.

After almost 40 minutes of shooting, William unexpectedly called a police dispatcher and offered to give himself up. Minutes later, the 18-year-old turned deadly sniper emerged from his row home with his hands in the air.

Now, after almost 40 years Tabeling hopes something can be learned from the massacre - while guns may kill people, murder starts in the mind.

John Earl Williams was sentenced to life in prison where he remains. Lt. Tabeling is working on a book recounting the shooting with Fox45 Investigative producer Stephen Janis. Remembering the Good Friday Sniper Attack of 1976


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