Baltimore officers exchange gunfire with armed man, kill him: police
Crime scene tape (Shutterstock)

Baltimore police officers fatally shot a man armed with a semi-automatic rifle who exchanged fire with them on Thursday on the city's West Side, a police spokesman said.

Four plainclothes officers on patrol heard gunfire at about 9:30 p.m. local time and responded to an apartment building where they found a man in a parking lot firing an AR-15 style weapon, said T.J. Smith, a police spokesman, during a news conference.

The unidentified man began firing at the officers. Two of the officers returned fire and struck the suspect, who later died, Smith said.

The incident comes a week after five police officers were killed during a Dallas protest by a sniper who told police during a standoff that he wanted to "kill white people" because of police killings of black people in the United States.

It was the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Whether the shooter in Baltimore was targeting police officers is unclear, according to Smith, who gave no other details about him.

"That is something that we are trying to figure out ourselves," he said. "That is certainly something that is concerning to us."

Smith said police initially thought there were more than one shooter. "Why was he firing initially, who was he firing at, that is something we don't have an answer to," he said.

After exchanging gunfire with the officers, the man fled into an apartment where he was later found with a wound to his upper chest. A weapon that appeared to be a AK-15 was found in a nearby woods, according to Smith.

The man was taken to a hospital where he died. No officers were injured in the shooting and the two officers who fired their weapons were placed on administrative duties, Smith said.

(This version of the story corrects second paragraph to read "AR-15 style", not "AK-15 style")

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Tom Heneghan)