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A Toledo police officer wounded in the leg in an exchange of gunfire early Saturday that left a drug felon dead is recovering at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, according to Chief Mike Navarre.
The officer, Robert Orwig, 43, an 11-year veteran of the police department, was shot in the right calf, midway between the ankle and the knee.
Dead at the scene was Samuel T. Birch, 24, of 225 Linden Place.
The incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. when four members of the SWAT team attempted to serve a felony drug warrant on Birch at the Linden Place address, in South Toledo off of Western Avenue and Broadway.
According to Chief Navarre, Officer Orwig, accompanied by Officer Neil Piasecki, went to the front door of the house with the arrest warrant. Two other officers, Richard Holland and Jeffrey Hood, went to the back of the house.
Birch came to the door and was asked by the officers “if Sammy was there,” the chief said. Birch replied there was nobody at the house by that name, then pulled out a 9 mm Ruger semiautomatic handgun and fired two rounds.
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On the second shot, Birch’s firearm jammed. The two officers returned fire, with Officer Orwig firing three times and Officer Piasecki firing eight times. Birch was struck six times. His weapon was later found to contain six more live rounds.
The slug that struck Officer Orwig passed through his lower leg, fracturing the fibula, which is the smaller bone behind the shin.
Neighbors said they heard the shots fired and that the street soon was flooded with police and fire crews.
"I was sleeping on the couch and I heard shots: 'boom. boom, boom,'" said a woman who lived across the street and did not want her name used. "To me it sounded like they were crashing in the door."
Birch's body lay on the front porch of the residence for several hours, according to neighbors.
The wounded officer was on a gurney and sitting up and talking, they said.