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March 31, 2011

14-year-old arrested for beating grandmother with hammer

A 14-year-old boy has been arrested after beating his 66-year-old grandmother unconscious with a hammer after he became angry while getting ready for school, police said.

The teen was being held at Central Booking, but was not identified by police because he had not been formally charged as of late Thursday.

Police said boy called 911 after the assault at about 8:30 a.m., and officers responded to the home in the 800 block of E. 34th St. in the Waverly community, where they found the grandmother unresponsive in her bed, said Detective Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman.

She was taken to an area hospital, where she was last reported in critical condition. In an interview with detectives, the boy said he struck her multiple times after getting angry at his grandmother while getting ready for school, Monroe said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 8:41 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: North Baltimore
        

Commander gun case could turn on "loan" vs. "transfer"

A determination on whether there was criminal conduct in the case of a gun registered to a Baltimore police commander but stolen while in the possession of a Southeast Baltimore businessman may rest on whether the gun was “loaned” or transferred.”

A commenter on the Sun's message board noted the case of Todd Lin Chow v. State of Maryland. In it, the state’s highest court determined in 2006 that it is legal for a regulated handgun to be “loaned” between two individuals who are permitted to own and obtain a handgun.

While the state has strict regulations regarding the transfer of firearms, the Court of Appeals determined that “transfer” only refers to a permanent exchange of title or possession and “does not include gratuitous temporary exchanges or loans.”

The Chow case involved a DC police officer who was convicted of giving a handgun to a man, who claimed he intended to purchase it but instead decided to return it to the officer. He was caught with the gun and arrested before he could give it back, he said.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Alan M. Wilner argued that a loan was a transfer if the firearm was in someone else’s possession for anything more than a momentary period, such as testing at a range.

On Saturday, Nicolas Ramos, the politically-connected owner of the Arcos Restaurant, called police to report someone had broken into his office, rifled through draws and file cabinets, and stolen a .38-caliber revolver from a closet, according to the police report.

Ramos provided the weapon’s serial number, which traced the firearm back to Maj. Anthony Brown, a former supervisor in the Southeast District who now oversees the department’s SWAT and other units. The gun was Brown’s personal weapon.

Police have suspended Brown’s police powers pending a review and said they will refer the investigation to the state’s attorney’s office.

According to sources with knowledge of the investigation, Ramos said the gun was loaned to him but also said he’s had it for years. Police found a box of 50 rounds of ammunition, and Ramos knew the detailed serial number.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 7:38 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Armed holdup at jewelry store in Columbia Mall

Three men, one armed with a handgun, robbed a jewelry store at the Columbia Mall Wednesday afternoon, getting away with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, according to Howard County police.

Authorities are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. The robbery occurred shortly before 1 p.m. at Edward Arthur Jewelers. Police released the following descriptions:

The first suspect is described as a black male wearing a green plaid shirt and a black Vancouver Grizzlies cap with a teal brim. A second suspect is described as a black male wearing a
black and gray jacket and a black Cincinnati Reds cap with a red brim. A third suspect is described as a black male wearing a gray jacket and a white Chicago Bulls cap with a black
brim.

In September, armed men held up jewelry stores at Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore in a series of attacks. In March, two armed men robbed a jewelry store at Westfield Annapolis Mall, getting awa with more than $100,000 in watches and necklaces.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:50 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Howard County
        

City police arrest mother, son in man's killing

A woman and her son have been charged in the killing of a 46-year-old man whose body was found in an alley in the Barclay community last week, police announced Thursday.

Homicide detectives allege that Patricia Tucker and Reginald Wragg were arguing in her apartment in the 2100 block of Barclay St. when Tucker stabbed Wragg several times. Police say she then asked her son, Gavin Jenkins, to help her move the body out of the home. Wragg's body was found at about 7:30 a.m. in a rear alley in the 2100 block of Barclay St., police said last week.

Tucker, 52, is charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail. Jenkins, 22, was charged with accessory after the fact and was being held on $75,000.

Neither has a prior criminal record Tucker's prior criminal record consists of only a few trespassing and open container violations, while Jenkins does not appear to have a record in the state, according to court records. The victim, meanwhile, was arrested and charged with assault four times in 2010 and was convicted in one case, receiving five years in prison with all but four years suspended.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:19 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: East Baltimore
        

Arrests made in killing of College Park student from Bel Air

Prince George's County police have arrested two suspects in the Jan. 11 killing of a student at the University of Maryland, College Park. Justin Vance Desha-Overcash, 22, of Bel Air, was shot on 38th Avenue in the off-campus areas.

In a news release, police said the motive was robbery. But authorities have in the past said the killing was drug-related. The Washington Post is reporting police sources saying the victim was selling drugs and that detectives found scales and marijuana-laced lollipops in his home.

The victim's mother has denied her son was linked to drugs. Police identified the suspects as Stephan Weaver, 22, and Deandre Ricardo Williams, 23. Both have been charged with first-degree murder.

More details:

PGPD Announces Arrests in the Homicide of a University of Maryland Student

Prince George’s County, Maryland…The Prince George’s County Police Department’s Homicide Unit has arrested 22 year-old Stephan Weaver and 23 year-old Deandre Ricardo Williams in the homicide of 22 year-old Justin Vance Desha-Overcash that occurred in College Park, Maryland.

On January 11, 2011 at approximately 11:27 a.m., patrol officers responded to the 8800 block of 38th Avenue for a report of a shooting.  When officers arrived, they discovered Desha-Overcash, of the 8800 block of 38th Avenue in College Park, suffering from gunshot wounds.  He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

During the course of the investigation, Detectives identified Weaver, of the 2600 block of Kinderbrook Lane, Bowie, and Williams, of the 5800 block of Field Place, N.E. in Washington, D.C., as suspects in the case.  Detectives have determined the motive to be robbery.  Both suspects have been charged with First-Degree Murder.  Weaver has been remanded to the Department of Corrections in Upper Marlboro, Maryland on a no bond status.  Williams was arrested in Washington, D.C. with the assistance of the Metropolitan Police Department and is currently awaiting extradition.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Homicide Unit at (301) 772-4925.  Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411 TIPS (8477) or text “PGPD plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) on your cell phone or submit a tip online.  There is a $25,000 reward being offered for any information in this case.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:47 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, Crime elsewhere, Harford County
        

Man shot in Pigtown dies

A man shot in a shopping center parking lot Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore's Pigtown neighborhood died from his injuries, city police said this morning.

Officers found Murrell Alfred Hearns Jr., 31, in front of a restaurant in the parking lot in the 700 block of Washington Blvd. with gunshot wounds to the back of the head and a leg.

A police spokesman had said Wednesday that Hearns and two others had gotten into an altercation, and the violence did "not appear that it was a random attack."
Hearns was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to police.

Before police had released the man's name and condition, Sun reporter Justin Fenton received an email from a man who said he formerly was an employer of Hearn:

I was just called by two ex employees indicating it was a third of mine. Mild mannered gentleman. Preachers kid. Nice guy. Always smiling. Another sad day for Baltimore. Another family loses their son and their father. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:32 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Southwest Baltimore
        

March 30, 2011

Gun stolen from businessman was registered to police commander

A handgun reported stolen from a politically-connected Southeast Baltimore businessman was registered to a top Baltimore police commander, and police are investigating how the business owner came into possession of the weapon, The Sun has learned.

On March 26, Nicolas Ramos, owner of Arcos Restaurant on South Broadway, called police to report that someone had rifled through his office and taken a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver from a storage case in a closet, according to a copy of the police report.

Two sources say that when police traced the serial number provided by Ramos, the gun came up registered to Maj. Anthony Brown, a former Southeast District supervisor who now oversees the department's Special Operations Section, which includes the SWAT team.

The gun had not been reported missing or stolen from the officer, the sources said, and Ramos said he had had it for years.

A police spokesman confirmed that Brown was administratively suspended late Wednesday afternoon, pending the outcome of the investigation.

"We're going to have the state's attorney's office take a look at the case," said Anthony Guglielmi, the department's chief spokesman.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 7:54 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: City Hall, Southeast Baltimore, Top brass
        

Man critically wounded in Pigtown shooting


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Police are the scene of a serious shooting in a business parking lot in the 700 block of Washington Blvd., in Pigtown and not far from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said a 31-year-old man was in the parking lot of a dollar store when two suspects got into an altercation with him that escalated to a shooting. The victim was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma with “extremely serious injuries,” Guglielmi said.

“It does not appear that it was a random attack of a store customer,” Guglielmi said.

He said the suspects fled in an SUV and police were checking security camera in the area.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:30 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: South Baltimore
        

Mayor's budget: public safety

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's proposed operating budget, which The Sun reported today would increase spending by 1 percent, includes level funding for police and public safety, and allows the city to follow through with a plan to fill police vacancies, fund crime cameras, and fund youth violence prevention programs, officials say.

Here's the breakdown, based on budget documents:

Police Department
What they get: $355,847,340
What they wanted: $363,374,155
What they got last year: $352,998,347
Notes: The patrol division will see a decrease from $179 million to $176.9 million, while criminal investigations sees a bump from $34.9 million to $37 million (more than the agency sought) and homeland security/intelligence jumps from $12.3 million to $13.1 million. Internal affairs and the 911 center see a modest increase, while the marine unit is slashed from $2.6 million to $1 million and police recruiting and the crime lab are reduced.

State's Attorney's Office
What they get: $31,191,930
What they wanted: $32,808,841
What they got last year: $32,003,288
Notes: Victim and Witness services are increased from $998,897 to $1.16 million, and the administration budget is cut from $3.4 million to $3 million. "Prosecution of criminals" goes up from $22.7 million to $27 million. Pretrial services spending, budgeted at $3.5 million, is slashed entirely, with no reason given in supporting documents.

Fire Department
What they get: $165,689,862
What they wanted: $168,171,491
What they got last year: $163,208,352
Notes: Every area of the fire department budget appears to increase slightly, "for current service levels to be maintained." The Sun's City Hall reporter Julie Scharper says three fire houses would be closed each day, up from the current two closed each day.

Mayor's Office on Criminal Justice
What they get: $12,521,194
What they wanted: $12,385,487
What they got last year: $12,347,358
Notes: Funding is increased to generate additional grant support for public safety initiatives.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:19 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: City Hall, Courts and the justice system, Top brass
        

Baltimore Guide police blotter - March 30

Some samplings from the Baltimore Guide's weekly police blotter, which you can find each week here for South Baltimore and here for Southeast Baltimore:

1200 block Light St., Sunday, March 20, 3 a.m.: Someone broke the door lock on a bar, entered, and stole beer.

1600 block W. Pratt St., Sunday, March 27, 11:56 p.m.: A man told police that he was in his car when people began beating on the car with bats and rocks. The man crashed his car trying to escape, and one of the suspects pulled him out of the car and stole money from his pants pockets.

N. Patterson Park Avenue, 100 block, March 23, 7 p.m. A hair salon owner told police that three teens had broken into her workplace, pointed a gun at herself and customers and demanded money. They fled with cash, phones and a handbag.

S. Broadway, 200 block, March 25, 2:47 p.m. Police responded to a report of a stabbing, and found a man bleeding from a cut to the arm. He told police he worked for the property manager of an apartment complex, and that he had been told a resident was defecating and urinating into a bucket, then taking it to the shared bathroom. The man told police he went to talk about the resident about this issue, and the resident pulled a knife on him and attacked him. He was arrested.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:51 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Best of the Blotter, South Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore
        

Police identify Remington stabbing victim; Coppin student

Police have identified the 18-year-old woman found fatally stabbed Tuesday afternoon in her home in North Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood.

Jhoma Blackwell was discovered at about 4:30 p.m. by relatives, and police say the nursing student at Coppin State University had been stabbed multiple times.

Detective Jeremy Silbert, a city police spokesman, said investigators “believe that this is not a random act of violence.” Neighbors told television stations that they had heard fighting earlier.

A police officer was seen carrying a small child out of the home, and handing her to who onlookers said was a relative.

The photo is taken from her Myspace page.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: North Baltimore
        

Class ring leads to burglary suspect

A Maryland State Police trooper tracked down the owner of a 1970 Damascus High School ring being pawned in North Carolina, an investigating that led to the arrest of a man charged with burglaries in several counties and a neighboring state.

Edward A. Morton, 57, of Garrett County, was arrested this week after a two-month investigation that began when a trooper at the McHenry Barrack learned that the suspect was receiving checks totaling more than $10,000 from pawn shops in Maryland, Washington, New York and North Carolina. Police said:

In early March, State Police investigators learned a pawn shop in Charlotte, North Carolina had received a package of jewelry from Morton. The pawn shop owner gave troopers a description of the items, including a 1970 Damascus High School ring.  

With just the graduation year and the initials inside the ring, a State Police investigator called Damascus High School and then made multiple calls to members of the 1970 graduating class.  Within days, he had identified the owner of the ring as a woman who lives in Frederick.  He contacted her and she confirmed the ring had been stolen along with other items during a recent burglary at her home.
Earlier this month, another class ring helped police in Howard County bust a husband-wife team suspected in a series of burglaries.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Crime elsewhere
        

March 29, 2011

The Nine Lives of Gregory Davenport

Gregory Davenport, who was killed Tuesday morning in Harlem Park, sports an extraordinary record of being charged with murder and attempted murder without a conviction, according to court records. Since 2001, he was charged in such cases five different times, and in the past decade faced serious criminal charges a total of nine times. In each instance, the charges were dropped or he received a light sentence.

Clarification: It's important to stress that Davenport was never convicted of the violent charges he faced. But in trying to understand why he was killed, the notion that five different families, friends, and associates all were told by police and prosecutors that he was a killer raises the possibility that the crime was retribution. Police often say that revenge killings don't necessarily happen the same day or the same week, but play out over the course of years. We haven't heard anything more on this case from police, but they're investigating it and trying to track down who did it, regardless of what Mr. Davenport may or may not have done in his life. We'll update the case if there's an arrest.

1. In December 2010, Davenport is charged with handgun possession. He is held without bond until January, when the charges are dropped.

2. In November 2009, Davenport is indicted on first-degree murder charges. The charges stemmed from a home invasion in Glen Arm, in which 35-year-old Lamont Blackstone, along with his family, were held up and robbed. Baltimore County prosecutors said they did not have sufficient evidence to pursue the charges against Davenport, which were dropped.

3. In May 2007, Davenport is indicted on first-degree murder charges. The Sun reported at the time that he was charged in the murder of Dewitt Smith in the 1600 block of Rosedale St. on April 27.

4. In March 2005, Davenport is indicted on handgun charges stemming from November 2004. He was found not guilty.

5. In March 2005, Davenport is indicted on attempted first-degree murder charges. The Sun reported at the time that he was charged in the shooting of Jeremiah Waddy in the 3200 block of Westmont Ave. The charges were placed on the inactive docket and dropped.

6. In September 2004, Davenport is charged with drug distribution. He pleaded guilty and received eight years in prison, with all but four years suspended. The sentence, handed down in April 2006, is backdated to November 2004, effectively meaning he had already served half his sentence, or about all the time an individual with a drug conviction can expect to serve.

7. In October 2003, he is charged with drug charges and pleads guilty, receiving probation before judgment. 

8. In February 2002, Davenport is indicted on attempted first-degree murder, assault, robbery and handgun charges. The charges were all dropped by prosecutors.

9. In May 2001, Davenport is indicted on attempted first degree murder charges. The charges were all dropped by prosecutors.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 7:54 PM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Courts and the justice system
        

Woman fatally stabbed, man dies in morning shooting

Painted along the top of a door frame of a defunct church in North Baltimore’s Remington community are the words “When I see the blood…” It’s the beginning of a Biblical quotation that ends, “The plague of death will not touch you.”

Neighbors stood in front of that building Tuesday afternoon looking upon a crime scene where police say the body of a woman who had been fatally stabbed was discovered by her relatives. The killing was one of at least two investigated by police yesterday.

“This is just terrible,” said Dianne Fisher, 46, of the people gathered near the crime scene. “That girl didn’t bother no one.”

Detective Jeremy Silbert, a police spokesman, said the woman was found at about 4:30 p.m. in her home in the 2600 block of Huntingdon Ave. At the scene, an officer carried a young girl out of the home and handed her off to a relative. Few other details were available.

Homicide detectives had earlier been dispatched to two shootings. The first came out at 8:30 a.m., in the 1000 block of Edmondson Ave. in the Harlem Park neighborhood. Police said Gregory Davenport, 27, who lived in the block, was killed, but did not have further information about the circumstances.

Davenport was arrested in December on multiple handgun charges, held on no bail, and released in late January when the charges were dropped by prosecutors.

Since 2005, he had been acquitted of first-degree murder charges in connection with a Baltimore County home invasion in 2009, with prosecutors citing insufficient evidence; was charged with first-degree murder in Baltimore in 2008 until that case was dropped; and had attempted first-degree murder and handgun charges dropped in the city in 2006.

Police were also investigating the afternoon shooting of a man in the parking lot of a Northeast Baltimore shopping center. Around 2:30 p.m., police said officers were called to the 5400 block of Sinclair Road, at the Frankford Gardens Shopping Center, where they found a man suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

He was taken to a local hospital, where his condition was unknown, police said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 7:11 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: North Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore, West Baltimore
        

County union chief charged with assault

The president of the Baltimore County police union and a 27-year veteran with the department was charged on Tuesday with hitting and pointing his gun at a sedan service driver during a dispute in Parkville.

Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly said Sgt. Cole B. Weston was issued summonses charging him with misdemeanor counts of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. The citations order him to appear in Baltimore County Circuit Court for a hearing at a date to be determined; he was not arrested.

Baltimore County police spokesman Lt. Robert McCullough said that Weston’s police powers have been suspended and he has been placed in an administrative duties pending the outcome of the criminal case and a separate Internal Affairs investigation.

For more details:

The labor organization that Weston heads endorsed Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger for re-election, and the top prosecutor asked the case be handled by prosectors in Harford County to avoid a conflict of interest.

The alleged incident occurred March 23 when Hosseim Taranpisheh, 51, told police that Weston approached and berated him as he waited for a customer to pay him for a ride on Dendron Court. Weston lives nearby and is head of his neighborhood watch group.

A police report says that Weston asked the driver what he was doing at the address and “then began to curse at him and accuse him of being a drug dealer.” Taranpisheh told police that Weston banged on the roof of the car and then reached inside and hit him on the ride side of the face.

“Weston then stepped back and pulled a handgun from his waist band and pointed it at [Taranpisheh’s] face, saying, ‘You sit in the car. I’m a police officer,” the report says.

The sergeant told responding police officers the car was suspicious and there had been drug dealing in the area. He said that when he asked Taranpisheh why he was there, he “began to argue with him and became belligerent.”

Weston told the officers, according to the report, that he “feared for his safety because of the recent problems in the area, and thought he was possibly going to be assaulted.” The sergeant also told officers that he pulled his gun, but kept it by his side and did not point it at anyone.

Fraternal Order of Police officials said the charges will not affect his status in the labor organization.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

Sex offender pleads guilty in Salisbury girl's death

The Salisbury Daily Times is reporting that convicted sex offender Thomas Leggs has pleaded guilty to killing 11-year-old Sarah Foxwell in late 2009. The girl's disappearance set off a massive search, and the killing spurred new legislation in the General Assembly. The plea spares Leggs the death penalty:

Leggs, 31, was sentenced in Cecil County Circuit Court to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of the 11-year-old Salisbury girl. He also pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sex offense charges.

Leggs addressed the family in the hearing today, and said he was surprised they had agreed to allow the removal of the death penalty option.

Sarah Foxwell's aunt, who was caring for Foxwell at the time of her kidnapping and murder, gave emotional testimony at today's hearing. Prosecutors also read statements from other members of Foxwell's family.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:32 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Crime elsewhere
        

Snoop's attorney says he's bowing out of proceedings

UPDATE, 2:55 p.m.: How quickly things change: Gardner now says that he plans to withdraw as Pearson's attorney. The Sun spoke with Salaam Id-deen, a friend and music collaborator with Pearson, who is upset with Gardner's handling of the case - specifically referencing the YouTube video - and says he is out as Pearson's attorney. Reached for comment, Gardner confirmed that he plans to bow out, but said that it was because he was fed up with dealing with the actress' camp. Id-deen, meanwhile, claims Pearson has reached a plea deal with prosecutors and that her release was imminent, but Gardner said prosecutors have not budged on their position that she be held without bond, let alone released on lesser charges. Gardner said he would remain on the case until the actress has secured new representation.

UPDATE 2, 4:20 p.m. Criminal defense attorney Benjamin Sutley confirms that he will be representing Pearson in future criminal proceedings. While Gardner has been pushing to get her bail reduced, Sutley says that seems unlikely. Pearson will likely celebrate her 31st birthday behind bars. "It would have to be new information taht wasn't considered at the first hearing, and there's nothing really substantial to bring up," Sutley said. "We're just focused on the merits of the case."

ORIGINAL POST: The attorney for jailed "Wire" actress Felicia "Snoop" Pearson said the charges against her are some of the "easiest" prosecutors can bring in a drug case, and defended a video posted to YouTube encouraging fans to send her letters at the city detention center.

In an interview with The Sun's Kevin Richardson on Monday evening, attorney Paul Gardner said Pearson "wants to make sure her fans know that she did not do anything. She's not selling drugs, she's not aiding and abetting, she's not engaging in any conspiracy to possess or sell drugs."

"The allegation is that she's on the phone talking about money," Gardner said. "That's something 99 percent of Americans are engaged in today. It can be construed any way ... That's one of the easiest things a prosecutor can allege in ensnaring a group of people."

Last week, Gardner, who is trying to get Pearson's no-bail status revised, released a "Free Snoop" video with shout-outs from rappers in town for a concert. The video, which has 3,000 views, also drew a few negative comments. One person said it was "blatant self-promotion" for Gardner.

For his part, Gardner says he first discussed the video with Pearson, who endorsed putting it on YouTube. "I'm trying to lift her spirits and give her encouragement. I wish more attorneys would do stuff like that."

[Side note: Is that Snoop tweeting from jail?]

The actress is alleged to have provided money to a heroin organization, and was taken into custody among dozens of people locked up earlier this month as part of a DEA/Baltimore police investigation. She's facing state charges.

Gardner, a corporate entertainment lawyer, has handled few criminal cases in recent years, according to court records. Pearson's is the first he has taken since May 2010, and he says Pearson's New York management sent an attorney to meet with her. Is Gardner in danger of losing his client?

"I welcome anybody to come and help out," he said. "I'm not territorial. At the end of the day, Snoop is the one that needs help. I'm here in my office, I get to go home. I can have escargot. ... I can grab a milkshake. It's Snoop's life and liberty that's at stake."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:16 PM | | Comments (8)
        

Tragedies inspire 11-year-old city boxer

[Photo by Sun photographer Karl Merton Ferron]

While Lorenzo Simpson's classmates at City Springs Elementary/Middle were taking the Maryland School Assessments this month, the fifth-grader was 1,000 miles away facing his own series of tests — in the boxing ring, reports The Sun's Erica L. Green.

Lorenzo won his title just three days before his 11th birthday and less than a week after his friend and role model became the 29th homicide victim in Baltimore City this year. On March 6, Ronald T. Gibbs, a promising amateur boxer, was stabbed to death after the teen attempted to intervene in a fight involving his sister, police said.

Lorenzo trained with the 17-year-old boxer, also known as "Rock," at the Upton Boxing Center on Pennsylvania Avenue. According to Lorenzo, it was the memory of his gym mate that helped him maintain his flawless two-year, 21-0 record.

"I knew I was going to win for Rock," Lorenzo said of the championship, which he won March 12. "I saw him win the Silver Gloves before, so I wanted to do it for him. I knew everyone was depending on me."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:17 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore
        

Man fatally shot in Randallstown

Just hours after Baltimore County police announced that homicides had dropped more than 35 percent in 2010, compared to 2009, police were on Winelee Road in Randallstown investigating the latest slaying.

It occurred about 11:45 p.m. on Monday. Few details were released but we expect more information later in the day.

The county reported 20 slayings in 2010, down from 31 the previous year. There have been five thus far this year, not including Monday nights. That's roughly the same pace as in 2010.  

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

Baltimore County police and too slow news

I'm always reluctant to write Crime Scene columns like I did on Sunday, criticizing Baltimore County police for lagging days, even  weeks posting crime news to their website. It comes off as an angry reporter whining and demanding special treatment. That's certainly the sentiments on some of the comments from readers:

Please let the police do their job and stop whining. I am sure you would like them to announce the local theft at 7-11 too. It is impossible to announce every crime. They do get to decide what crimes should be public while an investigation is going on. ... Why don't you mind the scanner a little more and stop whining about what is spoon fed to you.

Obvious case of the baby not getting his bottle when he wants it. Don't try to make this out that the county police are endangering the lives of residents by not telling the paper about every crime as it happens.

One of the few notes of praise I got came from none other than a Baltimore County police officer who distributes a weekly crime report in the Towson area. It's just the sort of compilation of crime citizens need and want, and I wish it could be repeated throughout the county and in other jurisdictions:

Mr Hermann, read your article in Sunday's edition of the "Baltimore Sun" and I appreciate the favorable words you used on my behalf. Thank you, reading those words or hearing from community members who like receiving that weekly report reinforce in me the need to send out that report every week.
Thanks, Sgt Stephen Fink

So let me try and explain again:

I tried hard to differentiate between news we get at the paper and news delivered to the public. I tried to limit the criticism to what the county posts on its public website. Some killings were not posted for months; other crimes weeks weeks old and only were posted when police wanted help.

My argument was that people need to know about crime when it happens. Some of the crime the media knew about and reported, but the county cops still didn't add it to their official list. I find that deceiving and irresponsible. Check out the county's iWatch website and tell me if you feel adequately informed.

It is a public safety issue. I agree it can be a tough call when and how to divulge certain crime information. But homeowners want to know when a string of burglaries has occurred in their neighborhood. Police may want to hold back on the information to find the suspect, but at some point they have an obligation to let people know. We run into that frequently with suspected rapists -- citizens need to know to keep safe.

My last point before I let the readers have at, and have at me, is that I get emails and calls constantly from people who saw the police helicopter hover the night before, or saw a bunch of police cars race by their house, and they turn to the morning paper and wonder why there's nothing in there about it. These are some of the same people who say I'm whining when police don't bother to tell the public about crimes as serious as murder. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:39 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news
        

March 28, 2011

Canton rapist gets 40 years for two attacks

Donald Doc Vaughan, 20, pleaded guilty Monday to two rapes that occurred in Canton, including one in which he slit the victim's throat after she paid him for shoveling snow in front of her house. For the crimes, he received life in prison with all but 40 years suspended, according to the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office.

Vaughan had returned to Baltimore after a few months living in tiny Kilmarnock, Va., where he was under surveillance as a suspect in two rapes. The Baltimore Sun reported that a Maryland judge let Vaughan move to Virginia, where local authorities assumed responsibility for Vaughan's juvenile supervision under interstate agreements. But they did not notify Maryland officials that Vaughan was returning for the holidays or that he was a rape suspect.

Charges are pending in Virginia, where the police chief said he hadn't investigated a rape in 24 years on the job until Vaughan came to town. Police say he's confessed to the attacks.

"It was the biggest thing ever," Kilmarnock town manager Tom Saunders told The Sun's Larry Carson about the uproar locally over the rapes.

"It's far and away the worst," Saunders added. "It was just very traumatic. There's a lot of widows in town."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, Southeast Baltimore
        

Stabbing victim remembered


Driving back from an interview in Northeast Baltimore, I noticed a memorial for slaying victim Mary Williams and decided to pull over and snap some pictures.

The memorial is at the spot in the 2000 block of E. Oliver St. where police say Williams, 48, was fatally stabbed during an argument by boyfriend Shakarian Frazier, 31. Court records show there was a long history of domestic violence, though they never sought intervention from police and the court system. Williams struggled with drugs, while her daughter said Frazier had grown increasingly violent towards her since returning home from a jail term for a gun charge. Frazier's trial on murder charges is pending in Circuit Court.

Click to enlarge:

 

MW1.jpg

MW2.jpg

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore
        

Update on search for Phylicia Barnes

Related: The Washington Post wrote about Phylicia's disappearance last week.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:53 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Teen killed in NE double shooting

Police have identified the 17-year-old who was fatally shot Sunday night while sitting in a car in Northeast Baltimore's Four-by-Four neighborhood as Steven Oglesby, seen here at left in a picture provided by his family and at right from his own collection on Facebook.

Oglesby and another 17-year-old were sitting in a vehicle in the 3200 block of Elmley Ave at about 8:20 p.m. when someone opened fire on the vehicle. The other victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Police have not released a motive or announced any arrests in the case.

Anyone with information was asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100, where they can remain anonymous.

Friends were leaving "R.I.P." messages on Oglesby's Facebook page, where I pulled this picture seen at right from among his "profile" pictures. He listed his school there as Patterson High School. At left is a photo that his family asked be posted.

It's the first fatal shooting this year in the notoriously violent Four-by-Four neighborhood, which is grimly surrounded by cemeteries. Last fall, the ATF led at least 150 law enforcement officers on raids in the neighborhood after a grand jury indicted 10 individuals on drug distribution charges. Here's what we wrote about that indictment at the time, based on court documents:

Forrester, who they say is known as “Little D,” “Muffler,” and “Chicken,” was captured on an intercepted telephone call talking about how he was hiding on an unlit porch and waiting to shoot someone if they walked around a corner.

“If he comes around the corner, I’m gonna take his top off,” Forrester said, according to the agent.

In state court, Forrester has received suspended sentences for drug dealing and assault. Federal prosecutors thanked city police and prosecutors, with State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy saying the case “demonstrates the strength of our local, state and federal partnership and coordination.”

Prosecutors say members of his operation sold drugs and stored weapons near the homes of conspirators and their family members in the 3200 block of Lyndale Avenue, and stored drugs and guns in and around the homes.

In a cell recorded last month, he was recorded discussing how drug sales were “booming” in the area. “It’s boomin’, and you ain’t even out here,” he told Shaun Hopkins, asking why he wasn’t taking advantage of the large number of drug buyers in the area.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:20 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Northeast Baltimore
        

Update on body found in Hampden

Police said today that there were no obvious signs of trauma or foul play when a man was found dead in a wooded area near The Avenue in Hampden Sunday morning. Officers were called to the 3500 block of Poole St. at about 10 a.m. for a "sick call" and found the man's body. He was pronounced dead at 10:25 a.m. An autopsy is pending, but police believe the death may be drug-related. The investigation is continuing. 
Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:50 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: North Baltimore
        

March 27, 2011

Crowd-sourcing crime

 

[Photo credit Edouard Mutabazi]

UPDATE: Police retrieved the incident report for me this afternoon, which says that police proactively detailed an officer to the hotel due to the large number of attendees - some 900 people, the officer estimated. A fight broke out in the hotel lobby among a group of females. The fight was broken up, but one person, 19-year-old April Moore, refused to leave and was arrested.

On weekends, Baltimore Police no longer pay a spokesperson to be on call, and those manning the phones in the districts or specialized units are prohibited from giving us information. What we get are Twitter updates on major events such as shootings, serious stabbings and the like, and the public affairs office provides thrice-daily e-mails with the information available to them at that time.

So what to do when something happens over the weekend that isn't a major incident, but has residents asking around for information on what happened? Thanks to social media, we can crowdsource it. 

On Sunday morning, Stephen Brockelman, who on Twitter goes by @Baltimore21201, asked me about what seemed like a major police response at the downtown Sheraton. I put the question to my followers, and got a quick response: Another user said there had been a "Legends Ball" party at the Sheraton - party flier here - and apparently things got a bit out of hand.

Someone else, @EdouardMutabazi, had taken pictures of the police response to go along with Brockelman's video and his insights on past troubles in the area. By working together, we figured out what the disturbance was about, got images of the scene, and it's available for others who were seeking information. We're just scratching the surface of this social media thing, folks.Tomorrow, I'll ask police for a rundown of what specifically drew such a big response and how many people were taken into custody. 

Meanwhile, here's Brockelman's take and a video he shot from his apartment:

With all of the good work that Baltimore's Downtown Partnership is doing to support and rebuild our inner city, with all of the effort that the Historic Charles Street Association is contributing, with all of the money and good will and renovation that Southen Manangement's David Hillman gives to Baltimore 21201, this was another sad moment.
Baltimore has a new season for the O's coming soon. If you arrived in our city with your family for an event at a stadium, the arena, for any other event, would you come back if you couldn't get back to your hotel?
Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:05 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Downtown
        

Baltimore police investigating "questionable death" in Hampden

City police say they are investigating a "questionable death" after a man was found at the intersection of West 36th Street at Falls Road in Hampden. There's few details right now, but police say the call came out at about 10:15 a.m. for an "unresponsive person." Police spokesman Kevin Brown says the body was found outdoors, in a park area near the intersection. Homicide detectives are investigating, as they do with all questionable deaths. 

We'll post more details here as they become available. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:33 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: North Baltimore
        

March 26, 2011

County cops announce arrests in undisclosed cases

Baltimore County police on Friday issued several news releases on previously undisclosed cases, including a shooting on York Road in 2009 in which the man's body was dumped along I-270 in Gaithersburg. It took police until November to determine where the shooting had taken place an until February to charge a suspect.

Several of these cases had been reported by the media, but not disclosed by county police on their iWatch web site. The delay in reporting these incidents to the public is the subject of my Crime Scenes column today.

The county launched a new iWatch website (read about these cases) in February but it rarely is updated with breaking news. Instead, the site asks the public for help on weeks and even months old cases that had not been previously disclosed. That includes some homicides:

Baltimore County police made back-to-back announcements on Friday: detectives made arrests in a killing in Essex and in a fatal shooting of a man whose body was found along a highway on-ramp in Gaithersburg.

It’s news you’d expect to hear from your police department.

But these announcements were “news” only because you may be hearing about the shootings for the very first time.

The shooting in Essex occurred Jan. 8 and police arrested a suspect Feb. 25. The shooting of the man found in Gaithersburg occurred on York Road Feb. 5, 2009, and police charged a suspect on Feb. 4 of this year.

Friday’s statements were the first public acknowledgments by the county police department that the killings, and the arrests, had occurred at all. And they were issued a day after I asked police why these crimes had not been disclosed when they occurred.

People who turned to iWatch last week were treated not to a statement or updates on the most recent killing in Lansdowne, but to a plea for help in locating a gunman wanted for robbing, hitting and shooting at a man outside a Bally’s health club in White Marsh.

No doubt the holdup is news, and scary for club members, who might want to take extra precautions. They might even have seen something, and want to call or email a tip to a 24-hour hot-line. But “news” of the holdup wasn’t really news at all: It occurred more than a month ago, on Feb. 15.

People who went to iWatch on Feb. 15 were not informed of the robbery in White Marsh, but instead learned for the first time about a stabbing that occurred three days earlier, a fatal hit-and-run that happened two days prior, and a man who had gone missing in October.

On Friday, police asked for help identifying four people who severely beat a man after a traffic stop on Baltimore National Pike. The beating occurred on Feb. 7. On March 14, police asked for help solving a carjacking that occurred Feb. 16. They wanted help on March 11 in finding a gunman who robbed a gas station on Feb. 18. On March 8, they wanted help finding a mother who abducted her two children on March 1.

How about first telling the public a crime has occurred, and then asking them for help?

If iWatch is being billed as a way to keep people informed, it’s not too much to expect that the online crime log be a complete listing of the major crimes that occur.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:51 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

City workers arrested in gambling probe have extensive records

Many city transportation workers arrested on Friday and charged with gambling and drinking while on the clock have extensive criminal records. Just how they got hired or whether background checks were done will have to be determined after the weekend is over.

A review of electronic court records shows that six of the employees have been convicted of serious criminal offenses, and one person is on probation in a gun possession case. Six workers have clean records, and a seventh has been arrested twice on assault charges but not convicted.

Three workers have extensive records, including one who has been convicted seven times between 1995 and 2009 on drug possession or drug distribution charges. He has served prison or jail time ranging from one day to four years, the records show.

Another worker has been convicted six times of drug offenses and twice of possessing a handgun, all between 2002 and 2009, according to the records. That worker served between two years and four years in prison. Yet another employee has been convicted five times of drug offenses between 1997 and 2004, serving between one year and five years in prison.

One employee has one conviction and was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2001 for drug distribution.
Meanwhile, city officials say the bust at a transportation office on East Madison Street demonstrates how Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is targeting suspected corruption. Police said the workers were caught playing dice and drinking Remy champagne.

Rawlings-Blake hired hired the current inspector general about a month after she was sworn in early 2011. The previous inspector general resigned amid criticism for not being aggressive and targeting cases that went nowhere..
 
The mayor's spokesman, Ryan O'Doherty, said today that "the new IG has hit the ground running posting reports on numerous investigations. About 6 months ago, the Mayor approved some additional funding for equipment for his office to help with investigations."

Read recent reports from the Inspector General's Office.

In her state of the city address, Rawlings-Blake said: "Finally, we will continue our strident efforts to eliminate and publicly expose fraud, waste, and abuse in City Government. Many of you have read the investigation reports posted online by our new Inspector General -- he's been busy. We will continue to strengthen our efforts to go after "bad apple" employees and contractors who are giving the overwhelming majority of dedicated workers and reliable contractors a bad name. We will hire an additional auditor in the Inspector General's Office, and we will create a new, innovative rewards program that incentivizes reporting of fraud and abuse."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:35 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore, Top brass
        

Charges filed in South Baltimore stand-off

A 20-year-old man has been charged with handgun possession and false imprisonment in connection with Friday's stand-off in Cherry Hill in which police said a woman was held against her will by her boyfriend.

The 31-year-old victim was released after a few hours, when the suspect, Deonte Walker (mugshot at left), surrendered to police outside the house in the 2700 block of Berea Road.

Police said in a report released today that Walker pointed a .40 caliber Springfield Armory handgun at the girlfriend.

A city school school was put in lock-down during the morning barricade.

The report says the suspect and his girlfriend had argued about him getting a job, and that during the stand-off the suspect stacked boxes against the front door to block police from entering.

 

 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: South Baltimore
        

Victim of Barclay Street stabbing identified

Homicide detectives have identified the man found stabbed to death in an East Baltimore alley on Friday as 46-year-old Reginald Leon Wragg, whose last known address was on the westside, police said today.

Wragg was found shortly before 7:30 a.m. on Friday in the 2100 block of Barclay St. Police said he had suffered multiple stab wounds and lacerations to his body and neck. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Police said Wragg last lived in the 1400 block of Mosher St. in West Baltimore. He has an extensive arrest record; he was convicted of second-degree assault last year and sentenced to a year in jail.

Wragg’s body was found just blocks from a vacant rowhouse where another man was found stabbed to death on Tuesday. Andre Drummond, 48, was found with stab wounds in the 500 block of east North Ave. Police have not said if there is a connection to Friday killing.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore
        

City workers caught gambling, drinking on duty

Baltimore authorities on Friday broke up what they described as a regular “payday” gambling game involving more than a dozen city transportation workers who police said were arrested after being caught drinking champagne and playing dice in a city office.

The roundup occurred in a Department of Transportation building on East Madison Street and was sparked by a tip to city officials, who contacted the Inspector General, which investigates corruption, fraud and waste in city offices.

Agents from the inspector’s office went unannounced to the building Friday afternoon and then called police when it became apparent there was criminal activity. A city police spokesman said several workers scattered when agents arrived and one was charged with assaulting an investigator.

“Although these are not violent crimes, it’s particularly egregious because it’s a violation of the public trust,” said the Baltimore Police Department’s chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi. “These are city employees who are paid by the taxpayers and they are expected to work. They shouldn’t be gambling and drinking on the city’s dime.”

More information and a list of employees arrested:

The 13 workers involved were described as relatively low-level employees assigned to the transportation department’s Special Events unit. Their duties include setting up and working at area festivals. They were all handcuffed and taken to the Central Booking and Intake Center.

Police said they charged each with misdemeanor gambling offenses and most were released on low bails or were still being processed on Saturday. One worker, Michael Flowers, 68, was also charged with one count of assault.

Guglielmi said that the tipster had recently notified the Inspector General’s Office that workers were gambling on each Friday, which is payday. The office sent agents to investigate and “sure enough there was a gambling operation,” the spokesman said.

Authorities said that the agents “observed several employees on duty throwing dice and consuming alcohol.” They said the agents found a bottle of Remy champagne and case in the middle of the office floor. They said $6,300 was seized.

The agents with the inspector’s office do not have arrest powers. Guglielmi said “a couple employees became unruly and a couple ran in different directions.” The agents called city police and officers from the Eastern District responded.

Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for the city transportation department, would not say whether workers have been suspected, but she did say that “they will not be responding to work on Monday.” In a statement, she said that “any activity that undermines the integrity of the transportation  department will not be tolerated.”

Both Barnes and Guglielmi said this case demonstrates the city’s ability “to policing itself.”

Here is a list of the workers arrested, as provided by Baltimore police. All were charged with gambling offenses. Flowers was also charged with one count of assault:

Michael Flowers 7/2/68
Kevin Shellington 9/12/64 
Carlton Baskerville 4/4/65
Frank Trauntan 7/6/62
Franklin Fisher 5/18/76
Sean McGilbeary 4/30/77
Allen Hack 2/15/82
Gary Mackey 6/3/62
David Decarlo 7/25/60
Yusef Shaw 12/1/80
Dedric Benson 12/1/75
Christopher Hawkins 8/14/79
Frank Troutman 7/6/62

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:19 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: East Baltimore
        

Home invasion suspect sentenced

A 53-year-old woman will spend 30 years in prison for participating in a home invasion robbery in December 2009 that left a Northeast Baltimore homeowner dead, the city State’s Attorney’s Office announced on Friday.

Bonnie Lee Lizor had pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge and was sentenced this week. Her accomplice, Austin Lassiter, 28, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Police said the two suspects broke into a house in the 4700 block of Glenarm Ave., the same block on which Lizor lived at the time.

A friend of the victim’s who was walking by heard “unusual noises” from the house and went inside, prosecutors said. Police said that the friend took out a 9mm handgun he had been carrying and detained Lizor until officers arrived. The other suspect escaped but was arrested a short time later.

Authorities said they found 64-year-old David Monath tied up and unresponsive. Prosecutors said the victim had been beaten and then suffered a heart attack during the break-in. Lizor told police that she and her friend knew that Monath was “known to possess valuable items.”

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, Northeast Baltimore
        

Title company owner sentenced in mortgage fraud case

The owner of a Towson title agency was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for defrauding lenders out of $3.9 million in eight months, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Anthony V. Weis, 45, pleaded guilty to charges of mail and wire fraud and was ordered to report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to begin his sentence on May 17. The president of Maple Leaf Title also was ordered to pay $4 million in restitution to 13 victims and their insurance companies.

One of the victims, Suzanne Hall, recounted last summer how her Cockeysville house went into foreclosure when she tried to refinance her adjustable-rate mortgage through Maple Leaf, which took her money but failed to pay off her old loan.

“The one thing I really learned in all this was that the title company holds the reins on all your money,” Hal said in an interview in June, the day Weis was indicted on the fraud charges. “I realized in all this that my money was exposed by one man controlling the company.”

Federal authorities said the scheme worked virtually the same way in all the cases. Customers such as Hall sought to refinance — in her case, she wanted a conventional 30-year fixed loan, and for her interest rate to drop from 6 percent to just over 5 percent. She would’ve saved $150 a month in payments.

On the advice of a friend, Hall hired Maple Leaf to broker the transaction between the bank who held her old mortgage and the bank that was assume the new mortgage. Maple Leaf took $379,000 from PNC Bank and was supposed to pay off the old loan held by MetLife.

But the money never reached its destination. Federal prosecutors said Weiss instead kept the money in his business. MetLife then put the house into foreclosure proceedings, and Hall was stuck with two mortgage payments to two different lenders for the same house.

In an interview this past summer, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein called the scheme “perplexing” because it was obvious that money wasn’t being delivered from one lender to another. “Perpetrators should realize that they are almost certain to be caught sooner or later,” he said.

The case was investigated by prosecutors in the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task force.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County, Courts and the justice system
        

County police union chief under investigation

The head of the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police is being investigated after the owner of a sedan service accused him of assault and pointing a gun during a dispute, according to a report. That report says Sgt. Cole B. Weston, who was off-duty, appeared intoxicated.

The Sun's Nick Madigan wrote:

Hosseim Taranpisheh, 51, told police he was waiting for a customer to return to the car and pay him for a ride when Weston approached and began berating him. The customer, Sean Manigault, told police that when he saw Weston draw his gun, he ran into the woods until other officers arrived.

Weston, 48, who has been a police officer since 1984, has not been charged in the incident.

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said Friday that, because the Fraternal Order of Police had endorsed him in his campaign for re-election, he has referred the Weston case to the Harford County state's attorney's office to avoid any conflict of interest.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

March 25, 2011

Alleged "Bounty Hunter" gang member takes plea

[This post has been updated]

A seventh man was convicted in Baltimore Circuit Court Friday in what police and prosecutors say was a gang-related killing of a man who was beaten, wrapped in a blanket, stabbed and set on fire for failing to carry out a task.

With his trial about to begin – in which several co-defendants were expected to testify – 25-year-old Anthony Williams entered an Alford plea, maintaining his innocence but acknowledging prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him in the murder of Petro Taylor in December 2008.

“The evidence the state would present was very strong, and he was afraid the jury would believe the witnesses,” said his defense attorney, Nicole Egerton.

Police say that members and associates of the “Bounty Hunters,” a so-called enforcement arm of the Bloods gang, met for a party at the Red Carpet Inn on Reisterstown Road. There, Taylor was attacked and tossed into the trunk of a vehicle, believed to be dead.

The suspects drove to Leakin Park to dispose of the body, but realized he was still alive and stabbed him three dozen times before dousing him in gasoline and setting his body ablaze, sources told The Sun at the time.

Detectives were able to obtain surveillance footage from the motel, showing a blanket-wrapped body being placed into the trunk.

Authorities have previously convicted “Bounty Hunter” members in similarly ruthless crimes. In one case, a member from California was sent across the country to Baltimore, where he slashed a 19-year-old man with a boxcutter, smashed him with a sledgehammer and stabbed him with a samurai sword before setting his body on fire.

Two Baltimore members of the group were also convicted in a separate case for shooting a fellow member in the back of the head for “false-flagging,” or misrepresenting his status in the gang.
In the Red Carpet Inn case, Taylor’s misdeed was failing to drop off into the commissary account of a fellow member being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

Seven people were charged, including three female co-defendants, Grechauna Rogers, 18, Tenisha Lawson, 20, and Sierra Pyles, 21, who each pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. They have not been sentenced yet, with their pleas held pending their participation in Williams’ now-aborted trial.

Three other men, Devin Melton, 19, Lawrence Walker, 21, and Dominique Boone, 19, were also initially charged with conspiracy to commit murder and pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, receiving 10 years in prison with all but three years suspended. Walker has already been accused of violating his probation, court records show.

Williams’ plea agreement includes a cap on his sentence not to exceed life with all but 30 years suspended. He will be sentenced April 6, Egerton said.

Related: A chapter is dedicated to this ongoing case in a book written by former Baltimore Police Det. Sgt. Kelvin Sewell and Investigative Voice founder Stephen Janis.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:31 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, Gangs, Northwest Baltimore
        

Police at standoff in Cherry Hill; school locked down


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UPDATE: Police say the standoff is over -- the 31-year-old female has been released and the 20-year-old man is in custody. According to family members of the woman who spoke with The Sun, she called and urged them to come get her. "I heard, 'Get down on the floor,' and the phone went dead," the woman's mother said. As police set up a crime scene several blocks away, her family sat in an SUV with the woman's children less than a block away from the hostage scene, watching officers set up around the house. Police say a semi-automatic handgun was recovered from the suspect, who has not been identified because he has not yet been charged.

ORIGINAL POST: Baltimore police are at the scene of a standoff in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of South Baltimore. Preliminary reports from police indicate that a man his holding a female companion against her will inside a house in the 2700 block of Berea Road.

There is no word yet on whether the man is armed. SWAT officers are positioned around the house and several streets are closed. The standoff began about 10:30 a.m. In addition, students at the Arundel Elementary/Middle School are in in lock down.

"They’re just not letting people in and out until police clear the activity, and get a handle on what’s going on,” a city school spokeswoman told The Sun's city schools reporter, Erica Green. Our police reporter, Justin Fenton, is at the scene and we'll have more updates here and on the Baltimore Sun website.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:34 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, South Baltimore
        

Police investigating morning stabbing death in Barclay


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City police are investigating the morning discovery of a body in an alley in the Barclay community in the Eastern police district. Police say the unidentified man was found in the 2100 block of Barclay Street, and appears to have been stabbed. Though police were working to confirm his identity, they believe he is in his 40s.

The killing continues an uptick in fatal stabbings that we discussed on the blog yesterday; a man was found on Tuesday fatally stabbed inside a vacant home not far from there, in the 500 block of North Avenue. Anyone with information was asked to call homicide detectives 410-396-2100.

Police were also investigating two overnight non-fatal shootings, in Northeast and East Baltimore.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:38 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: East Baltimore
        

Car rental scheme lures hundreds

Lured in by attractive ads in neighborhood newspapers and on the Internet, as many as 1,500 people may have been tricked into paying money to a man who told them they could rent-to-own a car despite having poor or no credit.

Federal authorities called the opportunity a scam and arrested the man and an alleged accomplice, and now they're looking for more victims. "It's a devastating scheme," said U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Daniel Bongino, one of the lead investigators in the case. He said one victim lost his life savings to rent a 2010 Ford Focus.

Read the full criminal complaint.

One of the suspects had tried this before. In 2005, he was convicted of running a similar scheme, only this time with apartments instead of cars. Anyone who thinks they're a victim is urged to call 443-263-1000. Here's how the scheme worked:

Law enforcement officials say those behind the scheme charged people as much as $5,000 on top of monthly payments of up to $500 to participate. They then accompanied clients to car rental agencies and persuaded them to sign what victims believed were long-term leases with options to buy.

Police said the victims actually were renting the cars for just a few days. When the contracts ran out, the rental agencies went after the unwitting clients to get the cars back and collect late fees. By that time, police said, the organizers had stopped returning calls, and the renter was left responsible.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:50 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Confronting crime, Courts and the justice system
        

March 24, 2011

Guide blotter: business owners fight back

The Baltimore Guide's police blotter for South and Southeast Baltimore often contains perhaps unintentional themes. This week in the Southeast, business owners fight back:

Fell Street, 900 block, March 13, 1:14 a.m. Police reported to a bar in response to a robbery, and an employee told them that a man who had been drinking in the bar had gone to use the bathroom during last call, and upon re-emerging, pulled a gun on the employee and said, “Give me the money; I’m not f-—ing kidding.” The employee took money from the register and the man demanded more. Bar employees tackled him and the man wiggled out of his jacket and fled after a struggle. The money was left in the pocket.

Fleet Street, 2000 block, March 13, 5:59 a.m. A man entered a convenience store and grabbed money from the register, then fled after unsuccessfully trying to convince an employee to open the safe.

Eastern Avenue, 3500 block, March 13, 2:59 p.m. Police responded to the report of an attempted robbery at a mattress store and arrested a suspect. It was revealed the man had entered and demanded money. An employee beat the man with a table leg and kept him cornered until officers arrived.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:13 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Best of the Blotter, South Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore
        

Towson liquor store robber gets 20 years

A 25-year-old Baltimore man who held up a Towson liquor store and threatened to kill one of its clerks was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison Thursday for armed robbery, according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Aaron Davis and a co-conspirator emptied two cash registers at York Liquors in Towson on Jan. 19, 2010, according to his plea agreement. Davis put a gun to the back of a clerk’s head during the robbery. He was captured on a surveillance video.

His accomplice, Edward Sample, pleaded guilty in January to armed robbery and is scheduled for sentencing May 5.

-Tricia Bishop

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:27 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

More details in arrest of city officer

The Harford County Aegis newspaper reports today on details of the allegations against Baltimore Officer Kevin Rowland, who was charged Wednesday with inappropriately touching a 17-year-old girl who police say was in his care.

The girl told police that he has kissed her on the mouth and had her sit on his lap, confiding in her about marital problems, exchanges she found "weird" and "uncomfortable," the newspaper reported. Rowland, according to court documents, said that the kisses were "normal pecks on the lips" and that he told her that their relationship could "never got that route, period."

Rowland was released after posting $100,000 bond in Harford County District Court. Rowland is a member of the regional gun trace task force and has been placed on suspension, city police said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:13 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Harford County
        

City Paper reporter admits buying pot from story subject

The Baltimore City Paper's Van Smith made a unique disclosure in a Mobtown Beat story on Wednesday titled "Sweet Deal." Ten years ago, the author had bought small quantities of marijuana from the subject of the story.

The "subject" was a record company owner who had pleaded guilty to drug charges.

Is this a conflict that needed to be disclosed? Smith told Jim Romenesko, who runs a popular media blog, that he had no choice. As most reporters know, the cover-up is often worse than the crime, and it would be embarrassing for it to come out from someone else that you had once bought drugs from the drug dealer you're writing about.

Here is what Van Smith told Romenesko: 

"Journalistic reasons. Had to. No other options, given deadline, foreclosing possibility of someone else writing the piece instead, which would've been preferable. My long-ago interactions with the subject only dawned on me after I'd interviewed him and was writing up the part in which he poured out his guts and said he'd dealt weed for years. After giving it some thought, including trying to rationalize NOT disclosing, I realized there simply was no other way to deal with the situation."
Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:43 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Confronting crime, Courts and the justice system
        

Update: Man found stabbed Tuesday was in vacant home


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Police are still working to identify a stabbing victim found inside a vacant home near Greenmount cemetery Tuesday night. Officials say police received an anonymous call at about 9:45 p.m. that there was a body in a vacant home. Officers made entry through the rear of the home and discovered the body of a black male inside. Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police have a tentative identification but have not confirmed the information.

Homicides are down as of today, with 36 people killed compared with 37 at this time last year. Stabbings have comprised 20 percent of this year's killings, continuing a downward trend of the proportion of deaths attributable to gun violence. While shootings have fallen dramatically in recent years, the percentage of deaths by gun - which had held steady at about 80 percent amid those declines - has started to fall. It fell to 76 percent in 2010, and right now is at 69 percent (a small sample size, for sure).

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:26 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore
        

March 23, 2011

"Wire" actress' attorney posts "Free Snoop" video

In a video posted today on YouTube, the attorney for Felicia "Snoop" Pearson urges fans to write her at the city jail and has celebrities such as rapper Wale and record executive Kevin Liles offering words of encouragement. Pearson, who gained notoriety for her ruthless character on "The Wire," was ensnared in a drug investigation this month and is being held without bond on allegations that she financed a heroin operation in the city.

Here's the video, which features no shortage of plugs for the attorney's law practice:

 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:47 PM | | Comments (1)
        

Baltimore officer arrested in Harford on sex offense charges

Harford County authorities said they have arrested and charged a Baltimore police officer with sexually abusing a minor.

In a press release, officials from the Harford County Child Advocacy Center say Kevin Rowland was charged Wednesday afternoon with sex abuse of a minor, fourth-degree sexual offense, and second-degree assault stemming from abuse that police say occurred while the minor victim was residing at his home in Edgewood, from September 2010 and until this month. Officials declined to answer questions about the case and the charges don't yet appear in the state's electronic court records database. .

Rowland has been on the force since 2001 and was most recently assigned to the regional Gun Trace Task Force, police. On his Myspace page, he says he is a married father of two who was in the Army National Guard.

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said the department was “relying on information provided to us and we’ll … follow the outcomes in Harford County.”

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:38 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Harford County
        

City honors deputy police commissioner

Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner for Administration Deborah A. Owens was recognized by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake this morning with the Richard Lidinsky Sr. Award of Excellence in Public Service.

Owens, a member of the department since 1989 who is retiring this year, was given the award in a ceremony at City Hall. Officials said the award is handed out by a committee and given to "long-serving city employees who have worked to improve city services and make city government more efficient." There's a $2,500 prize and a plaque is placed in the City Hall rotunda.

[Sun file photo - 2007]

Owens oversees issues of staffing, recruitment and discipline, and has been a trailblazer as the first woman to hold the chief of patrol position and the first to be promoted to deputy commissioner, when Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III made her part of what he refers to as "Team Bealefeld." Here's an article from 2007 that featured Owens interacting with residents for an "Adopt a Block" program.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:29 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: City Hall, Top brass
        

Police seeking help in identifying stabbing suspects

[Click images to enlarge]

City police are asking for the public's help in identifying some of the suspects involved in a stabbing at a Southwest Baltimore gas station that took the life of a 24-year-old city employee.

Det. Sgt. Kevin Hagan said David McClaughlin had been hanging out with friends at Peju's restaurant and lounge in Woodlawn when he and his friends got into an altercation with another group of people. When McClaughlin and the friends left the club, police believe they were followed by as many as four carloads of people who began fighting with them at a gas station in the 4500 block of Edmondson Avenue, at the Edmondson Village shopping center.

As McClaughlin was defending himself from one of the attackers, Hagan said another man stabbed him repeatedly. Hagan said it appears that bystanders helped break up the disturbance, and one of McClaughlin's friends drove him to St. Agnes hospital.

He later died from his injuries.

Hagan said McClaughlin had a criminal history, but said that appeared to be in his past. He had a girlfriend, children, and had been working for the city for the past eight months. His friends all had clean records. "They out for an evening and it turned into a tragic event," Hagan said.

Police are asking for the public's help in identifying the suspects in these photos, or the owner of the vehicle seen in one of the pictures. Call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:56 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Southwest Baltimore
        

Teen fatally shot in Baltimore County; man stabbed in city

A 16-year-old boy was fatally shot on Tuesday in Baltimore County, the result of a dispute among a group of youths, according to police. The shooting occurred about 2:30 p.m. in a townhouse development in Lansdowne-Baltimore Highlands.

Lt. Robert McCullough, a Baltimore County police spokesman told The Sun's Nick Madigan that only one gun had been fired and that it had not yet been recovered. A bystander said she saw three young men in separate police cars; McCullough said "a few" persons of interest had been taken in for questioning.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore City, police were investigating yet another killing, that of a man who was fatally stabbed about 9:45 Tuesday night in the 500 block of East North Ave. We're awaiting more details on this case.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County, East Baltimore
        

Man killed by off-duty cop "haunted by violence"

The shooting of Marine veteran Tyrone Brown (far left) by off-duty Baltimore Police Officer Gahiji A. Tshamba  quickly became a sensation -- an out-of-control cop with a questionable past linked to drinking had unloaded his gun into an unarmed man who had groped a woman outside a Mount Vernon night club.

The 15-year-veteran officer had led a turbulent career -- shot a man while drunk, crashed his car into a gas station, and was being pursued by creditors and ex-girlfriends. After the shooting, which he says is self-defense, he briefly disappeared, leading to an unprecedented police manhunt for one of their own [read all stories related to the shooting].

But now, as his murder trial nears, new information is emerging about the victim -- a man himself haunted by a violent past in combat, having shot a child, and struggling with vodka and marijuana. He was being treated for depression and suffered post traumatic stress disorder.

None of this may have anything to do with why he got shot that June night, but the officer's defense lawyer wants to  use these newly disclosed psychiatric records to try and convince a jury that the victim had aggressive tendencies. The lawyer hopes that will make the officer's self-defense story more credible.

Read a full account of Brown's past in this chilling story by The Sun's court reporter, Tricia Bishop. And read for the first time some of the witness statements:

"The dark skin gentlemen [Brown] who was walking with the, the two young ladies had his hands in the air and he was walking back, you know, like trying to back up away from the guy [Tshamba]… Next thing you know, the light skin gentleman [Brown] went, took the shot."

— Trillane Hill, 35, no relation to Brown or Tshamba

"I saw the guy with the black t-shirt with his hands up backing away from him [Tshamba, saying] 'man, it's not that serious, wait a minute, wait a minute,' and just all of a sudden, out of nowhere he [Tshamba] pulls out a gun."

— Jacqueline Hill, 45, no relation to Brown or Tshamba

"[My brother Tyrone] said 'I like this girl, she's cute' and he grabbed her behind… then the young man in a white t-shirt, white tank top [Tshamba] said 'don't do that, that's disrespect'… then he pulled out what appeared to be a nine millimeter gun."

— Chantay Kangalee, 30, Brown's sister

"She came over, the girl with the short shorts on that he [Brown] touched and slapped him in his face, and then, next thing you know, the guy in the white t-shirt [Tshamba] started running his mouth… and the next thing we hear, 'pop.' He was, he shot, he shot Tyrone."

— Tammy Dodge, 27, friends with Brown

"He [Brown] was running after him [Tshamba] and when Gahiji had gone ahead and said he was a police officer, the guy [Brown] ran towards him and tried to grab the gun, so, he was, he was a lot taller than Gahiji."

— Tina Gill, 35, friends with Tshamba

"Somebody from behind me just smacked me on my ass real hard… I swung, the guy tried to swing back at me and that's when Gahiji was like 'get on the ground' … the guy, he started, he was like coming towards Gahiji and that's when Gahiji pulled his gun out… and the guy started chasing Gahiji."

— Crystal Ramsey, mid-20s, friends with Tshamba, assaulted by Brown

"The guy charged forward as he was trying to take the gun and Gahiji ran from him, and the guy chased him, and then I heard shots were fired."

— Kya Atkinson, 36, friends with Tshamba

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:32 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Downtown, Police shootings
        

Two cops shot on same street -- 10 years apart

Detectives Michael Rice and Michael J. Cowdery Jr. confronted gunmen on the same desolate stretch of Harford Road. Cowdery was killed in March 2001; Rice was shot this past Friday, and is slowly recovering at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The street remains much the same now as it did a decade ago -- vacant storefronts and ragged shops along a dingy, dangerous street.

Police sent Rice and his colleagues there because of its notorious reputation, one that sadly hasn't changed since police sent Cowdery there, again because of its notorious reputation.

Crime Scenes takes a brief look at Harford Road then and now, amid another spasm of violence that claimed 18 casualties over the weekend and four more on Monday.

At left, The Sun's Kim Hairston captures a scene from Cowdery's funeral in 2001 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Cowdery interrupted a drug deal and was fatally shot in the 2300 block of Harford Road on March 12, 2001. The gunman pumped a bullet into his leg, stood over his prone body and pumped another round into his head. Rice was shot and wounded in the 2300 block of Harford Road on Friday, when he approached a man riding a bicycle and holding a revolver.





Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore
        

March 22, 2011

Family of comatose Hopkins cyclist sues 83-year-old driver

The family of a comatose college student who was struck by a car while riding his bicycle near Johns Hopkins University is suing the 83-year-old driver for $10 million, claiming she made an abrupt right turn into his path.

The Sun's Tricia Bishop reports that in a suit filed Monday, lawyers for Nathan Krasnopoler charged that Jeanette Marie Walke violated multiple traffic laws on Feb. 26 when she collided with the 20-year-old bicyclist as she turned into her apartment building on University Parkway.

According to his lawyers, Krasnopoler has remained unconscious at Johns Hopkins Hospital since the crash, which has stoked outrage among bicycling advocates over the Baltimore Police Department's handling of the case.

Walke has not been charged in the case, though an investigation is continuing. A police spokesman initially said the driver would not be charged, but the department has since backed off that position, saying that decision would be made in consultation with the city State's Attorney's Office.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:27 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, North Baltimore
        

Gun control advocates urge dismissal of Md. handgun permit lawsuit

A national gun control advocacy group on Tuesday weighed in on a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Maryland’s handgun permitting laws, saying the suit seeks to make the state’s gun laws like those in Arizona and would be “bad law and even worse policy.”

In an amicus brief, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence urges for the dismissal of a lawsuit brought last year by the Second Amendment Foundation on behalf of Hampstead resident Raymond Woolland, a Navy veteran who was denied a renewal of his handgun permit.

Brady Center President Paul Helmke said in a statement that Maryland has “wisely rejected the gun lobby’s agenda of ‘any gun, anywhere for anybody.’ Now the gun pushers want the courts to gut Maryland’s laws and let virtually anyone carry a hidden handgun in public.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by the Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation, which successfully has challenged weapons laws in Chicago and the District of Columbia. It challenges a Maryland law that grants permits to carry a handgun only to those who show, among other things, that they could be in danger.

The plaintiffs contend that the Maryland provision is unconstitutional and goes against citizens' rights to bear arms, and the suit asks the court to prevent similar denials while granting Woollard the right to wear a firearm.

Woolland was issued a handgun carry permit in 2003, after his son-in-law broke into his home and attacked him. Documents show he held the man at gunpoint for two-and-a-half hours waiting for county police to respond to the 911 call.

The permit was renewed two years later based on Woolland’s fear of retaliation upon the son-in-law’s release from prison. But a second renewal application in 2008 was denied, with a review board finding that he lacked a “good and substantial reason” to transport the handgun because he could not provide documentation of threats occurring beyond his residence, where he was already allowed to possess a weapon.

“When individuals enjoy a constitutional ‘right’ to engage in some activity, a license to engage in that activity cannot be conditioned on the government’s determination of their ‘need’ to exercise that right,” Woolland’s attorneys wrote in a recent court filing.

“The state … cannot reserve for itself the power to arbitrarily decide, in all cases, whether individuals should be able to carry guns for self-defense. That decision has already been made for the state, in the federal constitution.”

Gun control advocates say the state’s laws are reasonable.

“While the gun lobby may want the courts to make Maryland’s gun laws like Arizona’s, the Tucson shootings are the freshest evidence that overturning the current permitting process would be bad law and even worse policy,” said Helmke, of the Brady center

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:59 PM | | Comments (7)
        

Baltimore man has been missing for a week

Baltimore police say a 35-year-old man hasn't been heard from since March 13. Kenyon McClain spoke to his girlfriend that day and said he was at their Southwest Baltimore apartment, but when she arrived he was not there and not been seen since, nor has he gone to work.

Police say McClain is 5-foot-6 and weighs about 175 pounds. He operates a 2003 silver Chrysler. Anyone with information was asked to call police at 410-396-2488.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:09 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southwest Baltimore
        

Prosecutors describe gruesome slaying in Bethesda

Montgomery County's top prosecutor John McCarthy described an attack so brutal that even cops who've seen it all couldn't comprehend. A woman has been charged with killing her colleague inside a Bethesda yoga store and then hurting herself to trick police into thinking she too was a victim.

That's how what was at first thought to be a random crime became an inside job, police and prosecutors said during Monday's court hearing for the prime suspect. The Washington Post details the hearing:

McCarthy said the attack in the store occurred after closing March 11, shortly after Murray reported to a manager that she had discovered stolen store merchandise inside Norwood’s bag. Norwood bludgeoned Murray for as long as 20 minutes and struck so many blows in the same places on her body that it was difficult to determine the exact number of wounds, the prosecutor said.

“The nature of this crime is shocking in terms of the level of violence,” McCarthy told the judge. “The majority of the blows were directed at [Murray’s] head. Her skull was crushed during the attack.”

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Crime elsewhere
        

Four more shot in city

Just hours after Baltimore's police commissioner decried the violence that consumed the city this weekend, and announced new patrols to combat it, four more people were shot Monday night. None of the wounds proved fatal, but it appeared that two days of gunfire did not end with the beginning of the work week.

The shootings were scattered around Baltimore -- Northwest, Northeast and Southeast -- and police said none appeared connected. Earlier Monday, Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III met with reporters to once again complain about the proliferation of guns and how easy it seems to be caught with one and escape serious jail time.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Northeast Baltimore, Northwest Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore
        

March 21, 2011

Wounded officer undergoing emergency surgery

Detective Michael Rice, who was shot and injured by a suspect Friday night, was expected to be released from a local hospital as soon as Monday afternoon. But police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Rice has undergone emergency surgery tonight after suffering new complications from his injury. Police said Friday that a bullet that struck Rice in the neck had been lodged near his lung. 

His prognosis was not immediately known. Police will update his condition as they learn more. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:20 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Man's interactions with police increasingly became dangerous

The man accused of shooting police Officer Michael Rice on Friday night had increasingly dangerous interactions with police, court records show. 

In 2008, according to court records, 23-year-old Gerry Gough was stopped in North Baltimore and struggled with officers, who eventually recovered baggies of marijuana. A year later, he was at a Northwest Baltimore bus stop when detectives saw the outline of a handgun in his pants and chased him.

Gough told police in a debriefing after that arrest that he carried a weapon for protection and knew how to get more – his cell phone wallpaper even displayed an image of him clutching a weapon, court records show. But he received just six months in jail from a District Court judge.

District Court Judge Barbara Waxman sentenced Gough to six months in that case, and ordered him to pay a $300 fine. He never paid and was ordered to serve another three days in jail. We've placed a call to Waxman to find out more about the case.

Police say on Friday, Gough didn’t wait for police to approach him.

Riding a bicycle at E. 25th Street and Harford Road, he pulled a gun and fired at officers who had pulled up behind him in an unmarked car.

Rice, a war veteran who was shot during overseas combat, was struck in the neck, and the bullet lodged near one of his lungs. Officers returned fire and wounded Gough, who according to one law enforcement source is paralyzed from the waist down from his injuries.

City officials have been pushing statistics that show the average amount of jail time served by misdemeanor gun offenders – like Gough – is just four months, and 82 percent of jail time imposed by the court system for gun offenders was suspended.

Rawlings-Blake has endorsed legislation that would set a mandatory minimum sentence of 18 months and a maximum sentence of 10 years for those people arrested with an illegal, loaded firearm. But legislators appear to have reservations about the legislation.

“We’re hopeful that people all across the state say here is something we can do to make our community instantly safer from these maniacs with guns who are running around,” Bealefeld said. “These men and women are out there risking their lives … willing to suffer any hazard to make this city safer.”

Police looking to "punch" back after violent weekend


View Weekend violence in a larger map

After a weekend that saw nearly 20 people injured or killed, including a city police officer, Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said the department is looking to increase visibility and “punch in the mouth” those responsible for the violence.

Bealefeld, who has been with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in Annapolis pushing tougher penalties for gun offenders, highlighted the arrest record of a man accused of opening fire on a city police officer Friday night in East Baltimore. Gerry Gough, 23, had a gun conviction from 2009 but received just six months in jail.

“To say it minimally, it’s [exasperating] that more people don’t understand the enormous ramifications of these guys running around the city with these handguns,” Bealefeld said at a morning news conference. “The 660,000 people living in this city expect when people do bad things, they’re going to be held accountable.”

A weekend that began with record temperatures gave way to the year’s largest explosion of violence so far, kicking off Friday afternoon when two men were shot in West Baltimore along Mosher street. Bealefeld said shots were fired from a gold Acura, and he said detectives believe a triple shooting in East Baltimore later that night might have been retaliatory. He said officers had a “hot lead” on the suspects.

Shootings came in bunches – in addition to the shootings connected to the Acura, two men were shot near Druid Hill Park, three were shot in Bolton Hill, and three in Northwest Baltimore on Sunday night. In all, three men were killed, including a man beaten to death in Pigtown and a 24-year-old man who police say was ambushed at a gas station in Edmondson Village.

In that case, police say David McClaughlin Jr. is believed to have been followed home from a club in Woodlawn and attacked at a gas station. Det. Sgt. Kevin Hagan said police believe he was stabbed during the altercation.

McClaughlin for the past eight months has been working for the city as a street sweeper. Though he had a drug record, Hagan said "he was really trying to make something of his life" and was an innocent target.

McClaughlin and his friends had been hanging out at a club called Peju’s Restaurant and Lounge on Woodlawn Drive. Anyone with information was asked to call the homicide unit at 410-396-2100.

Bealefeld said police are planning two major initiatives to hit back at the violence. Police already deployed 16 foot patrol officers to known hot spots near the boundaries of the Western and Central districts over the weekend, and the department is trying to increase visibility “in areas where we’re seeing open drug sales, some of the areas where some of these gang guys and others congregate.”

He said police would be cracking down on loitering, and over the weekend a spokesman said motorists could expect to be pulled over for even the most minor traffic violations. Bealefeld denied that such efforts were a throwback to so-called mass arrest policies that he has sought to distance the department from.

“We did not send a message out that we should be opening the floodgates to arrests,” Bealefeld said. “We believe that some of these incidents are very narrowly focused … I expect that my operations people can come back and say, ‘This guy’s responsible, and this is what we’re going to do to knock him out of business.’ You can’t arrest enough of those guys, but patrolling the city indiscriminately is not the answer to this problem.”

Police said the officer who was shot on Friday night, Michael Rice, was recovering and could be expected from a hospital today. Anthony Guglielmi, the department’s chief spokesman, said Rice was a combat veteran who was shot overseas.

Rice was patrolling the area when his vehicle pulled up behind Gough, who was riding a bicycle. Gough opened fire and struck Rice in the neck, and the bullet lodged near one of his lungs. Officers returned fire and wounded Gough, who according to one law enforcement source is paralyzed from the waist down from his injuries.

“These men and women are out there risking their lives … willing to suffer any hazard to make this city safer,” Bealefeld said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:30 PM | | Comments (14)
        

City police to address violent weekend; state trooper shoots man after chase

It was another one of those violent weekends in Baltimore -- at least 18 wounded, several dead, including a 4-year-old boy who apparently got hold of a gun and fatally shot himself in the head. The latest in this spate of violence occurred Sunday night in Northwest Baltimore, when three people were shot.

Baltimore police officials have called a news conference for late this morning to discuss the violence; hopefully we'll learn whether any of it is connected. It came in two spurts -- Friday night, which included the wounding a city police officer, and throughout the day and night on Sunday.

The violence included, but is not limited to, a fatal shooting on Frankford Avenue, a man fatally stabbed at a West Baltimore gas station, and a fatal shooting in Pigtown. Check back for more details later today.

Meanwhile, a Maryland State Police trooper shot a New Jersey man in the hand after a chase Sunday night that started with a stolen car spotted in the Fort McHenry Tunnel and ended up further south on I-95 in Prince George's County. See more details.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:53 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Crime elsewhere, East Baltimore, Top brass
        

March 20, 2011

Man arrested in February murder in NE Baltimore

Baltimore City Police said that a 24-year-old Baltimore man, Patric Glasco (seen at right), has been arrested and charged in connection with a Northeast Baltimore murder last month.

Police that Glasco has been charged with the murder of Martez Anthony Hall, 22, who was found shot in the torso in his home in the 1600 block of East 31 s t Street on Feb 16. He had been shot through the window, police said at the time.

Detective Jeremy Silbert said late Sunday that Glasco has also been charged with two counts of attempted murder and other charges including assault.

Glasco's record includes a 2007 indictment for attempted murder, robbery and firearm possession with a felony conviction  - all of the charges were dropped. He's got a slew of other charges and convictions, and appears to be awaiting trial on drug charges filed in 2010.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:29 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Northeast Baltimore
        

More victims as violent weekend comes to close


View Weekend violence in a larger map

[UPDATE: 11:05 p.m. - Police and fire officials are tweeting that there have been three shootings in Northwest Baltimore. They have been added to this map.]

City police are reporting at least two additional homicide victims from what quickly became a bloody weekend, with 18 people reported injured or killed since Friday afternoon:

-Darshewn Freeman, 44, was found bleeding in the rear of the 1200 block of W. Ostend St. in Pigtown at about 9:40 p.m., and police said he was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died the next morning around 9 a.m. A cause of death was not immediately known and pending an autopsy. 

-David McLaughlin Jr., 24, also died after being stabbed in the 4500 block of Edmondson Ave., at the Edmondson Village Shopping Center. Police said he was at a gas station when he was jumped by several individuals. He was stabbed several times and taken to St. Agnes Hospital, then Maryland Shock Trauma, where he died at about 5 a.m. Police believe McLaughlin, who according to court records has prior drug convictions, may have been targeted. 

Beginning Friday afternoon, the city saw a police-involved shooting that injured an officer and left the suspect critically injured; at least three homicides - McLaughlin, Freeman and Angelo Fitzgerald, who was shot in Bolton Hill; and a slew of non-fatal shootings. There was also the tragic death of 4-year-old Tyeshawn Townsend, who found a loaded gun in a Northwest Baltimore home and shot himself in the face. Police will be briefing the media on the incidents on Monday morning at a news conference at headquarters.

March 19, 2011

Spate of shootings overnight in city

In addition to the shooting of a Baltimore police officer Friday night, and the wounding of the gunman [read complete coverage and watch video from Jessica Anderson, Justin Fenton and Jerry Jackson], city police reported a spate of other shootings, injuring 11 people total from Friday afternoon to early Saturday. Here is a list from Baltimore police spokesman Jeremy Silbert:

On 3/18 at 8:35pm, two men were shot in the 2300 block of E Hoffman Street. A 20 year old man was shot in the foot and another man was shot in the wrist. I don't have any additional info at this time on suspect/motive.

On 3/18 at 10:50pm, two 18 year old men walked into a downtown hospital after being shot.  The victims told Detectives that they were walking in the 2200 block of Orem Avenue and heard gunshots. They began to run and were shot. 1st victim shot in the arm and shoulder. 2nd victim shot in the leg. The victims obtained a ride to the hospital to be treated.

On 3/19 at 1:55am, officers responded to a call for a shooting in the 300 block of McMechen Street. Officers found a 21 year old man suffering from multiple gun shot wounds. He was transported to Shock Trauma where he died from his injuries at 2:30am.

Officers also found two other men suffering from gun shot wounds in the block. The 2nd victim was shot in the torso and the 3rd victim was shot in the leg. They were both transported to local hospitals for treatment. Preliminary info is that all three victims were in the block when 2 unknown suspects began to shoot at them. No suspect/motive at this time.

Earlier Friday, between 2:05 p.m. and 2:15 p.m., two men were shot in incidents believed to be related along Mosher Street, at the intersections of Pennsylvania Ave and North Mount Street.

(photo of the police shooting is by The Sun's Jerry Jackson)

Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore, West Baltimore
        

March 18, 2011

City officer shot, man critically wounded in Eastern District


View Larger Map

This post has been updated.

A city police officer has been shot and injured in East Baltimore by a man who was critically wounded when officers returned fire. 

The incident occurred near North Avenue East 25th Street and Harford Road. A police spokesman confirmed that an officer was shot in the neck after his vehicle pulled up behind a man on a bike. The man opened fire as an officer approached, police said. Two sources said the officer is assigned to the Violent Crimes Impact Section, a plainclothes unit, and police said he is a 30 year old with six years on the force. 

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said he and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake have been challenging officers to concentrate on violent areas and that police are risking their lives to make the city safer.

The suspect was wounded when the officer's two partners returned fire, and police said the suspect was in critical condition at a local hospital, correcting an earlier statement that he had been killed. His name was not immediately released.

When the shooting occurred, officers could be overheard on the police radio calling for a medic, then making the decision to transport the injured officer to Maryland Shock Trauma Center themselves after determining the ambulance was taking too long. They could be heard arranging to have officers block traffic to clear a path.

Sun reporter Jessica Anderson reports from the scene that there's an overturned bicycle and a white vehicle that appears to be an unmarked police car.

As police were investigating the police-involving shooting, a double shooting was reported near Collington Square park in the area of 1300 Patterson Park. The crime scene reportedly covered a broad swath of the block, and at least one of the victims was transported by citizens to the Johns Hopkins Hospital emergency room.

It's the first shooting of an officer since Officer William Torbit was fatally shot by fellow officers outside a club in January. A commission of experts appointed by the mayor met earlier this week to begin reviewing department policies and the circumstances surrounding that shooting. An unarmed civilian was also killed in that incident.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 7:55 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: East Baltimore
        

Report: Bethesda yoga store victim was actually perpetrator

Breaking news from TBD.com, via ABC7:

Authorities have arrested a suspect in the Lululemon Athletica attack that claimed the life of 30-year-old Jayna Murray.

The suspect detained is the unidentified 27-year-old woman who also claimed she was attacked in the incident.

The suspect was found bound with Murray inside the store.

Police sources said statements from the 27-year-old woman and forensic evidence weren't consistent. Police suspect the woman caused her own wounds after killing Murray. Police have charged the woman with murder. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:16 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Crime elsewhere
        

Victim confronts murderer, rapist: "I'm not scared of you"

When it was time for the 38-year-old woman to address the court about the man convicted of raping her and leaving her for dead, she at first struggled to find the words. She fumbled with her hands, and scratched her head.

"I can't do nothing but think about him," she slowly told Judge Timothy J. Doory. "I was in therapy, and they said when a person is an abuser, once upon a time maybe they was abused. But he did that."

Her voice rising, she turned to William Vincent Brown, the man convicted in her attack and two others that left a 15-year-old girl and a 25-year-old woman dead.


"That day you were taking me to Leakin Park, I saw something. It was like the devil was jumping in and out of your body, like you were fighting something."

She moved closer to him.

"You tried to take them," she said, referring to the ears he nearly severed from her head. "But God gave them back.

"I just want you to know, I'm not afraid of you. I'm not scared of you. I'm not even angry at you no more. I'm just praying for you."

Her emotional words brought to a close a period of terror in which police and prosecutors say Brown, 44, targeted vulnerable women, two of whom were sex workers, in Northwest Baltimore. Police say the Gwynn Oak man confessed to one of the crimes, and was linked through DNA to all three.

Read the full story here, where Sidney Ford, who works with women engaged in prostitution and human trafficking, expresses frustration over the 50-year sentence imposed on Brown.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, Northwest Baltimore
        

Two afternoon shootings on West side


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City police are investigating two shootings that occurred minutes apart in West Baltimore this afternoon and may be linked.

The first was reported at 2:05 p.m. at North Mount and Mosher streets. A man was shot in the chest and taken to Maryland Shock Trauma center in life-threatening condition, spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Ten minutes later, officers were called to another shooting less than a mile away at the intersection of Mosher Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, where a man had been shot in the leg. 

"They appear at this point to be related," Guglielmi said. On Thursday night, two men were shot a mile north, at a carryout restaurant in the 2700 block of Pennsylvania Ave. One of the victims died, and Guglielmi said police are investigating a possible robbery motive.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore
        

Convicted rapist pleads guilty to two murders, sentenced

A 44-year-old man convicted two months of raping one woman and trying to rape another was sentenced today to life in prison -- with all but 50 years suspended -- after pleading guilty to killing two other women in 2003.

“The defendant targeted defenseless, vulnerable young women facing challenges such as
mental issues, addiction, and poverty," State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein said in a statement. "He believed that these women were expendable and that we wouldn’t pursue their killer with vigor because of their backgrounds. He was wrong on both counts. Nobody in our city is invisible, second class, or beneath our concern."

The killer, William Vincent Brown, from Gwnn Oak, dumped the bodies, and a third victim he tried to kill, in Leakin Park. The closure of this case helps shed light on a series of attacks that occurred several years ago. The Sun's Tricia Bishop documented the case in January, and her report can be found here.

More details from a statement issued by Bernstein's office:

WILLIAM V. BROWN PLEADS GUILTY TO TWO MURDERS

Already convicted of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree rape, 44-year-old
to serve 50 years in prison Less than two months after being convicted for raping and attempting to kill a woman, William Vincent Brown pled guilty to two additional murders.

For the three crimes, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Timothy Doory sentenced Brown today to life in prison with all but 50 years suspended. During a three-month period in 2003, Brown, 44, murdered Antania Mills, raped and disfigured Wendy Davis, and killed Emma O’Hearn, according to evidence presented at the defendant’s trial involving the attack on Ms. Davis and Brown’s subsequent plea of guilty to the two murders.

Just 15 years old at the time, Mills was discovered on March 7, 2003, along the side of the road, nude with a shirt wrapped tightly around her neck, shoe strings and a cloth belt binding her ankles. The cause of death was blunt force trauma and asphyxiation. One month later, Davis was found unconscious in Leakin Park by employees of the Baltimore Department of Parks and Recreation.

So severe were her injuries that she required reconstructive surgery to both ears and physical therapy to learn to eat again. A Baltimore City Circuit court jury convicted Brown in January 2011 of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree rape for his attack on Davis.

In June 2003, O’Hearn, barely conscious and severely beaten, was located by two students on the grounds of Calverton Middle School. She ultimately died from the severe head trauma she suffered.

“The defendant targeted defenseless, vulnerable young women facing challenges such as mental issues, addiction, and poverty. He believed that these women were expendable and that we wouldn’t pursue their killer with vigor because of their backgrounds. He was wrong on both counts. Nobody in our city is invisible, second class, or beneath our concern,” said State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein, who filed a Sentencing Memorandum with the Court.

Raids in Arundel yield guns, drugs

A series of police raids over the past several days in Anne Arundel County has led to the arrests of several suspects and the seizure of drugs and guns linked to a suspected heroin and marijuana trafficking ring.

Police hit homes in Pasadena, Severn and Annapolis and traced packages containing suspected drugs through a parcel delivery service. Five people were arrested on drug and gun charges in operations conducted Wednesday and Thursday.

Authorities said they traced drugs being sent through the mail to various locations. The total value of the marijuana seized is estimated at $215,000 and weighted about 20.5 pounds, police said. Guns taken by police include an Uzi machine gun, four handguns and assorted rifles and shotguns.

The photographs are from the Anne Arundel County Police Department. For more information about the raids, read the police statement below: 

On March 17, 2011, at approximately 6:45 a.m., members of the Special Enforcement Section’s Tactical Narcotics Team with assistance from the Special Operations Section executed a search and seizure warrant at 7826 Huff Court in Pasadena, Md. This concluded an investigation in reference to drug activity at this residence.

Upon searching the residence, detectives seized approximately 1.23 grams of suspected heroin with an approximate street value of $313. Detectives also seized a Raven Arms .25 caliber handgun, $491.00 in U.S. currency and drug paraphernalia. Two suspects were arrested and charged accordingly.             

Suspect #1: Johnny Pabon, 49, of 7826 Huff Court, Pasadena, Md. The suspect was charged with Distribution of Heroin (2 counts), Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Heroin, Possession of a Firearm with a Nexus to a Drug Trafficking Crime and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Suspect #2: Duewa Miller-Pabon, 37, of 7826 Huff Court, Pasadena, Md. The suspect was charged with Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Heroin, Possession of a Firearm with a Nexus to a Drug Trafficking Crime and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

SPECIAL ENFORCEMENT SECTION INVESTIGATIONS:

On March 16, 2011, detectives from the Anne Arundel County Police Department’s Special Enforcement Section working with HIDTA detectives intercepted a suspicious parcel at a local package sorting facility in Anne Arundel County. Detectives were able to obtain a search warrant for the parcel. Inside of the parcel detectives located approximately 60 grams (2 ounces) of suspected crystal methamphetamine. The package was destined for 1703 Sage Brook Court in Severn.
     
Detectives conducted a controlled delivery of the parcel to the address. A subject later identified as Jeffrey Crook accepted the package. Crook along with a second subject, Jeffrey Harrington, were both taken into custody. A search warrant was executed at the residence. Detectives located and seized 15 bags containing suspected crystal methamphetamine with an approximate street value of $1,300 of U.S. Currency along with assorted CDS paraphernalia. Crook and Harrington were transported to the Western District for processing.

The total weight of the suspected methamphetamine seized from the parcel and residence was 71 grams with a street value of $14,000. The suspects were arrested and charged accordingly. Both suspects were charged with Importing into State 28 grams or more of Methamphetamine, Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Paraphernalia

Suspect #1: Jeffrey David Crook, 40, of 1703 Sage Brook Court, Severn, Md
Suspect #2: Jeffrey Saunders Harrington, 41, of 1703 Sage Brook Court, Severn, Md

On March 16, 2011 detectives from the Anne Arundel County Police Department’s Special Enforcement Section working with HIDTA detectives intercepted a suspicious parcel at a local package sorting facility in Anne Arundel County. Detectives were able to obtain a search warrant for the parcel. Upon opening the parcel, detectives located 21 bags of suspected high grade marijuana. Detectives then conducted a controlled delivery of the parcel to a local hotel.

A short time later, detectives arrested Cynthia Hathaway, who was coming to the hotel to pick up the parcel. Detectives then delivered the parcel to a location in the Annapolis area, where they observed a second subject, Charles Mcloud, take the parcel and walk towards his vehicle.  Detectives subsequently arrested Mcloud and recovered the parcel.  
     
A search warrant was obtained for Mcloud’s residence located at 363 Forest Beach Road in Annapolis. Detectives knocked on the door and made contact with Linda Mcloud and immediately noticed the odor of fresh marijuana. A search of the residence was conducted and detectives located and seized an indoor marijuana grow. The grow consisted of eight mature marijuana plants. Detectives also located and seized three grams of suspected cocaine, 10 shotguns/rifles, four handguns, an uzi machine gun and approximately $8,000 in U.S. currency. The 21 bags of marijuana had a combined weight of 20.5 pounds. The total street value of the marijuana in the parcel and the marijuana plants was approximately $215,000.  

Suspect #1: Cynthia Lynn Hathaway, 47, of P.O. Box 1079, Garberville, CA. The suspect was charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Possession of Marijuana

Suspect #2: Charles Edward Mcloud, 35, of 363 Forest Beach Road, Annapolis, Md. The suspect was charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana (2 counts), Possession of Marijuana, Manufacturing CDS, Possession of Cocaine, Possession of a Firearm in a Drug Trafficking Crime


Suspect #3: Linda Mcloud, 30, of 363 Forest Beach Road, Annapolis, Md. The suspect was charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana,
Manufacturing of CDS, Possession of Cocaine and Possession of a Firearm in a Drug Trafficking crime

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:03 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Anne Arundel County, Breaking news
        

Man shot at city carryout dies


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A man wounded Thursday night in a double-shooting in a West Baltimore carryout has died, according to police:

Police responded to the U.S. Fried Chicken at 2738 Pennsylvania Ave. in West Baltimore shortly before 9 p.m. for a report of a shooting. An officer found a 29-year-old man lying on the floor of the restaurant with a gunshot wound to the neck. The man was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead at 9:37 p.m., police said.

The second victim, whose 22nd birthday is Friday, suffered a gunshot wound to the right leg and was found by police in front of a nearby liquor store. He was taken to an area hospital, and police believe his injuries are non-life-threatening, although his medical status was unknown.
Map Baltimore homicides.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:01 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: West Baltimore
        

March 17, 2011

Blistering report details dysfunctional NOLA police dept

Federal law enforcement officials today released a 10-month investigation into the New Orleans police department that the New York Times says reveals "a profoundly and alarmingly troubled" force. The report was compiled by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, a former Montgomery County official who until 2009 led the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Among the findings in the report, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune: officers were too quick to use excessive force on the streets and too often neglected to document such use of force after the fact; bias against minorities and routinely stopping people without any legal basis for "pat down" searches. Perez wrote that the deficiencies existed "long before" Hurricane Katrina.

The report also found that the police 'systematically misclassified possible sexual assaults, resulting in a sweeping failure to properly investigate many potential cases of rape, attempted rape and other crimes.'

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Crime elsewhere
        

O'Malley denies commutation requests

An update from Julie Bykowicz at The Sun's Maryland Politics blog:

Gov. Martin O'Malley has declined to commute the sentences of seven inmates serving life in prison, his office announced this afternoon.

The decisions -- the first he has made since taking office in January 2007 -- come as lawmakers are weighing major changes to the governor's role in the parole process.

Fellow Democrats have been critical of O'Malley's lack of action on 50 parole commission parole and commutation requests, some of which have been sitting on his desk since his first days as governor.

The inmates who have been denied commutation are: Yusuf Rasheed, Charles Chappell, Lee Moore, Calvin Ash, Clarence Cowan, David Brown and Edward Levicy.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:20 PM | | Comments (1)
        

Man guilty in Guilford attacks; had received suspended sentence in earlier case

A man whose suspended sentence in an armed holdup in Guilford three years ago became emblematic of problems with the city’s criminal justice system pleaded guilty Thursday to two more violent attacks in the North Baltimore neighborhood and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

“You are a menace to the community,” Circuit Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill told 21-year-old John Couplin. “The only thing that I can do is isolate you from the community. … There’s a possibility you will rehabilitate. Maybe.”

 

Couplin’s crime wave through upscale Guilford included robbing a woman at knifepoint on the steps of her home in 2008, and two years later terrorizing three women at gunpoint and forcing a college student into the trunk of his car while using his bank card to withdraw money up and down York Road.

The suspect’s violent past attracted attention after his latest arrest in January 2010 in connection with the attacks on the women and the student, which occurred six days apart. The case became fodder for critics of then-State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy who viewed her as too quick to acquiesce to plea deals and too timid to take challenging cases to trial.

Read how citizen activist group called Court Watch kept track of this case.

Suspect gets stiff sentence for violating probation

Harrowing details of college student's abduction

Victim of earlier attack told she couldn't testify

Guilford residents lash out at system

More from Thursday's court hearing: 

 

Guilford residents were outraged to learn after the January holdups that Couplin had pleaded guilty to the 2008 knife attack but had spent only about year behind bars. A judge had suspended eight years, 11 months and 10 days of a 10 year sentence. Couplin walked free the day he pleaded guilty on June 18, 2009, having served only the time spent awaiting trial.

Within six months, Couplin was back in Guilford, this time with a gun. One of the frightened women he robbed curled into a fetal position on the ground, the judge said, “I presume to avoid being shot,” and the student spent hours locked in his trunk before he was able to escape his mid-morning abduction.

Officials at the time blamed each other for allowing Couplin back on the street after his 2009 conviction.

A spokeswoman for Jessamy, who was later defeated by upstart Gregg L. Bernstein, called the police investigation shoddy and said it left prosecutors with no alternative but to accept a lenient plea bargain. Police countered that they did the best they could with the evidence they had. And Circuit Judge John Addison Howard said he accepted the plea to help clear his crowded docket.

The victim of the 2008 attack also lashed out, saying she could’ve easily identified Couplin as the man who put a knife to her throat but that prosecutors told her that one-witness cases were problematic and too risky to take to a jury.

A new citizens group formed to monitor court cases and pressure prosecutors and judges put Couplin on their watch list. Stephen Gewirtz, a retired math professor from Morgan State University, who heads the group, joined City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clark at Thursday’s hearing.

Asked whether she agreed with the 20-year sentence, Clark sputtered and emphatic “No.” Standing in the hallway outside the courtroom doors, she explained, “Twenty years becomes 10 years becomes a modified sentence. The bottom line is that we have to track each and every one of these cases as they come up. We track only the violent offenders and the chronic offenders. He’s both.”

Defendants typically serve about two-thirds of their sentences, so Couplin could be out of prison in a little more than 12 years. The judge left it open for Couplin to request a sentence modification to prove that he has changed his ways while in prison. But Fletcher-Hill warned Couplin to “not get your hopes up,” telling him, “I find it hard to imagine that after a few years I will find it safe to put you back in the community.”

The judge also took note of Gewirtz and Clark, who were sitting among audience members in the courtroom. “Thank you for following the proceedings,” he told them from the bench. “It’s important that citizens care enough to attend.”

None of the victims wanted to speak in court. The college student who was forced into his car trunk did show up and was sitting in the prosecutor’s office. Fletcher-Hill urged Assistant State’s Attorney Lawrence Doan to ask him whether he wanted to say something, in part to determine whether the victim agreed with the plea agreement.

Doan returned to court to say that the man did not want to make a public statement but did consent to the 20-year sentence that encompasses guilty pleas to three separate charges — kidnapping, armed carjacking and robbery with a deadly weapon. Two of the counts carry a maximum 30 year sentence; the other tops out at 20 years.

Couplin also declined to speak. When the judge asked him whether wanted to address the court, the young man simply answered, “No sir.” Couplin has a lengthy criminal record that includes two armed robbery convictions when he was a juvenile and a shoplifting conviction from Baltimore County in November.

That conviction meant Couplin violated the terms of his probation from the 2008 knife attack in Guilford, and in January the same judge who had given him the controversial, suspended sentence, re-imposed all eight years, 11 months and 10 days. That time will be served concurrently with Thursday’s sentence.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Courts and the justice system, North Baltimore
        

Son, 23, charged with setting mother on fire


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A 23-year-old Baltimore County man has been arrested and charged with setting his mother on fire yesterday at her Eastpoint home, police said.

Gordon R. Jenkins has been charged with first-degree arson, attempted murder, first-degree assault and related charges in an attack that police say left his 47-year-old mother in critical but stable condition at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

At about 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, police and firefighters responded to a fire in the 7900 block of Baltimore Street, where Teresa Marie Hamel said her son had entered her bedroom and choked her until she lost consciousness, police said.

When she regained consciousness, her bedroom and clothes were on fire, she told police.
Jenkins is being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center. Police did not disclose a motive.

Records show Jenkins was ordered in September 2010 to stay away from his mother, who filed a protective order against him. Hamel sought a protective order from him in February 2008, but it was dismissed when both failed to show at a court hearing.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:38 PM | | Comments (33)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

Police seeking "REAL GOON," bathroom sink

In this week's Baltimore Guide police blotter for Southeast Baltimore, police are searching for a man with a "REAL GOON" tattoo, and it seems everything's being stolen but including the bathroom sink.

-Police are seeking Darryl Avery Stokes, age 25, for domestic robbery and also for a rape parole violation. He is 6’1” tall and weighs 150 pounds, and is described as a tall, thin black male with long dreads. A tattoo on the front of his throat reads REAL GOON. He has been known to use the alias of Donyea King, a fellow criminal.

-N. Robinson Street, 400 block, March 11, 4:50 p.m. Someone broke into a home through the rear window and took the bathroom sink.

-Herring Court, 200 block, March 8, 7:15 p.m. A man told police that he thought two people were laughing at him, and as a result, he had gotten into an argument with them. Shortly thereafter, two suspect, one a woman known as “Tarsha” and one known as “Kesha” (Kesha was described as a man who dressed as a woman) threw alcoholic drinks on him, and all began fighting with bats and knives. They dispersed before police arrived.

-S. President Street, 600 block, March 8, 4:58 p.m. A man was arrested for stealing the tip jar from an ice cream store.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore
        

Commander: Promising leads in Tanise Ervin shooting

Police are receiving information from the public and have "promising" leads in the shooting death of 19-year-old bystander Tanise Ervin, Northern District Maj. Ross Buzzuro told residents at last night's police community relations council meeting, Patch.com's Adam Bednar reported.

Buzzuro also said he was taking the shooting "personally." A community walk is scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. at Gorsuch Avenue and Independence Street in Better Waverly.

Ervin was fatally shot Saturday, along with two men who survived. Police say Ervin was not the intended target. Read Patch.com's full story here, and our coverage of Tuesday night's vigil that attracted more than 100 people. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:52 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: North Baltimore
        

Arundel County Executive under scrutiny; accused of using police to campaign

There has been no shortage lately of corruption investigations, and the latest out of Anne Arundel County mixes cops and power. The county executive, John R. Leopold, no stranger to controversy, is reportedly under investigation for using his police security detail to campaign, including picking up campaign checks and removing signs of an opponent.

This is just the latest in controversies in and around Baltimore involving police officers, and this one in Arundel appears to stem out of a $10 million sexual harassment suit filed by a female county employee.

Sun reporters Andrea F. Siegel and Nicole Fuller write that an attorney representing five county officers on the security detail are negotiating an agreement with the state prosecutor's office to testify in exchange for immunity.

Other recent corruption cases involving police: 

The Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office announced on Thursday that a Montgomery County police officer was indicted on charges that she helped her drug-dealing boyfriend by accessing sensitive police information for him and creating a "safe haven" for his activities.

In addition to corruption charges filed against the former Prince George's County executive, alleging bribes involving developers, two county police officers have been charged in an alcohol and cigarette scheme.

And in Baltimore, 17 city police officers face charges, and an additional 14 have been suspended, accused of accepting payoffs from a garage owner to steer car accident victims to his Rosedale shop, bypassing city-approved towing companies.  

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County
        

State trooper barely escapes car crash

Fresh off the battlefield and fresh out of the police academy, Thaddeus Allen survived two tours in Iraq only to narrowly miss getting seriously injured or worse when a suspected drunk driver slammed into his cruiser on I-95.

It was just his third time out in a cruiser. He and his training officer had stopped behind a woman who ran out of gas just north of the Washington Beltway. The driver of a Ford Taurus hit the back of Allen's police car, forcing him and his partner to leap over Jersey wall. The woman wasn't hurt, and the driver of the Taurus was charged with drunk driving.

"We were taught that one of our biggest enemies are the other cars on the road," Allen said this week as he recounted his harrowing tale. "Most people don't move over or pay any attention, especially the drunks."

Read more for on the crash and Allens' reaction, and on how car accidents typically claim more lives of police officers than do gunfire.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:33 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, Crime elsewhere, Howard County
        

Owner of dog that mauled girl fined

The owner of two American bulldogs that attacks a 7-year-old girl this past weekend has been fined by Baltimore County animal authorities. The Sun's Jessica Anderson reports:

Owner Tina Baker will not be criminally charged, police spokesman Lt. Robert McCullough said, but Baker faces multiple fines, including $1,000 dangerous animal, $500 menacing animal, $50 wearing of license tags, $200 license required and $50 animal at large violations for each of the two dogs. She has less than a week to pay the fines or appeal the charges, McCullough said.

Police said the two dogs escaped from Baker's fenced in yard and attacked the girl who had been riding her bike in the 700 block of Villager Circle in Dundalk. She was taken to a Johns Hopkins Hospital for serious injuries after the incident, and will need several surgeries to recover from her injuries, a police spokesman said.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:31 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

March 16, 2011

Feds: Montgomery Co. officer conspired with drug dealer boyfriend

The U.S. Attorney's office for Maryland says a Montgomery County police officer has been indicted on charges of conpsiring to help her drug dealer boyfriend access sensitive police information about him and his associates, in addition to providing a "safe haven" for him from his drug dealing activities in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Officer Delores Culmer, 37, of Silver Spring faces drug conspiracy and computer fraud charges, officials said.

Read the press release here:

Montgomery County Police officer Delores Culmer, age 37, of Silver Spring, Maryland was charged by criminal complaint today with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and fraud in connection with computer use.

The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland  Rod J. Rosenstein; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations; and Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.  The investigation in this case was initiated by the Montgomery County Police Department.

"There is no allegation that any other police officers were involved in the scheme," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "I am grateful to Chief Manger and the Montgomery County Police Department for their support."

"Today's charges reflect the outstanding law enforcement partnership between ICE HSI and the Montgomery County Police Department," said William Winter, Special Agent in Charge of ICE HSI in Baltimore. "The law enforcement community here in Maryland and around the country is committed to weeding out those whose acts tarnish the image of the many law enforcement officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities and country safe.”

According to the allegations in the affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, from August 2008 to September 2009, Culmer, a Montgomery County Police officer, assisted a co-conspirator’s drug trafficking organization by using her police powers to access law enforcement databases to obtain information concerning the co-conspirator and his drug associates.  The criminal complaint alleges that the co-conspirator is Culmer’s boyfriend or fiancé.  Culmer is alleged to have performed computer checks on persons who had drug dealings with the co-conspirator.  Culmer also allegedly put assets in her name, including residences in Silver Spring and Cleveland, Ohio, that were actually owned by the co-conspirator in order to hide his ownership of the assets. The co-conspirator allegedly gave Culmer $30,000 in cash drug proceeds to buy the Silver Spring residence, which the co-conspirator used as a “safe haven” from his drug dealing activities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cleveland, Ohio.  In addition, the co-conspirator is alleged to have given Culmer expensive gifts, including an engagement ring worth approximately $100,000. 

The criminal complaint alleges that the co-conspirator had bragged that he could find anyone at anytime.  Further investigation of queries made by Culmer on federal and state databases revealed that on November 24, 2009, Culmer ran registration checks on two vehicles owned by a girlfriend of a drug customer who owed a drug debt to Culmer’s co-conspirator.  Those checks provided Culmer with the current address of the drug customer.   Between January and April 2010, the drug customer reported to local police in Pennsylvania that his girlfriend’s two vehicles were vandalized.  Further, in April 2010, both vehicles were targets of arson. 

The complaint alleges that further investigation of queries on federal and state databases executed by Culmer also revealed that on September 13, 2008, July 18, 2009 and July 30, 2009, Culmer conducted computer inquiries on a Pennsylvania car registered to a second drug customer.  Law enforcement agents have seen this vehicle parked in Culmer’s driveway on several occasions and have seen Culmer driving the vehicle.  Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle records showed that the vehicle was owned by the second drug customer.  Maryland Vehicle Administration records show that Culmer purchased the vehicle for one dollar from the drug customer in the summer of 2010.  Also on September 13, 2008, Culmer allegedly ran a criminal and wanted check on the co-conspirator.

Culmer faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy; and 10 years in prison for fraud in connection with computer use. Culmer had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt before Magistrate Judge Jillyn K. Schulze today at 12:30 p.m.  Magistrate Judge Schulze ordered that Culmer be detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Friday, March 18, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Montgomery County Police Department, ICE - Homeland Security Investigations and IRS - Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Su, who is prosecuting the case.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:53 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Crime elsewhere
        

Peace order against former city official is denied

A judge on Tuesday denied a peace order filed against former City Council president and mayoral candidate Lawrence A. Bell III. Shan Mabry, who claimed to have dated Bell, had accused him of repeatedly breaking into her home and stalking her. She said some of the incidents had been caught on tape - though she also claimed he stole the tapes and destroyed them.

It's the second time Mabry, of the 2400 block of College Ave., has filed a peace order against Bell. The first time, in September, records show that she declined to pursue the case. This time, a judge determined there was "no statuatory basis for relief." He still faces criminal charges filed by Mabry - which now seem likely to be dropped - and declined to comment on the record about the situation Tuesday.

Bell has largely dropped out of view after entering the 1999 mayoral race as the frontrunner and losing to now-Governor Martin O'Malley.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:40 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Better Waverly resident on neighborhood apathy

I received this e-mail this morning from a Better Waverly resident, frustrated with the recent murder of 19-year-old Tanise Ervin but perhaps more frustrated with the response of some of his neighbors who didn't seem to care. This is reprinted with his permission:

I read your coverage of the murder in Waverly and wonder what you thought about it, how the police 'handle' these things. I've lived in the neighborhood now for 6 years and about 6 murders - better than many neighborhoods but a far cry from when I lived in [edited]. Here's my question and the piece missing from the story I wonder...

Just a block away, in plain site of the gathering tonight, those who were shot sat on their porch. Their house was adorned with balloons of sympathy and "get well". Meanwhile Tanise is dead and they sit there, not talking. More to the point - there's not been one mention that they live in the neighborhood itself, that they probably know their shooters. 

I don't think it paints the neighborhood bad to say this - it acknowledges the reality of just how bad things are though some times. Sad and selfish folk who've been almost murdered themselves will keep quiet to protect.... what? themselves? the people who tried to kill them? And there they sit amid balloons and stuffed animals while we carry candles and mourn someone turning their life around. What's wrong with this picture?

And furthermore the police haven't contacted anyone in our neighborhood for information, assistance, questioning etc. since this happened last Saturday. We have a neighborhood "email news listserv", like many neighborhoods, with about 100+ people on it, not all of the neighborhood, but much of it but they never have used it in six years. Why not? Try emailing your police and you get...... __________ in response (often anyways, Buzzaro is pretty good, Doug Gibson as well, most times). That's not helping.

What makes me nuts here is why the police don't use these resources. Mary Pat Clarke knows about the listserv as well. Is it because of protocol? Is it like "Don't tip your hat during the investigation to the criminals?" - I mean it's not like they don't know - they're buddies/enemies are sitting on the porch right now. Am I missing something???

thanks for covering this. Our residents, our neighborhood appreciates it and we all stand together to see it happen less and less.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Northeast Baltimore
        

Vigil recalls murder victim


Police described her as an innocent bystander, hit by a bullet meant for someone else. Her friends and family gathered at a church Tuesday night, near the spot where she was killed, to remember another life lost.

The shooting occurred Saturday evening near Serenity House, an apartment complex where Ervin lived with her mother and which is part of Marian House, a women's shelter run by the Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of Notre Dame.

The commander of the Northern District police station and the homicide detective assigned to the case joined her relatives to denounce the killer and reflect on a aspiring nursing student. The Sun's Justin Fenton (his photo is at left) reports:

She was "sassy and funky," a 19-year-old with a high school diploma in hand and a nursing degree in her sights. But in a moment, Tanise Ervin's dreams were cut short Saturday when a gunman opened fire in her North Baltimore block.

"But I can assure you, we will tirelessly and relentlessly pursue the coward who did this act — I pledge that to all of you," Baltimore Police Maj. Ross Buzzuro said.

Ervin's father implored anyone in the crowd with information to come forward. "This was a senseless crime, one that shouldn't have happened," he said, his voice rising. "This must be resolved. We know what's got to be done. Let's do it."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:13 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: North Baltimore
        

She killed, but judge says psychiatric hospital over jail

She pleaded guilty to murder, but she won't be going to prison. The Sun's Tricia Bishop reports that D'Lanna Simmons was found "not criminally responsible" for beating to death her 66-year-old aunt with the steering wheel locking device known as "The Club."

Tricia reported:

"This was a clear case of somebody who was psychotic," Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Gale E. Rasin said, reading from a doctor's report on Simmons' mental status.

Simmons struck her aunt, Cecelia Mitchell, approximately 56 times on the evening of Sept. 17, then called 911 for help "stating that she had hurt her aunt and that [the woman] was dying," Assistant State's Attorney Tonya LaPolla told the court. Simmons was covered in blood when police arrived.

Simmons will be sent to the Clifton T. Perkins hospital.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:07 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system
        

"Rockefeller" charged in California murder

He rented a Mount Vernon carriage house under the name "Clark Rockefeller" but was quickly arrested and sent back to Boston on charges he kidnapped his daughter in 2008. Now, the man of assumed identities has been charged with murder in Southern California.

He is accused of killing a man he had rented a guesthouse from in the early 1980s. He's been under suspicion in the man's death for the past three years. In 2009, he was sentenced to five years in prison in Boston for kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter, who he had brought with him to Baltimore and who was found safe.

His real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. Here is a story from The Sun published in 2008, when he was arrested in Baltimore, but before authorities had learned his real name:

An international manhunt for a New England man accused of kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter a week ago came to an end yesterday afternoon when FBI agents arrested the fugitive and rescued the girl in Mount Vernon, officials said.

FBI agents were tipped off to the presence of a man known as Clark Rockefeller by a real estate agent who leased him a carriage house in Baltimore, according to a police source familiar with the investigation.The source spoke to The Sun on condition of anonymity because the kidnapping case is being handled by federal authorities.

At a news conference last night in Boston, officials said that federal agents have been watching Rockefeller's Baltimore residence for "a couple of days" and also located his 26-foot catamaran docked at a city marina.

Agents lured Rockefeller out of the carriage house about 3:30 p.m. by placing a phone call to him and saying his boat was taking on water, according to Boston police. When Rockefeller left the place, FBI agents went in and found his daughter, Reigh Boss, police said.

"She was reportedly excited to see law enforcement officials," Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said last night. "Her appearance had not been altered. Reigh appears to be unharmed."

The girl's mother, Sandra Boss, was en route to Maryland yesterday evening.

Rockefeller was arrested without incident, police said. He faces charges of felony kidnapping, assault and battery, and battery with a dangerous weapon. He is expected to be arraigned tomorrow.

The arrest ended about a five-hour stakeout. Lauren Gritzer, 26, said she was in her apartment in the 100 block of W. Monument St. at 10:30 a.m. when FBI agents arrived.

Gritzer, a researcher for Johns Hopkins Medicine, said law enforcement officers stayed in the apartment, which overlooks the carriage house where Rockefeller and his daughter lived, for about five hours. "This isn't my typical Saturday," she said. "I was planning on cleaning my apartment."

Stan Kamau, a parking attendant in the Walters Art Museum lot on the corner of Cathedral and Centre Streets, said he saw about 20 plainclothes officers with pistols and "military guns" run down Cathedral Street about 3:30 p.m. and detain a man, put him in a van and leave."He looked shabby. He didn't look like a kidnapper. He didn't look like someone who could do something big," Kamau said.

Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said that the FBI notified him early yesterday morning that they were watching a person they believed was Rockefeller. He said that he offered to help their operation and that some of the city officers detailed to the FBI joint task force were involved, though he declined to describe their role.

"This operation was very well planned - you would have seen very little out there," said Bealefeld. "I got a very pleasant call [yesterday] afternoon that they were able to do the arrest. I think they handled it very well," he said.

When asked why Rockefeller fled to Baltimore, federal authorities said that that question was "part of their continuing investigation."

Police said that the abduction appears to have been the result of Rockefeller's dissatisfaction with a divorce and custody settlement between him and Boss. The couple divorced in December 2007.

Reports through various media outlets have described Rockefeller as being an enigmatic man who talked little about his past and had used at least four aliases.

Although he lived relatively close, Gritzer said she did not know Rockefeller. Her only interaction with the man was through a real estate agent who asked that she take down a grill perched outside her window. "He [the agent] said that it was blocking his view of the building," Gritzer said. "He said he was going to call the Fire Department and that I was going to get fined. I was like, 'whatever.' I took it down. It was easier."

If it wasn't for the barbeque incident, Gritzer would not have known that someone was living in the two-story carriage house. "There were no lights," she said. "Not even at night."

Gritzer saw the girl for the first time when agents took her out of the home. "She was cute," Gritzer recalled. "She looked like she was in kindergarten. I had never seen her before. I had no idea a little girl was back there."

The 48-year-old father is not related to the wealthy Rockefeller family. He and Reigh were last seen in Boston on July 27, for a pre-arranged visitation in the presence of a social worker. During the meeting, Clark pushed the social worker down and fled the scene with his daughter, according to police. They were picked up by another individual, police said.

The two were taken to Grand Central Station in New York later that night, where they were seen in a cab line near the Hyatt Hotel/Grand Central Station, Boston police said.

Police initially suspected that Rockefeller was trying to flee to Bermuda or Peru on a boat docked on Long Island. But authorities later thought that Rockefeller might have planted false clues.

At the Canton Marina yesterday evening, a man and woman wearing shirts marked "FBI" were aboard a catamaran that matched the description of Rockefeller's boat.

They declined to be interviewed, but the woman appeared to be packing up a small blue cooler, including placing in the cooler a box of purple gloves.

A few moments later, the agents took photographs of the boat from a nearby promenade before leaving.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, Crime elsewhere, North Baltimore
        

March 15, 2011

Class ring leads to burglary arrests

Maybe the suspect in a series of Howard County burglaries (four linked to suspects arrested this week are on the map above) shouldn't have tried pawning a 1971 high school class ring engraved with the victim's initials

Police looking through pawn shop records quickly spotted it, and then traced property taken in three other break-ins in the western part of the county.

Doris Dodge told me that more than $3,700 worth of jewelry was taken during the February break-in of her rental home, but what she really wants back is the ring. It had sentimental value, she said. Now, with a husband-wife team in custody, she and other victims are hoping that at least some of their prized possessions will eventually be returned.

And police are working at several other burglaries to see if they can be linked to the suspects, who live in Mount Airy. Read more details on the case and the arrests. Read the Howard County Police news release on the case.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 5:12 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Howard County
        

Federal officer gets 13 years in brother's death

A 38-year-old federal officer convicted by a jury of manslaughter in the shooting death of his half-brother was sentenced last week to 16 years in prison with all but 13 years suspended, records show.

Prosecutors said Curtis Anthony Warren, an Iraq war veteran who worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, deliberately shot Curtis Anthony Pounds during an argument in the basement of Warren's Northeast Baltimore property where Pounds rented a room.

Warren maintained that he was asleep when he heard a noise and saw two shadowy figures in the basement. He said he fired into the darkness with his personal weapon in self-defense, then flipped on the lights and saw Pounds in a pool of blood. He had taken in Pounds, who he met through a chance encounter, to help him get his life back on track.

Warren faced a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Circuit Court Judge Edward Hargadon on March 10 sentenced him to 10 years for the manslaughter conviction, with all but seven years suspended, plus six years on the handgun charge. The sentences run consecutively, officials said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system
        

Body but no name

Police in Anne Arundel County have a mystery on their hands -- a body but no name.

The Sun's Andrea Siegel brings us a cold case tale of a body of a woman found more than five years ago at the northern tip of the county. Authorities have a composite sketch of what they think the woman looked like, completed from a clay reconstruction of her skull and a drawing by the FBI. Police are awaiting DNA.

Andrea wrote:

The case illustrates the challenges police face in trying to lay to rest an old case with nameless, faceless remains and an unknown cause of death. They hope to bring a sense of closure to families and finality to a case. By reopening the case last month, and putting it in the public eye, they hope somebody who knew or recognizes the woman will come forward. Even a nickname would give them a starting point.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County
        

March 14, 2011

Baltimore hires coordinator to oversee sex assault investigation reforms

Continuing reforms to Baltimore's response to sexual assaults will be steered by a full-time coordinator who for the past six years has overseen residential programs at Howard County's domestic violence center.

Heather Brantner began Monday as coordinator of the Sexual Assault Response Team, a committee of police, prosecutors, medical providers and women's advocates given new purpose after The Baltimore Sun reported last year that the city for years led the country in the percentage of rape cases deemed "unfounded" by detectives.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered an audit that found more than half of the cases investigated over a 20-month period had been misclassified. Officials also identified several other areas for improvement, which Brantner will manage in the newly created position.

Sexual assault and domestic violence "are often intertwined, and I think that coming from a victim-centered approach, I can bring a lot from those past experiences," Brantner said.

Read more here.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 7:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: City Hall, Howard County
        

State trooper saves newborn on roadside

Maryland State Police Sgt. Daniel McLain thought he was pulling up to a disabled motorist this morning.

A car was on the side of Route 100 in Anne Arundel County. But, police said McLain noticed that the man standing next the vehicle had "a look of panic and distress not normally seen, even on the faces of disabled motorists."

McLain, a 20-year veteran assigned to the quartermaster division in Jessup, quickly found out why.

A woman in the backseat had just given birth to a girl. "The trooper saw the at the baby was blue and still attached to the umbilical cord." The sergeant gave the newborn CPR and the girl began breathing, turning to a healthy pink by the time the ambulance arrived.

Baby and mother are reported doing well at Baltimore-Washington Medical Center. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:29 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Anne Arundel County
        

Woman, 19, killed Saturday called "innocent bystander"

City police say the 19-year-old woman who was killed in a triple shooting outside a Better Waverly deli was an innocent bystander - and the men who survived the incident are not cooperating with investigators.

Tanise Ervin recently graduated from high school and was working at a fast food restaurant in hopes of attending Coppin State University in the fall to study nursing, family and friends said. She lived with her mother at Serenity Place, an apartment building on Gorsuch Avenue affiliated with the Marian House women’s shelter where her mother was a participant, according to Katie Allston, the executive director of Marian House.

Police say they responded to a shooting at the intersection of Gorsuch Avenue and Independence Street at about 6 p.m. Saturday, where a gunman had shot Ervin, a 20-year-old man and a 24-year-old man.

Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said Ervin was “not the intended victim of this shooting.” He said the men she was with had been involved in an altercation with the gunman.

“Their cooperation is less than what we’d like,” Guglielmi said.

Family members were reeling from Ervin’s death. “She was a loving person, and had a heart of gold,” said friend Shonte Harmon, 21. “She was an innocent bystander. She was taken away before she could even live her life.”

Ervin had reunited with her mother in recent years, after living for a time in Frederick. Her mother had been participating in Marian House’s programs for the past three years, Allston said.

“She was just a lovely young woman, who had just turned 19” last Tuesday, Allston said.

The corner of Gorsuch and Independence has been plagued by violence for many years, said City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who represents the area. Marian House hosted a series of concerts and public gatherings on the corner in the past to push criminals away from the area, she said.

“This is enough already,” said Clarke. “It’s time to root out the problems.”

Allston said the neighborhood has experienced problems related to the corner store, through no fault of its owners who close the store each night at 7 p.m.

“I don’t want my staff or the residents who live here, to feel this is the kind of neighborhood that they have to be afraid of, and that’s one of the many reasons why we need to catch the person who did this,” she said.

Police are asking anyone with information to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.

Ervin is the latest city homicide victim with a clean criminal record. In the past week alone:

-Charles Hopson, 19, was stabbed in a domestic-related altercation in Southwest Baltimore last year and died this month

-Ronald Gibbs, a 17-year-old boxing standout, was fatally stabbed defending his sister from an attacker who had a 2000 murder conviction in 2000 was charged with murder and was convicted of manslaughter.

-And 57-year-old George Marshall was run down while trying to stop a man who police say was attempting to break into a vehicle at his South Baltimore business.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:04 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: North Baltimore
        

Man convicted in double murder

A 26-year-old convicted by a  jury on Friday of killing two 17-year-olds in a Baltimore park in 2008 is to be sentenced in May and faces two consecutive life terms in prison, according to the city State’s Attorney’s Office.

Timothy Crockett had been released from a federal penitentiary in Illinois, where he was serving time for a gun charge, two weeks before he gunned down Darrius Harrison and Djuan Anderson in Easterwood Park in June three years ago.

Witnesses told police at the time that they heard Crockett and an accomplice “plan and arrange” the shootings and then retrieve a gun. Prosecutors said that both victims had been shot in the head in the 3 a.m. attack.

More cases:

Prosecutors on Monday also announced that a Circuit Court jury last week convicted Donyea King, 21, of 800 block of North Chester St., for his part in a 2008 robbery that ended with a man dead near Lake Clifton Park in Northeast Baltimore.

The incident occurred June 24, 2008, when 41-year-old Phillip Gaddy got out of a car on Abbotson Street near Harford Road and went to a corner store. The store was closed, and as he walked back to his car, police said three men approached him and one demanded his money at gunpoint.

“When Gaddy reached into his pockets, the gunman shot him in the chest,” prosecutors said in a statement. Authorities said that Gaddy’s companion identified King out of a photo lineup and that police found several handguns and ammunition at King’s home.

King was convicted of armed robbery with a deadly weapon and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, and faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced May 2. Prosecutors did not say if anyone has been arrested and charged with murder in the case.

In a separate case last week, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Stuart Berger sentenced Kevon P. Jefferson to life plus 20 years in prison for fatally shooting Antwon Witherspoon on July 13, 2009 during an argument. The shooting occurred about 315 p.m. in the 2900 block of The Alameda.
A jury convicted Jefferson of murder in January.

Woman and 4-month-old son still missing

UPDATE: Police say Stephanie Jones and four-month-old Michael were located safe and unharmed at 2 p.m. in East Baltimore. Police declined to elaborate, and a relative said she had no details on where they had been.

Baltimore police are growing increasingly concerned about the disappearance last week of a 21-year-old woman and her 4-month-old son. Police said Stephanie Jones was last seen March 8 at about 2:20 p.m. as she left a Johns Hopkins Hospital women's center on Eastern Avenue, and has not been heard from since.

Police said over the weekend that Jones had left in the company of a man with dreadlocks and a woman, but chief spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Monday that it's believed she left with two men and that witnesses said she seemed "very comfortable" with them. But all of her baby's belongings were left with a relative in Baltimore, which Guglielmi said has police particularly concerned.

Jones was last seen wearing a royal blue coat, a muti-colored scarf, a blue shirt, dark blue jeans with red Nike sneakers and a purple "Baby Phat" purse.The woman's son is identified as Michael Jones. Anyone seeing Jones and Michael are urged to dial 911. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:44 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore
        

O'Malley not using authority on parole

Martin O'Malley, the tough on crime mayor who became governor, has not used his parole authority to release a convict serving a life sentence. The Sun's Julie Bykowicz there are 50 cases pending and that some lawmakers are considering stripping the state's chief executive of his power.

Julie wrote:

Lawmakers say their review of the parole process was prompted by O'Malley's inaction on commission recommendations through his first four-plus years in office.

Under state law, a lifer recommended for release by the parole commission may not be freed without the approval of the governor. The changes lawmakers are considering would not affect convicts sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Seven of the 50 cases the parole commission has asked O'Malley to review concern the release of a lifer, according to the commission chairman. The remaining 43 involve the commutation of a life sentence to a term of years, which would enable the convict to gain release through good-time credits or parole.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Confronting crime, Courts and the justice system
        

March 12, 2011

Female victim in Better Waverly triple shooting dies


View Larger Map

UPDATE: The victim has been identified as Tanise Ervin, 19. Still no word on a possible motive.

Baltimore police are saying a female victim who was wounded in a triple shooting this evening in Better Waverly has died from her injuries. Two male victims, ages 24 and 20, were in stable condition, police said.

Few details were immediately available, but police said three people were shot after coming out of a deli carryout at the intersection of Gorsuch Avenue and Independence Street, just south of the former Memorial Stadium site, at about 6 p.m. tonight. The shooting is right on the border of the Northern and Northeastern police districts. 

According to Facebook postings, Ervin appeared to have been staying at a nearby women's shelter. She did not have a criminal record.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, North Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore
        

Police commissioner greets young lacrosse players

The cameras were on but the lacrosse stick-carrying-teens engulfing the city’s police chief were reluctant to smile. A coach urged them to loosen up a bit, but their game faces were on.

“This is lacrosse,” Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III reminded the crowd gathered next to the Johnny Unitas statue at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. “You’re either going to smile or act real tough.”

In the end, everyone smiled as Bealefeld draped his arm around the middle and high school students who are part of a growing lacrosse league that partners with Baltimore police officers throughout the city.

The Parks & People Foundation’s Baltimore Middle School Lacrosse League is expanding this year from six to 10 teams and the commissioner wants 30 teams competing. It’s a jump from just a few years ago when Bealefeld began the project mentoring a single team at Calverton Middle School.

For more on the program:

All the teams in the league come from economically depressed areas of the city, and it’s a way of expanding the reach of a sport that can be viewed as elitist. For the police, the partnership is way of getting cops into the communities they serve and, as Bealefeld said, “Give our young men role models.”

But the commissioner has another goal in mind – “grow the next generation of lacrosse players so we have a formidable force in the region.”

Organizers timed Saturday’s event to coincide with the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic, featuring an afternoon of lacrosse [updates from The Sun's sports staff] with Georgetown, Syracuse, Johns Hopkins and UMBC, among others. It was all lacrosse all the time, and Bealefeld didn’t disappoint with his intimate knowledge of the sport. He played mid-fielder in high school from 1976 to 1980 and in community college, giving up only after he broke his collar bone on the field and took his police academy entrance exam wearing a neck brace.

He quizzed the teens on what teams he thought would win this year’s championship – for the record, the commissioner doesn’t think it will be Hopkins – and he singled out young man who is an example of what the day was all about.

William Winer started playing in the lacrosse league while at Bluford Drew Jemison Academy in East Baltimore. He credits the discipline – kids can’t play if they’re grades are poor, they get into trouble or show bad attitude – with getting into Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, regarded as one of the city’s better high schools.

There, at the age of 14, he’s already made the varsity lacrosse team and is studying architecture and culinary arts. Lacrosse, Winer said, “gave me a chance to do something different.”

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: South Baltimore, Top brass
        

Teen critically injured in dirt-bike crash; several people shot in unrelated incidents

A teen-ager is clinging to life at Maryland Shock Trauma after getting into an accident in South Baltmore. And police are reporting several shootings. Here is a briefing from city police spokesman Det. Kevin Brown:

SERIOUS ACCIDENT
3/11/11 - 16:15 Hrs
2200 Blk McHenry Street
 
At the above date, time and location preliminary investigation revealed that a 15 year-old operator of a dirtbike failed to stop at a stop sign and as a result struck a truck within the intersection (400 Blk S. Smallwood). He was transported to Shock Trauma with life-threatening injuries in critical condition.

For more details on the shootings:

NON-FATAL SHOOTING (DOUBLE)
3/11//11 - 19:35 Hrs
2600 Blk of Hollins Ferry Road
 
Officers responded to the 2400 Blk of Maisel Court for report of a shooting.  Upon arrival they located the victim (B/M - 15 years-old), suffering from a gunshot wound to the hand.  The victim advised that as he was walking within the area of Waterview and Hollinsferry Avenue, he heard at least one gunshot and was struck before fleeing.  As further investigation was being conducted, a second victim "walked-in" to a hospital in south Baltimore.  That victim (B/M - 19 years-old) was suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso.  Further investigation revealed that a large fight had occurred within the 2600 Blk of Hollinsferry Road when a participant began firing, striking the two aforementioned victims.  At last check both individuals were in stable condition.  No word yet on the cause of the fight or if the victims were involved. 
 
NON-FATAL SHOOTING
3/11/11 - 23:25 Hrs
1900 Blk of Walbrook Avenue
 
Officers responded to a shooting call for service.  Upon arrival officers located the victim (B/M - 33 years-old) on the front steps of a location within the 1900 Blk of Walbrook Avenue suffering from a gunshot wound to the neck.  Same was transported to an area hospital for treatment. No word as of yet on condition of the victim, suspect information or possible motive.
 
NON-FATAL SHOOTING
3/12/11 - 1:18 Hrs
1700 Blk of Lombard Street
 
Officers responded to the corner of Lombard and Register Streets for report of a shooting.  Upon arrival they discovered the victim, (Hispanic Male, 27 - years-old) suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso.  Same was transported to an area hospital and at last check was in stable condition.  No word yet on suspect information or possible motive. 
 

March 11, 2011

The Wire's Snoop spars with judge, gets no bail

Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, the high-profile capture from Thursday's sweeping drug bust, battled with a Baltimore judge today in her first court appearance since being charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin.

[Read about Pearson's troubled history]

Here's one exchanged with Judge John Addison Howard, after a prosecutor accused her of helping to bankroll the suspected drug organization (photo of Pearson at left is by The Sun's Kim Hairston).

“I have no money,” she told Judge John Addison Howard. “Check my bank account. I have no money.”

When the prosecutor argued that Pearson travels frequently for her job, the 30-year-old actress angrily shot back, “How can I go anywhere? Everybody knows my name.”

Howard answered that is the precise reason for holding her without bail. “You are a good actress. … Everybody knows your name. People change names. They also can …”

Pearson interrupted: “I can’t change my face.”

“Well, you can change your appearance,” the judge responded. “I’ve seen the episodes of The Wire in which you appear. You look very different than you do here today, and I’m not talking about the jumpsuit, I’m talking about your general appearance.”

More details, and the response from her lawyer, Paul W. Gardner:

Gardner disputed the state’s allegations that his client funded even part of a drug organization. “I find that not credible,” he said. “I can tell you, that’s not her composite makeup. That’s not what she’s about. Any money she would have goes right back into paying her bills and finding her next lead. That’s what she’s focused on.”

Some more details of the case:

More than 450 law enforcement officers raided 39 locations and arrested people charged both federally and by the state. On Friday, a steady-stream of defendants marched through the two courthouses, many being remanded to custody to await trial. Additional bail hearings are scheduled for next week.

The full scope of the alleged organization has yet to be revealed. Nearly all of the suspects were indicted by grand juries and thus there is no statements of probable cause that details the charges. The people brought into state court had bails pre-set, and because they were indicted, they were brought immediately into Circuit Court.

At a news conference on Thursday, authorities outlined a five-month investigation that concentrated on sales and distribution at Latrobe Homes in East Baltimore. They said dealers were active from June 2008 — the year of Pearson’s last appearance on The Wire — through March of this year, and that they used suppliers in New York and California.

All were charged either by state or federal grand juries with conspiracy to distribute heroin and marijuana, possession of heroin and with aiding and abetting a drug organization. On March 3, a week before the drug raids were planned, police arrested two of the alleged conspirators.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:21 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore
        

Homicide commander cleared in accident

The commander of the Baltimore Police Department’s homicide unit will not face criminal charges or be ticketed for abandoning his unmarked cruiser on the side of Interstate 95 after he slid off a rain-slicked road last Sunday, according to the Maryland State Police.

Maj. Terrrence P. McLarney had been suspended after the March 6 incident. A city police spokesman said the commander is now back on partial duty — allowed to run the administrative functions of his 70-detective office, but without his police powers.

Maj. David Engel has been temporarily named the unit’s “operational commander.” McLarney, a 34-year veteran, still faces an administrative review to determine whether he violated departmental rules when he failed to report the accident.

Authorities said that McLarney had been working several weekend homicides and was driving south on I-95 when his cruiser went off an exit ramp to westbound Route 32 and slid down an embankment. Maryland State Police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley said at the time that the 2006 Ford Taurus hit brush and had minor damage to the bumper.

It is a violation to leave the scene of an accident with property damage. But in a statement released Friday, Shipley said McLarney told investigators that a car in front of him began swerving and that he “braked hard and his vehicle began to slide and left the roadway.”

The statement also says that “what was earlier reported as minor damage to the front bumper of the vehicle may have been sustained previously and not when the car left the road.” The statement does not address why McLarney did not report the accident and left his car, which was found hours later by a state trooper.

Shipley said in the statement that Howard County State’s Attorney Dario J. Broccolino reviewed the case and decided against filing charges.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Howard County, Top brass
        

Baltimore police seek woman, infant son

Baltimore police are asking for help in finding a 21-year-old woman who has gone missing with her 4-month-old son. Police said Stephanie Jones, 21, was last seen March 8 about 2:20 p.m. in the 3700 block of Eastern Ave.

Police said Jones may be in the company of a male with dreadlock hair and a woman. She was last seen wearing a royal blue coat, a muti-colored scarf, a blue shirt, dark blue jeans with red Nike sneakers and a purple "Baby Phat" purse.

The woman son is identified as Michael Jones. Anyone seeing Jones and Michael are urged to dial 911.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore
        

Snoop's comeback from the streets leads back

She made it out of despair, poverty, drugs and crime. But if the feds are right, Felicia "Snoop" Pearson's fame was fleeting -- just a bit longer than her role on The Wire as a ruthless killer. The actress who captivated many on the hit show that portrays Baltimore's underworld was arrested Thursday in a sweeping drug sting by city police and the DEA.

The Sun's Justin Fenton, who accompanied the cops on the raids and 63 busts (picture of Pearson at left is by The Sun's Kim Hairston), and Mary Carole McCauley, give eye-opening accounts of yesterday's police actions and a portrait of an actress whose life seems to mirror they very show that gave her a break.

"I thought she was going to have a happy ending," said Pat Moran, a casting director. Pearson had been in trouble before -- she committed murder at the age of 14, and then refused to testify in a stabbing case, and now this.

She had written a book about her troubled life called "Grace Under Pressure," and she had participated in the Stoop Storytelling series in which locals recounted tales from Baltimore before a theater audience. Thursday's drug operation was dubbed "Usual Suspects."

Those who knew Pearson had hoped she would not be one.

Read an account of the drug bust and Felica Pearson's sad trajectory from the streets to the screen and back to the streets. Below is a statement from David Simon, the former Sun reporter who produced The Wire for HBO:

What follows is a personal statement from David Simon, Creator and Executive Producer of "The Wire" (and currently in production on "Treme").

First of all, Felicia's entitled to the presumption of innocence. And I would note that a previous, but recent drug arrest that targeted her was later found to be unwarranted and the charges were dropped. Nonetheless, I'm certainly sad at the news today. This young lady has, from her earliest moments, had one of the hardest lives imaginable. And whatever good fortune came from her role in 'The Wire' seems, in retrospect, limited to that project. She worked hard as an actor and was entirely professional, but the entertainment industry as a whole does not offer a great many roles for those who can portray people from the other America. There are, in fact, relatively few stories told about the other America.

Beyond that, I am waiting to see whether the charges against Felicia relate to heroin or marijuana. Obviously, the former would be, to my mind, a far more serious matter. And further, I am waiting to see if the charges or statement of facts offered by the government reflect any involvement with acts of violence, which would of course be of much greater concern.

Available now -- get the new Baltimore Sun Android app!

In an essay published two years ago in Time Magazine, the writers of 'The Wire' made the argument that we believe the war on drugs has devolved into a war on the underclass, that in places like West and East Baltimore, where the drug economy is now the only factory still hiring and where the educational system is so crippled that the vast majority of children are trained only for the corners, a legal campaign to imprison our most vulnerable and damaged citizens is little more than amoral. And we said then that if asked to serve on any jury considering a non-violent drug offense, we would move to nullify that jury's verdict and vote to acquit. Regardless of the defendant, I still believe such a course of action would be just in any case in which drug offenses -- absent proof of violent acts -- are alleged.

Both our Constitution and our common law guaranty that we will be judged by our peers. But in truth, there are now two Americas, politically and economically distinct. I, for one, do not qualify as a peer to Felicia Pearson. The opportunities and experiences of her life do not correspond in any way with my own, and her America is different from my own. I am therefore ill-equipped to be her judge in this matter.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:51 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Confronting crime, Courts and the justice system
        

March 10, 2011

Police seek theft suspect from Annapolis mall

Anne Arundel County police are asking for help identifying a man who stole jewelry from the Liljenquist & Beckstead jewelry store at the Westfield Annapolis Mall. Police said the man walked in on Wednesday, March 5 about 7:30 p.m. and asked to see some merchandise. He then ran off with jewelry a clerk had handed to him.

The composite picture from above shows the man walking into the mall. Two days later, two gunmen robbed the same store of watches in an afternoon holdup. Anyone with information is urged to call the Anne Arundel County Police Southern District at 410-222-1960.

The suspect is described as a black male about 30 years old weighing 250 pounds and standing about 5 feet 11 inches tall. He has a round face and dark complexion with what police said is a "tribal style symbol" tattooed on the back of his right wrist that extends upwards into his sleeve. He was last seen wearing a navy blue “Polo” sweater, navy blue slacks and a navy blue driving cap with a bill.

For information about a reward:
If you have information on the above incident, please call, email, or text your tip to Metro Crime Stoppers Hotline Available 24-Hours A Day Toll Free at 1-866-7LOCKUP or Text “MCS plus your message” to CRIMES (274637). Phone calls are not recorded and callers remain anonymous. You may also be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000!    
Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:47 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County
        

Wire's 'Snoop' arrested in drug raids

The actress known as 'Snoop' from David Simon's The Wire was among 30 people arrested this morning in a series of raids by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, The Sun's Justin Fenton reports.

Baltimore police, DEA agents and other law enforcement authorities began the raids in the pre-dawn hours, hitting locations in the city and counties in connection with a suspected large-scale heroin operation.

Felicia 'Snoop' Pearson played a street-wise hit-man in the HBO series. As Fenton points out, Pearson "has a troubled past, having been convicted at age 14 of second-degree murder. More recently, she refused to testify as a witness at a murder trial and was arrested at her then-Northeast Baltimore home."

Here's a story on Pearson by The Sun's Tricia Bishop from May last year and a photo by Kim Hairston on Pearson getting arrested this morning:

Nearly five years after he stabbed three people outside a chicken joint on The Block in Baltimore, Steven James Lashley pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder and two counts of assault, agreeing to a 30-year prison term, with half of the time suspended.

City prosecutors had originally proposed a 25-year deal. They changed the offer shortly before trial, after their reluctant star witness - Felicia "Snoop" Pearson of the Baltimore-based crime drama "The Wire" - vowed to invoke a Fifth Amendment right to not testify if forced to take the stand.Police claim said Pearson, a crack-addicted baby convicted of second-degree murder as a teenager and given the role of a boyish hitwoman on the HBO series as an adult, was with Lashley the night of the stabbing.

She clearly was not inclined to testify against him. She failed to show up for an earlier 2008 trial date, leading a judge to issue a warrant for police to pick her up, and for police to charge her with marijuana possession after saying they found "plant material" while serving that warrant. Lashley's trial was postponed, as it would be for many more times, and Pearson was found not guilty of the possession charge.

A recent court affidavit suggested that she might testify that the incident, which allegedly occurred after she and Lashley got into an argument with the three victims, was self-defense. But she instead came into Baltimore Circuit Court on Wednesday morning with her attorney, who informed the parties that Pearson would invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if made to testify.

A new plea deal, approved by the two surviving victims, was on the table for Lashley by the afternoon, a half-day before jury selection was set to begin. Court records show that the trial had been postponed 10 times before this.

With his family looking on, Lashley quietly pleaded guilty and listened as Assistant State's Attorney Amy Donze, who planned to prosecute the case with colleague David Grzechowiak, read a statement of facts into the record.

According to a police report, the victim - two brothers and their friend, Stanley Thomas Jr. - exchanged words with Pearson and Lashley inside a New York Fried Chicken restaurant. They had another encounter down the street, and Lashley stabbed all three of them. The brothers survived; Thomas did not.

Lashley's official sentencing was scheduled for June 2 to allow his family and the victims time to prepare statements.

Pearson's attorney, Bradley Goldbloom, said in a telephone interview afterward that his client is "happy that she is out of it at this point."
Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:02 AM | | Comments (5)
        

March 9, 2011

They showed victim's ID; allowed to use stolen credit card anyway

The central question from people reading about the "Bathroom Bandits," who are charged with stealing credit cards from women at rest-room rest stops, is why merchants don't check IDs of people paying with plastic.

Well, Liz Kay over at the Consuming Interests blog found out from state police that a merchant did ask for an ID. And the suspect complied.

State police spokeswoman Elana Russo told Liz that the purchaser produced the ID stolen from the owner of the credit card and was allowed to make her purchase ... even though the photo on the ID was clearly not of the thief.
Russo said that investigators would appreciate it if more store employees checked IDs before taking credit cards. "It would be bonus if they could verify that somebody's credit card and ID matched the individual," she said.

Here's the irony, according to Liz: merchants violate their agreements with card issuers if they required ID before credit card purchase. For more, and to participate in a poll on whether you agree with this policy, head over to Consuming Interests.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:18 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Harford County
        

Howard Co. man, stabbed last year in SW Balt, dies


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A 22-year-old Howard County man – stabbed last year during a domestic dispute in Southwest Baltimore – died last week, police said.

Charles Hopson, of the 4900 block of Blue Wing Court, was found lying in a driveway of a home in the 1100 block of Cooks Lane on March 31, 2010. He was placed on life support and moved to a nursing home, where he died from his injuries on March 5.

Detective Kevin Brown, a city police spokesman, said police believe the stabbing was domestic-related and investigators have a suspect. The case remains open.

Hopson has no criminal record in Maryland, according to online court records.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:57 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southwest Baltimore
        

Protecting your credit cards from theft

Today's Crime Scenes column on the "Bathroom Bandits" charged with stealing credit cards from women in rest stop rest rooms and going on spending sprees has raised questions from readers about why merchants don't demand identification from customers.

Police say the suspects were able to buy $16,000 in merchandise, such as the mink coats at left (evidence photo from Maryland State Police), with the stolen credit cards. "Asking for ID at the time of purchase would make these crimes go away," one reader commented "I know I always thank the person who asks for my ID when purchasing with a CC."

Liz Kay over at the Consuming Interests blog has an answer: doing so violates agreements between merchants and the card companies, who are reluctant to put up any restrictions on people using cards.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:59 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Harford County
        

Judges hear challenge to convictions in triple murder

The near decapitations of three young children in a Northwest Baltimore rowhouse six years ago stunned the city, and it took two long, painful trials to bring the men responsible to justice. Policarpio Espinosa Perez and Adan Canela are each serving life sentences for killing their three young relatives.

At issue is whether the convicted killers should get a third trial because the judge who presided over their second trial in Baltimore Circuit Court failed to disclose questions from the jury, asked during the trial, to the defense attorneys.

Those defense lawyers argued before the Maryland Court of Appeals on Tuesday that they would've changed trial strategy had they seen the notes. An assistant attorney general argued that  defense lawyers have not shown what new strategies they would've employed.

More details:

There seems little question that Circuit Judge David B. Mitchell erred by not sharing the notes. The question before the court is whether the error is enough to determine the defendants got an unfair trial in the killings of Lucero Espinoza, 8, her brother, Ricardo Espinoza, 9, and their male cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10.

These trials were among the city's most complex and gruesome, requiring months of testimony, witnesses who did not speak English and motives that changed by the day. And a new trial might prove even more difficult -- many of the participants have been deported and another was killed, allegedly by his wife, in Mexico.

A clear motive has never been determined, but ranged from unpaid deaths to help the family cross from Mexico into the United States to a violent domestic dispute  orchestrated by the matriarch as part of an elaborate and sordid plot to avenge her husband's affairs by killing his two children from a previous marriage and his nephew.

State Police bust "Bathroom Bandits"

They hunted down older women from out of state, followed them into the bathrooms of I-95 rest stops and then lifted their credit cards from their purses. In many cases, police said, the victims had no idea they'd been robbed until they had resumed their trip (read more details on the "Bathroom Bandits" from state police).

By that time, police said the suspects arrested this week had gone on spending sprees, buying thousands of dollars of gift cards, two mink coats, lingerie, gasoline, video games and even a $2.76 coffee drink. Some of the credit cards are shown above in a photo from Maryland State Police.

Maryland State Police said they arrested two women and charged them with multiple counts of theft and credit card fraud. The authorities said the suspects pretended to be rest stop workers, guided the victims into bathroom stalls and then distracted them so that another woman in an adjacent stall could steal from their purses.

Arrested were Ishia Biff Cason (seen in the photo), 31, of the 1700 block of Carswell St., and Yvette Andrea Jones, 46, of the 2900 block of Falstaff Road. Each has been charged with multiple counts of theft, credit card fraud and identity theft.

The victims are from the Maryland House in Harford County, but police said they believe the suspects also hit victims at the Chesapeake House in Cecil County and rest stops in New Jersey.

In all, police said the suspects purchased more than $16,000 in merchandise from cards stolen from the three women between December and February.

Police are urging anyone else victimized in this scheme to contact them.

From today's story:

Investigators said the suspects used the stolen credit cards to buy more than $16,000 worth of gift cards and merchandise, going on hours-long shopping sprees that on one day spanned 10 stores from Owings Mills to Baltimore.

Court documents show the suspects had wide range in taste — using an American Express card to purchase a $2.76 Starbucks Frappuccino coffee drink at a pizza shop in Parkville and then heading to Wear’s it at boutique in Reisterstown to pick up two black mink coats, each costing $2,962.

According to police, they bought two Wii computer consoles from a Toys-R-Us in Rosedale, two cans of Pedigree dog food from a Petco in Essex, $85 worth of gas in Parkville, and lingerie from a Victoria’s Secret in Owings Mills. Police described the suspects hitting a string of drug stores on York and Reisterstown roads on one afternoon in January, racking up thousands of dollars in gift card purchases.

 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Harford County
        

March 8, 2011

Raid in area of violence nets 5 guns, 4 arrests for city police


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City police executing a search warrant in a high-crime area of East Baltimore found five illegal handguns and arrested four people, including one who had been charged with illegal handgun possession in January.

Acting on a tip obtained by a patrol officer, police raided a home in the 1700 block of E. 25th St. at about 1 p.m. Tuesday, where they found the guns along with crack cocaine and $500 cash, a spokesman said.

The area, near the border of the Eastern and Northeast police districts, has seen nearly a dozen shootings in recent months, and police said they hope the guns will be linked to some of those cases.

Arrested were Christina Monroe, 19, of the 1700 block of E. 25th St.; Terrell Tucker-Jones, 20, of the 1700 block of Ruxton Ave.; Robert Harris-Howell, 19, of the 1600 block of E. 25th St.; a juvenile who was not identified by police.

Police said two of the defendants were known gang members, and Harris-Howell was charged with handgun and discharging charges in January and released on $50,000 bond. Charges in that case are set for an April 1 trial date in District Court.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:07 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore
        

Annapolis police pulling for "Idol" contestant

Annapolis Police are asking residents to stay indoors - and watch "American Idol." 

The department says one of its officers is a cousin of contestant Pia Toscano, a 22-year-old New York native. With no "Part One" crimes to report from yesterday, part of a general downward trend as The Sun's Andrea F. Siegel reported today, the department took the opportunity to talk up their "Idol" favorite, who is related to Officer Michael Macri, a three-year veteran assigned to the Special Operations Section:

"After it was announced that Pia had received a “golden ticket” to Hollywood the proud officer asked everyone to support Pia in her quest to become the next American Idol.
 
After her performance of the Pretenders song “I’ll Stand by You” Pia received a standing ovation. She has moved on to the final 13 and will perform again tonight at 8:00 p.m.

Please watch American Idol and vote for Pia Toscano."
Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County
        

Court records show 30-year-old charged in teen's stabbing

Court documents show a 30-year-old man has been charged with murder and attempted murder in a weekend stabbing that killed a 17-year-old who police say was defending his sister.

Terrance Sims (above right), of the 200 block of N. Bethel St., was arrested Monday and ordered held without bond at a bail review hearing Tuesday. Police said Monday night that they had no record of the arrest, but it was confirmed through court records. confirmed the arrest this afternoon. Court records show Sims was charged in 2000 with fatally shooting a man at a West Baltimore club, and pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter - receiving five years in prison.

Detective Raymond Yost wrote in charging documents that Sims got into an argument with Rashawnda Gibbs in the 3900 block of W. Garrison Ave. and began to fight with her. Younger brother Ronald Gibbs (below right) tried to help his sister and both of them were stabbed by Sims, Yost wrote.

Gibbs died at Sinai Hospital from multiple stab wounds, while his sister was treated for serious injuries and released Monday. The teenager was a one-time nationally ranked boxer who competed in a national tournament last year and often made the honor roll. He had been watching TV with his sister before the stabbing, according to their father.

Witnesses and suspects identified Sims as the attacker, Yost wrote in court documents.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Northwest Baltimore
        

Pawn shop owner sentenced

The owner of a Baltimore pawn shop will spent nearly four years in prison for laundering money as part of broad scheme that involved auctioning off stolen goods. He is one of more than a dozen defendants, most of whom have pleaded guilty.

The Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office announced the latest chapter on Tuesday when Michael Garonzik, who owned the We Buy pawn shop,was sentenced. Authorities said he bought stolen goods from "boosters," who shoplifted cosmetics, gift cards, DVDs, tools and other items from stores including Target, Safeway, Wal-Mart and Kohl's.

When this story broke last year, I went out to one of the pawn shops and watched the owner and his son clear out. The case had put him out of business, at least for a moment: 

The E-Z Money pawn shop shares a block of West Patapsco Avenue with a vacant storefront, a liquor store and a used furniture shop. "We buy scrap gold coins," the sign out front says. "Top $$$ paid."

The neon sign is turned off, but the lights are on inside, where the elderly owner and his son are busy cleaning empty shelves. The father is going off to federal prison in December, though he doesn't know for how long, and on Tuesday he was busy sprucing up for a new owner.

He was willing to talk — only if his name didn't appear in the newspaper — but all he wants to say is that he was duped into becoming part of a conspiracy he knew nothing about. He pleaded guilty to federal money-laundering charges.

Federal authorities raided his shop in South Baltimore's Brooklyn neighborhood and 11 others in and around city in March, describing them as lucrative fronts for a $20 million scheme using merchandise plundered from stores.

A 104-page search warrant application filed in U.S. District Court details an illicit industry and links local stores such as Cash N A Flash and We Buy to a theft ring that warehoused its inventory and used the Internet and mail to sell items stolen from retail store shelves back to customers "far below retail value."

The business has its own lingo. Shoplifters are called "boosters" or "lifters" and were on "vacation" when locked up. "Cleaning" an item means ripping or burning security labels and retail tags off products.

Pawn shop owners often complain that they can't easily discern stolen items, but in this case federal authorities said they proved the owners and workers knew they were trafficking in shoplifted goods. Detectives spent more than two years working undercover and secretly recording conversations, sending in confidential informants and talking to 40 "boosters."

On Monday, Jerome Ira Stal, 41, described by prosecutors as the ringleader, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to money laundering and could be imprisoned for up to 10 years when he is sentenced in March. Prosecutors say 11 others have already admitted their involvement.

The scheme was simple. Shoplifters stole over-the-counter medicine, movie DVDs, health and beauty products, gift cards and tools from stores like Target, Safeway and Walmart. They then sold the items to pawn shops, getting about 25 cents on the dollar.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system
        

Baltimore County police seek abducted children

UPDATE: Police say the children have been found safe. Prosecutors are reviewing case to determine whether to file criminal charges.

Baltimore County Police are seeking help finding two children who they say were abducted last month by their biological mother. The children were in the custody of their foster mother at the time, police said.

Police identified the children as 7-year-old Tyquan Rashard Wiggins (far right in the picture above), and 3-year-old Shani’ya Lashay Wiggins (center). Police said they were taken Feb. 26 by Dannelle Lynnette Wiggins (seen at far left).

The police said Wiggins and the two children were last seen March 1 near Lexington Market in Baltimore. Authorities have issued a reward:

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Dannelle Lynnette Wiggins or the two missing children is asked to call Baltimore County Police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP (1-866-756-2587).

To text a message to Metro Crime Stoppers, send to "CRIMES" (274637), then enter the message starting with "MCS," or e-mail a tip to Metro Crime Stoppers. Those contacting Metro Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:11 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

Men rob Annapolis Mall jeweler at gunpoint


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Two men armed with handguns robbed a jeweler at the Westfield Annapolis Mall on Monday afternoon, according to Anne Arundel County police.

The daylight  holdup occurred shortly before 4 p.m. at Liljenquist & Beckstead Jewelers. The owner told police that two men inquired about watches in a display case and then pulled out guns and announced a robbery.

"The suspects ordered the male victim to hand over wrist watches from the display case. The victim complied and the suspects fled the store in an unknown direction," police said in a statement. Last summer, three groups of robbers terrorized merchants at Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore. In one robbery, they escaped with $100,000 in jewelry.

For more details and description of the robbers:

According to Anne Arundel County police:

Several officers and a K-9 Unit converged on the area and conducted a thorough search, but were unable to locate the suspects. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact Detective Eric Wills of the Robbery Unit at 410-222-3432 or the Anne Arundel County Police Department at 410-222-8610.  

Suspect #1: Black male in his mid 20’s, approximately 5’10” with a thin build, dark complexion, wearing a dark-colored New York Yankees baseball cap, a black nylon parka and a dark-colored backpack

Suspect #2: Black male in his mid 20’s with a thin build, wearing a dark, green jacket, a dark- colored New York Yankees baseball cap and a dark-colored backpack

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County
        

City police seek missing girl

UPDATE: Baltimore police say patrol officers found the missing girl at 9:40 a.m. today in the 500 block of East 38th St. She was reported safe and unharmed.

Baltimore Police are asking for help finding a missing girl. They describe her as a run-away. Here is a statement and description from authorities:

Faith Seawell, a 12 year-old black female, was last seen yesterday, (Monday, March 11th) at 8:40 PM, within the 3700 Blk of Greenmount Avenue.

She is 5'5" tall and weighs 108 lbs. She was last seen wearing a black coat, pink shirt, blue jeans, and white tennis shoes.

Anyone with information in reference to the above runaway is asked to call the Missing Persons Unit at 443-984-7385 or 911.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:21 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore
        

City prosecutor considering changes in targeting police misconduct

Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein is considering overhauling how his office deals with police misconduct. He pledged to make changes during his campaign; now, he's starting to implement his ideas just as police are dealing with a corruption problem in which 17 officers were charged by federal authorities with taking kickbacks in a towing scheme.

He has already abolished the controversial "do-not-call" list that his predecessor used to keep track of officers she deemed untrustworthy to take the witness stand. Putting a cop on the list was considered a career body-blow in that a cop who can't testify can't be the primary on an arrest. It effectively rendered many on the list to desk jobs.

And Bernstein is considering eliminating a division devoted to police misconduct. The former head of the unit told The Sun's Tricia Bishop that it was important to have a separate group of prosecutors handle cases against police because the office as a whole has to work closely with the department.

Read full details of the changes here.

The troubled history of the police misconduct unit:

The police misconduct unit in the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office has a colorful history, dating back to the days of Ed Norris as police commissioner. His arguments with Bernstein's predecessor, Patricia C. Jessamy, were legendary.

After charging a cop with planting drugs on an innocent man in 2001, Norris and then Mayor Martin O'Malley blew up when Jessamy declined to prosecute, citing problems with the case. Police corruption issues were then handled by the economic crimes unit.

First off, the cop who had been charged hadn't been the first person suspected of wrongdoing. Undercover detectives with internal affairs had been after someone else. They planted a bag of shaved ivory soap on a park bench and called in a drug complaint. An officer responded, picked up the bag and put it in his pocket.

But dispatchers in relaying the fake call also put out a bogus description. It fit that of a man who was breaking into a vacant house near the park. The officer who had picked up the drugs responded and helped a fellow cop arrest the burglar. The officer then charged that man with drug possession, in essence planting the "soap" on him.

But the undercover surveillance team didn't catch any of that. They photographed the officer picking up the drugs, but thought it was a different cop. After a couple of days, they realized the officer they had suspected had not done what they thought he did. They went back and ran reports for all the officer who had responded to the park and found the burglary and drug charge. They pulled the "drugs" the officer had submitted as evidence and found ivory soap.

The case appeared air-tight. But police didn't have solid evidence of the cop planting the "drugs." His lawyers argued that the man arrested in the burglary fit the fake description given out by dispatchers. The surveillance team lost half the photos they  had taken at the park. And then a disgruntled detective, upset at being suspended in a domestic violence incident, broke into a secret police corruption office and ransacked the files.

A person found most of the files, including the one dealing with the officer charged in the drug case, in a trash bin the next day. Needless to say the case was compromised, and Jessamy threw it out. That sent O'Malley into his famous tantrum, accusing her of not having the "goddamn guts to get off her ass and go in and try this case."

The chief prosecutor in the unit then called a radio station and, using a fake name, blasted Norris. The commissioner shot back: "I find it outrageous and ironic and somewhat amusing that the lead prosecutor for police misconduct and integrity disguises her identity to humiliate the Police Department."

A new unit was created to deal with police cases, led by a former attorney in the state prosecutor's office, A. Thomas Krehely. Tricia Bishop talked to him for today's story:

Krehely was brought in from the state prosecutor's office, where he tried former state Sen. Larry Young on bribery and extortion charges. (Young, who was acquitted, was coincidentally represented by Bernstein.)

"We had at least 19 officers indicted while I was there, indicted or charged … which in our view was very successful," Krehely said. "But a lot of it depends on the cooperation you get from the police departments … it's not like we could go out and uncover these issues ourselves."

He called police cases "difficult for local prosecutors to handle because they work closely" with officers. "That's one of the reasons Mrs. Jessamy [created] a separate division with nothing else to do," he said. "I wouldn't be handling typical cases. All I would be doing is prosecuting police officers."

There was also a public relations component to it, Krehely said — sending a direct message to citizens that "police are not going to be able to perform their jobs unchecked."
Now, Bernstein plans to revamp that unit as well.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, Courts and the justice system, Top brass
        

Parkville bar keeps license after stabbing

A Parkville bar where four people were stabbed during a melee in the parking lot last month will remain open, the Baltimore County liquor board has ruled. But members warned the owners to shape up:

"It seems to us we have a problem at this location," said liquor board Chairman Charles E. Klein. But rather than suspend or revoke the Parkville bar's license, the three board members added a requirement for more security guards outside the bar when crowds leave at night. Klein also warned that if violent incidents continue, the board could revoke the license.
The Sun's Jessica Anderson reports that board members were concerned about the number of police calls to Cheers Bar & Grill over the past several years, even though it's been quiet recently, at least up until the stabbings. That included somebody pulling a gun in a Denny's parking lot across the street.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:09 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County, Confronting crime
        

March 7, 2011

Sun exclusive: Man killed by police was informant


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Every month since her brother was shot and killed by police last year, Priscilla Johnson has gone back to the Northwest Baltimore neighborhood where he died to hand out fliers, begging for anyone who saw something to come forward.

What his family knows, gleaned largely from media reports, is that Dennis Gregory was a bystander who was shot by detectives who were aiming for his friend Glenn Brooks. And they know from the autopsy that Gregory was hit four times in the back.

What they didn’t know is that Gregory was acting as a confidential informant that night and that it was his call to police to report that Brooks had a handgun that summoned them to the scene in the first place . The revelation is contained for the first time in court documents filed in federal court late last month and obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

It’s the biggest breakthrough yet in the family’s quest to understand the events of that night. Calls to detectives and visits to police headquarters have gone unacknowledged, and they’ve found little cooperation from the neighborhood.

“A detective came to our house the next day and said, ‘We came to say your brother is dead, and he didn’t suffer,’ and that they were investigating. That’s all we got,” says Johnson, a state employee.

Police declined to comment on the case, saying that the shooting investigation is still open. A spokesman for Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein confirmed that “a final determination about how to proceed has not been made in this matter," though the officers returned to duty about a month later.

The silence in light of the new information only compounds their frustrations, family members say, with Gregory seemingly reduced to nothing more than collateral damage in the war on the drugs – a disposable ex-con who lost his life as helping in the commissioner’s fight against “bad guys with guns.”

In an interview at the Northwest Baltimore duplex where Gregory lived with his parents, his sister and his 18-year-old son, Johnson acknowledged her brother’s long history of troubles with the law but said he had turned a corner years ago. Court records show he was last arrested in 2008. Family members said they were unaware that Gregory was working with police.

There have been no allegations that Gregory made threatening movements toward the officers, or reached into his waistband, or displayed an object that officers mistook for a weapon — all common reasons cited by police for shootings of civilians. The fact that he was shot in the back raises even more questions for relatives.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:53 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Northwest Baltimore, Police shootings
        

Police commander suspended

The Baltimore police commander who heads the homicide unit was suspended today after he abandoned his unmarked cruiser on the side of I-95 near Route 32 in Howard County, city police confirmed. The suspension is described as routine and required because of the active investigation.

Maj. Terrence P. McLarney apparently ran off an exit ramp in Sunday night's rain storm. State Police said his car went into a ditch and there was minor damage to the front bumper. Another motorists called police to report seeing the vehicle off the road.

Why McLarney left the scene and how he got home remains a mystery at this time. City police said they suspended him with pay pending the outcome of the Maryland State Police investigation, and then they'll launch a internal investigation of their own.

More details later on The Sun's web site and in print on Tuesday.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 5:24 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Breaking news, Howard County, Top brass
        

Ravens linebacker's DUI case postponed

From the Ravens Insider blog:

Sergio Kindle's court case for driving under the influence has been postponed because of a scheduling conflict involving his attorney, according to a clerk at the Howard County District Court. No new date has been set yet. He was originally scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.

Kindle was stopped by police just after 4 a.m. on Dec. 26 after an officer observed his vehicle weaving on Route 1 in Savage, police said. According to court records, Kindle smelled of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. He told an officer that he was driving home from a club in DC with friends and had "had a few drinks," records show.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Howard County
        

City police trying to get handle on commercial robberies

Baltimore police commanders are ordering patrol officers to begin checking in with businesses on their posts to soothe concerns as commercial robberies have soared to start the year.

As of Feb. 26, robberies of businesses were up 50 percent, with 96 so far this year compared to 64 at this time last year. The number of commercial robberies involving guns has more than doubled, from 29 last year to 68 this year.

A sample of some recent robberies after the jump:

-On Sunday, at 12:30 p.m., a man in a red hooded sweatshirt was buzzed into the Tiffany Mart at 1851 W. Fayette St., implied he had a weapon, and demanded cash. Still buzzed into the store and unable to get out, he kicked out a plexiglass window and fled.
-Also on Sunday, at about 10:45 p.m., officer were called to the 3200 block of Eastern Avenue to the S/J Food Market where employees reported a man armed with a revolver asked for Newport cigarettes and then point the weapon at them, demanded the cash in the drawer.
-On Monday morning, at 10:45 a.m., an officer was flagged down by an employee who said a man stealing items from the Dollar General in the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Ave. The officer was able to chase and apprehend the suspect, who had previously been banned from the store for shoplifting. On this occasion, he was trying to steal Airwick refills.

"We want to be talking to owners, to make sure their concerns are being met," chief spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. He said officers will try to make recommendations where appropriate to help business owners make security improvements.

Statistics show the district with the biggest year-over-year increase so far is the Southwestern District, which has recorded 16 commercial robberies this year compared to just one at this time last year. 
Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:15 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Southwest Baltimore
        

Police: Teen killed over weekend was defending sister

UPDATE: Court records indicate a 30-year-old man has been charged in the killing and was being held without bond, but police said they could not confirm that information.

Police said the 17-year-old who was fatally stabbed early Sunday morning in Northwest Baltimore was intervening in a dispute between his sister and a man.

The victim was identified as Ronald T. Gibbs, a boxer who reached the quarterfinals in the 2010 National PAL Championship in San Antonio and had Olympic aspirations. Marvin McDowell, president of the state’s amateur boxing association, said Gibbs, known as “Rock,” was at one point was ranked in the top 10 in the country.

“It’s a life wasted,” McDowell said. “The boy was so talented. He had a future, and just like that, his life is over. It’s senseless.”

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said at a Monday morning briefing that Gibbs' 20-year-old sister was arguing with a man and Gibbs came outside after hearing a commotion. Both of them were stabbed by the man, who fled.

Guglielmi said police were “optimistic” on some leads in the investigation, but no arrest had been made and he could not confirm a motive.

Gibbs attended Carver Vocational Technical High School and was in the Class of 2011, according to his Facebook page.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:32 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Northwest Baltimore
        

The criminal history of Ellerson Carter

Police have charged Ellerson Carter, 55, with second-degree murder and related charges in the killing of George Marshall, a landscaping wholesaler who police say was run over when he tried to stop Carter from breaking into a vehicle on his South Baltimore warehouse property. 

Not surprisingly, Carter has a long record of similar incidents, with a slew of criminal convictions for theft, burglary and car theft dating back to the late 1980s and is currently on probation. None of them turned deadly like Saturday's incident, however.  

Here's a snapshot of his record from available online court records:

2008:

Drug possession - Guilty - 1 day
Theft under $500 - charges dropped*
Drug possession - Guilty - 4 years, with all but 3 years, 9 months and 13 days suspended, followed by 3 years of supervised probation.

2006:

Burglary, theft - Guilty - 18 months
Theft - Charges dropped

2004:

Unauthorized removal of vehicle - Guilty - 3 years

2003:

Burglary - guilty - 6 months

1997:

Theft - felony - Guilty - 3 years
Theft - guilty - 5 year, with all but 4 years, 8 months suspended, plus 4 years of supervised probation. He was found to have violated that probation and the judge imposed a four year prison sentence with no time suspended.

*Charge was in Baltimore County

Safe Surrender program ends

When the U.S. Marshal's Safe Surrender program rolled through Baltimore last summer, the city's law enforcement community jumped at the opportunity to clear their books of old cases. Tens of thousands of people were wanted on old arrest warrants; the amnesty program of seemed a sure way of helping out.

About a 1,000 people took advantage -- coming to a city church (at left, in a photo by The Sun's Kim Hairston) and meeting with prosecutors, who either dropped the cases or got the suspects together with lawyers and in front of a judge for an immediate hearing. It was designed for nonviolent offenders, many with cases so old that witnesses and case files had all but disappeared.

Now, there's a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the feds are pulling the plug on the program, which police departments all over the country had joined, resulting in 34,000 fugitive surrenders in 20 cities. Officials told the newspaper that Safe Surrender didn't fit the agency's mission of targeting violent offenders.

For more details:

You could argue that clearing the books of old files frees up cops everywhere to concentrate on the criminals who matter. Here's part of reporter Justin Fenton's story on one of the surrender days at New Metropolitan Baptist Church:

For nearly four years, Nakia Parrine had difficulty getting a job to support her family. Wanted on minor drug charges, she said she constantly looked over her shoulder, aware that any interaction with police might result in her arrest and hours at Central Booking.

But in less than a few hours Wednesday, that was all behind her. As part of a program called Safe Surrender, she turned herself in, was booked, faced a judge, had the charges dropped and began the expungement process."Dismissed!" Parrine, 26, told her brother over a cell phone after public defender Cynthia Christiani informed her that the charges had finally been cleared.

"I've been on pins and needles all this time," Parrine said. "It worked out for me. It's a blessing."

And I stumbled on this tale:

Diana Pilleris said Jeff Cupp broke into her apartment and stole $200. Baltimore police arrested him, charging him with burglary and destruction of property, and he spent three days in the city jail.

The day after he posted bail, Cupp jumped on an airplane and flew to Germany with his girlfriend. He failed to appear for his trial, and a judge promptly issued a warrant seeking his arrest.That was Sept. 15, 1981.

The warrant was never served, and most of the paperwork appears to have been lost. But the basics of the case linger in court computer systems. And Cupp, who now lives in Munich, wants to return to America for his mother's 80th birthday.

But he said in a telephone interview Thursday that he's scared to come back as a fugitive from justice. "I don't want to spend any time in jail," the 51-year-old program manager for a German Internet company said. "It was unpleasant."

March 6, 2011

Garden industry recalls hit-and-run victim

Friends recalled garden supply wholesaler and Catonsville resident George Marshall as a hard-working business owner who spent the last three decades selling his line of clay and gazed containers to Mid-Atlantic patio and landscaping businesses, The Sun's Jacques Kelly reported.

Marshall, 57, died Saturday afternoon at his Southwest Baltimore warehouse when he was hit by a truck that police said was driven by a man trying to steal goods from the landscaping business. Also injured in the incident was his brother, Jack Marshall, 59, who is expected to recover, city police spokesman Det. Jeremy Silbert said.

The two Marshall brothers owned and operated Patapsco Valley Sales and Supply, one of the area's oldest wholesalers of decorative gardening containers.

"George was the salesman. He did the shows and would call on the customers. His brother ran the warehouse," said Jan Hull, an employee who lives in Arlington, Va. "George would be in at 4 in the morning to make sure the trucks went out with the right orders. He was well liked and extremely accommodating to his customers."

Marshall was recalled as an adroit salesman who was at ease calling on roadside markets to sell his Halloween novelties, such as scarecrows, as well as high-end restaurants and wedding planners to sell imported glazed jardinières.

"He had an incredible work ethic. He was also a wonderful man," said J. Carroll "Jake" Boone, a Bolton Hill-based party planner and florist. "There was nothing he wouldn't do to help you."

Family members said the two Marshall brothers started their business in 1977 in their parents' Beechfield garage on Cedargarden Road. They later moved to a Sharp Street warehouse in South Baltimore.

The brothers drove to Florida and brought back terra cotta and glazed ceramic pots that were becoming popular for container gardens on patios and apartment balconies. Over the years, they expanded their business and required larger warehouses to hold their inventory. They also issued annual catalogs of their wares, which also included wire trellises for vines.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 8:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: South Baltimore
        

17-year-old killed in double-stabbing incident


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Police say a 17-year-old boy was killed in a double-stabbing in Northwest Baltimore early Sunday morning. His identity was not immediately released. Police spokesman Jeremy Silbert said the 17-year-old and a 20-year-old woman are believed to have been in the 5000 block of Nelson Ave., a residential area not far from a commercial strip along Belvedere Ave, at about 2:30 a.m. when they got into a dispute with an unknown man who stabbed them and fled. The teen was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he died as a result of his injuries. Detectives were investigating and asked anyone with information to call 410-396-2100.

The killing marks the second slaying of a juvenile in Baltimore this year, the other a New Year's Day shooting in East Baltimore that killed 16-year-old Marquise Hall.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:13 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Northwest Baltimore
        

23-year-old man killed in Southwest Baltimore home invasion


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paulsimonsIII.JPG

Here's a quick update on a home invasion killing from last night from police, and a comment from the fire union how the Fire Department's rotating closures of fire houses might have affected the response to the incident.

From police:

At 9:08pm last night we responded to the 200 block of N Hilton St where we found Paul Simons 3rd (DOB 6/20/87) suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to shock trauma where he later died from his injuries. Our preliminary investigation has revealed that just after 9pm, three armed suspects entered a home in the 200 block of N Hilton St. The suspects took various property from the individuals inside of the home. The victim arrived at the home a short time later and attempted to flee after seeing the armed suspects. At least one suspect shot the victim as he was trying to flee. Detectives are still investigating and this is only the preliminary info.

From the fire union:

Around 9pm tonight, a man was shot in the 200 block of N Hilton Street, west Baltimore. He didn't know that today, because the Baltimore City Fire Department is not adequately funded, the closest unit available to help him was closed. Engine 30 (3220 Frederick Ave) was one of 2 units closed to save money today. Sadly, the other unit in that station, truck 8, was already on an emergency response. When this man was shot, he had to wait for engine 14 to come from 1908 Hollins St, over 1 mile farther than engine 30s station. Is that fair to him? He didn't ask for engine 30 to be closed. The Mayor and City Council gambled with his life. 

This horrible story comes on the heels of multiple serious fires this past week where the closest engine was closed:

3/3 700blk Winston Av, 2 alarm fire, E4 closed

3/3 600blk S Monroe St, 1 alarm fire, 1 injured FF & 1 injured civilian, E55 closed

3/5 5000blk Pembridge Av, 1 alarm fire, 1 civilian rescued and injured, E29 closed

NOBODY WINS IN FIREHOUSE ROULETTE!  PLEASE FUND THE BALTIMORE CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT!

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:25 AM | | Comments (3)
        

Arrest in warehouse worker's death

Police said they have made an arrest in the hit-and-run killing of a warehouse worker struck as the suspect attempted to flee a car break-in attempt. Detectives have charged Ellison Carter, 55, of the 2200 block of Annapolis Road, with murder, various assault charges, and burglary. 

The victim was identified as George Marshall, 57. We'll have more on this story later today. 

Carter's recent criminal record includes drug, theft and car theft arrests. In 2004, he pleaded guilty and received three years in prison for an unauthorized removal of a vehicle charge. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:16 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: South Baltimore
        

A gun range a the Ritz-Carlton?

Here's a new one for us. Somone who lives in a penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton overlooking the Inner Harbor appears interested in building a single-lane indoor firing range. Immediate attention focused on the most famous resident of the Key Highway luxury condos -- author Tom Clancy.

We couldn't confirm it's him, though a local architect has been hired by a design company in New York who wouldn't divulge the name of the client. And Clancy does own a string of six condos on the penthouse level of one of the buildings, giving him 17,000 square feet of living space.

City officials are racing to see if such a thing is possible under various zoning laws, and we won't even discuss how the local condo board will react. And of course the story has generated more than a couple dozen comments since it appeared on line Friday, with many people wondering why somone needs an indoor firing range when all of Baltimore seems to qualify.

Read the complete story.

 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:11 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: South Baltimore
        

Warehouse worker killed trying to stop burglary


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Two workers at a Southwest Baltimore warehouse heard some noise Saturday afternoon. They went to investigate and apparently stumbled on a burglary in progress. Trying to stop it got one of them killed.

Police told The Sun's Jessica Anderson on Saturday that Marshall and a co-worker confronted the suspect at their warehouse on Hollins Ferry Road as he tried to break into a truck. The man got into his own truck and drove off, dragging the co-worker and striking and killing Masrshall.

We'll have more on this story later today and in Monday's print edition.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southwest Baltimore
        

March 4, 2011

Teen arrested in Baltimore County home invasion


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An update on yesterday's home invasion in Pikesville, courtesy of Baltimore County Police:

Baltimore County Police have arrested and charged Deondre M. Pedersen, 15, of the unit-block of Neptune Court, 21234. He is charged with the March 3, home invasion of a house in the 6500-block of Liberty Road, 21207.

On March 3, at approximately 4:48 p.m., a Baltimore County police officer was flagged down by the victim in this case. The victim told the officer that three suspects armed with a handgun forced their way into his residence. The victim fought off the suspects and was able to escape from the house. Police responded and searched the residence which revealed that the suspects had fled the scene in an unknown direction. Police detectives initiated an investigation that led to the arrest of Deondre Pedersen.

The suspect, Deondre Pedersen, has been waived to adult status. He is charged with attempted first-degree murder, armed robbery, the use of a handgun in a felony, first-degree assault and burglary. He is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $500,000 bail.

Baltimore County Police continue to search for two other suspects in this case. Police are asking anyone with information about this incident or the suspects’ identities to call Baltimore County Police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP (1-866-756-2587). To text a message to Metro Crime Stoppers, send to "CRIMES" (274637), then enter the message starting with "MCS," or e-mail a tip to www.metrocrimestoppers.org. Those contacting Metro Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

Feds: tractor trailer used to transport drugs from Ariz. to Baltimore

New court documents outline an alleged marijuana pipeline that funneled drugs from Mexico and Arizona into Baltimore County on a tractor trailer driven by a man nicknamed "The Russian."

In a complaint for forfeiture, federal authorities say they want to seize a 2004 Peterbilt tractor trailer used by a man named Dmytro Holovko who is accused of being a courier for a drug trafficking organization that has been in operation since 2000. The documents outline how the truck was once pulled over in Arizona, carrying six vehicles, one of which had $250,000 in cash stuffed into compartments.

The scheme allegedly involved Holovko and others transporting marijuana on trucks from Arizona to a spot on Liberty Road, and cash proceeds of sales were shipped back to Arizona where it was used to pay Mexican suppliers and to purchase additional marijuana. On one occasion, a source told agents, he loaded 38 boxes of marijuana into a vehicle. Each box weighed 25 pounds. 

The truck was seized in New Jersey on Feb. 16, after the defendants were indicted. The alleged leader is Jean Brown, whose age and address are not provided in court documents. In addition to Brown and Holovko, Hubert Downer, Tamara Henry and Robert Henry were also indicted on drug charges.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:28 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

Candlelight vigil Friday night for transgender murder victim

There will be a candlelight vigil tonight for Anthony "Tyra" Trent, the transgender woman who was found asphyxiated inside a vacant building in Northwest Baltimore last month. The death sent shockwaves through the transgender community, which is organizing a vigil that begins at 6:30 p.m. at East North Avenue and North Charles Street. 

Here's the schedule of events for the vigil, from a Facebook page that has more than 150 RSVPs:

AT: 6:30pm VIGIL MOMENT OF SILENCE

AT: 6:40PM-7:00PM COMMUNITY EXPRESSION: FRIENDS AND FAMILY SPEAK OUT

AT: 7:00 PM WE WILL HAVE WORDS OF INCOURGEMENT FROM MEMBERS OF POWER INSIDE 

AT 7:10PM A WORD OF FAITH AND LOVE: ANTHONY McCARTHY

AT 7:20 PM PRESENTING OF OFFERING TO FAMILY: CARLTON SMITH

AT 7:30 PM LIGHTING CANDLES OF HOPE

AT 7:40 PM A WORD OF COMMUNITY: SANDY RAWLS

AT 7:45 PM SONGS OF FAITH: POSITIVE VOCIES OF BALTIMORE

Any type of donations for candles and other related materials would be greatly appreciated.
Please get in contact by facebook with Aeon Farr for further information. 
(Call 443-447 3238)

There will be a small offering at the vigil to help the family out in their time of need, so please give what ever you can, no amount is too small.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:13 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Woman accuses former Baltimore city council president of stalking, theft

A woman who says she is the ex-girlfriend of former City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III is accusing him of stalking her and repeatedly breaking into her home, court records show.

Bell, a Democrat who spent 12 years on the council and lost the 1999 election for mayor, has been charged with third-degree burglary, theft less than $1,000, telephone harassment and stalking. The charges were filed by Shan Mabry, who said she has known and dated Bell for 20 years.

Reached for comment Thursday night, Bell (seen in this Sun photo from 1999) declined to speak on the record. Mabry could not be reached for comment.

The charges were approved by a District Court commissioner on Sunday, after Mabry, 49, sought a peace order against Bell, 49, for the second time in six months.


Bell entered the 1999 mayoral campaign as the frontrunner and boasted a war chest of more than $1 million, but lost the Democratic primary to Martin O'Malley after a series of high-profile missteps and revelations about personal financial troubles.

Shortly after his defeat, Bell dropped out of public view and spent time in Atlanta. He made attempted to return to local politics in 2006, joining a crowded field for a West Baltimore state senate seat that went to Catherine Pugh.

Beginning in August 2009, Mabry, of the 3400 block of College Ave., says that Bell, of the 3300 block of Auchentoroly Terrace, began breaking into her home, which she says was captured on security cameras – although she says he destroyed those tapes.

In a four-page complaint, she also cites numerous dates when she says Bell harassed her, and accuses him of “cyber stalking” and scratching her 54-inch television during one alleged break-in. He stole tools, computer equipment and a $700 pair of prescription sunglasses from her in October 2010, she claims.

For the full story, click here.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: City Hall
        

Police make flurry of gun arrests

Baltimore police this morning announced several gun arrests, part of a campaign against violence just as state lawmakers continue to debate harsher penalties for gun offenders in Annapolis. Bill are winding through various committees but it's tough going for city officials.

A debate last month before a friendly house committee ran into harsh questions from some lawmakers who feared legal gun owners who make innocent mistakes -- like Ed Hale forgetting about his gun at BWI Airport -- could be sent to prison for long periods of time.

City leaders, including prosecutors and cops, say their proposals target violent illegal gun offenders on city streets, and won't touch a legally permitted gun owner who might forget to store his weapon properly while driving to a firing range.

The debate continues to frustrate Baltimore's City Hall. They  have a web site called Safer City Baltimore where you can track the legislation, read their statistics and study the exact language in the bills. You can also watch two videos, one featuring the mayor and the police commissioner talking about repeat gun offenders.

Baltimore police this morning listed on Twitter the following gun seizures:

* A search warrant in the 1700 block of Druid Hill Avenue led to the seizure of a .22 caliber revolver and to six arrests.

* A 911 call led police and SWAT members to the 5500 block of Mayview, where officers arrested one person and confiscated a 9mm "Tec-9" firearm.

* Police in the 1400 block of Woodall St. arrested one person and seized a 12-gauge shotgun.

* A search of a rowhouse in the 100 block of South Mount St. led to the seizure of a .22 caliber handgun.

Here are some stats from Safer City Baltimore:

The Facts on Tougher Sentencing for Illegal Gun Possession

This legislation would amend state laws that criminalize wearing, carrying and transporting a handgun (4-203) and restrictions on the possession of a regulated firearm by prohibited persons (5-133) by creating a mandatory, minimum sentence of 18 months and maximum sentence of 10 years for those persons who are arrested with an illegal, loaded firearm.

Statistics from Baltimore’s Gun Offender Registry show that very few offenders charged with misdemeanor gun crimes serve significant jail time.

    * Eighty-two percent of all jail time imposed by Baltimore’s Criminal Courts for gun offenders charged with these crimes this year was suspended.
    * The average amount of jail time served by misdemeanor gun offenders is four months.

The people police arrest today with loaded guns in their cars or on their waistbands are the same people who go on to shoot and kill and rob others.

    * Forty percent of Baltimore’s homicide suspects and defendants charged with felony gun crimes – shootings, attempted murders, armed robberies – have prior gun arrests.
    * On May 11, 2008, Charles McGaney was arrested in Baltimore County and charged with being a minor in possession of a firearm. On August, 5, 2008, he pled guilty, was sentenced to time served and released. Less than six weeks later, on September 20, 2008, former City Councilman Ken Harris was shot and killed in a robbery at New Haven Lounge in Northwood Shopping Center . McGaney was recently convicted of the robbery and felony murder of Ken Harris and received a life sentence.
    * Timothy Rawlings was found guilty of a handgun violation involving a loaded gun on May 19, 2008 and sentenced to 2 years with 1 year and 11 months suspended and 18 months probation. He was released that day. Twelve days later, he was arrested for attempted first degree murder with a handgun.
    * Antonio Stokes was found guilty of a handgun violation involving a loaded gun on March 18, 2008 and sentenced to 3 years with 2 years and 10 months suspended and three years of probation. He was released that day. Three months later, he was arrested for armed robbery.
    * Caeser Rice was arrested on August 27, 2009 with a loaded .357 Magnum handgun. On October 7, 2009, he pled guilty and received a sentence of 3 years of which 2 years, 10 months and 11 days were suspended. On May 4, 2010, he was charged with committing another armed robbery and illegally possessing a loaded gun.
    * James Queen was arrested on April 8, 2009 for being a minor in possession of a firearm. He was convicted on June 16, 2009 and received a sentence of 3 years with 2 years and 6 months suspended and 3 years of probation. He was arrested again on November 14, 2009 in Baltimore County for attempted robbery with a handgun.

In 2006, New York State passed a similar law and quickly saw results. The New York law reclassified the offense of carrying an illegal, loaded firearm as a felony with a 3 ½ year minimum sentence.

    * In 2007, New York City posted a 17% reduction in homicides – the lowest number in more than 40 years.
    * In 2008, murders by gun dropped by 10%.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:40 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Confronting crime
        

City officer will not be charged in fatal accident

A Baltimore police officer involved in a pursuit and a fatal crash on I-83 will not be criminally charged, Baltimore County prosecutors said on Thursday. The ruling comes despite an investigator's report that says the officer had been ordered to stop the chase.

The Sun's Nick Madigan reports:

In a letter to the state police's crash reconstruction team, which investigated the July 25, 2010, incident, the prosecutor's office said there was not "sufficient evidence to sustain charges of manslaughter by automobile" against the officer, Timothy E. Beall, a 10-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department who had pursued the motorcycle from the city into the county after concluding that it had been racing with a car on Northern Parkway.
City police are still conducting an internal review of the incident, which occurred in July of last year. The complete story can be found here.
 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:29 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Baltimore County, North Baltimore, Top brass
        

Human trafficking arrests in Arundel

Police responding to the pleas of parents concerned about their 19-year-old daughter uncovered what authorities described as a prostitution ring being run out of a motel room in Anne Arundel County.

The parents had contacted police after receiving text message from the young woman that she was being held against her will. Police found the woman and concluded she was a willing participant, but that the people allegedly running the operation refused to return her to New Jersey, where she was from.

Authorities who went into the Linthicum room said they found the 19-year-old, along with three other adults. "Officers observed two, partially smoked marijuana blunts in the room," the police said.

"Further investigation revealed that the male suspect was controlling the prostitution operation and that he brought the females to the hotel for express purpose of prostitution," police said in a statement. "Additionally, the suspect was utilizing the internet and the website Backpage.com to solicit customers for the females."

Here's a list of suspects (shown from left to right in the mug shots above)

Edward N. Perkins, 26, of Jersey City, N.J., was charged with possession of marijuana, nine counts of human trafficking, three counts of profiting from prostitution business and prostitution by any means.

Nkosazana Zari Adebamgbe, 18, of Philadelphia, was charged with possession of marijuana.

Johnisha Ne-Cole Harris, 19, of Willingboro, N.J., was charged with possession of marijuana.

Brittni Crabill, 20, of Philadelphia was charged with possession of marijuana.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:09 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County
        

March 3, 2011

Tracking addiction

Urbanite Magazine has an interesting piece on local research underway to track the experiences of the city's drug addicts. Here's an excerpt, from author Michael Corbin's article:

Epstein, along with lead investigator Dr. Kenzie L. Preston and biostatistician Ian Craig, are literally mapping the ecology of addiction in Baltimore. That mapping begins by providing drug users who have sought out-patient treatment at the NIDA clinic with a Palm Pilot PDA. The drug users are sent on their way and randomly prompted by the PDA to answer questions about their mood, their stress level, and cues in their environment that may lead to relapse. They also activate the PDA when they are tempted to reuse or if they get high. In addiction research, this type of repeated sampling of subjects’ behaviors and experiences in real time, in the real world, is called “ecological momentary assessment,” or EMA. The technique has greatly enhanced the study of tobacco addiction, Epstein says, but “it has rarely been attempted in individuals with cocaine or heroin addiction.”

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:38 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Investigation pending in accident that critically injured bicyclist

City police are stressing that the investigation into an accident that critically injured a Johns Hopkins University student who was riding a bicycle near campus is still pending. Nathan Krasnopoler, 20, was hospitalized after being struck Saturday by a vehicle being driven by an 83-year-old woman.

Police have received numerous inquiries from citizens and city officials about a report in which a police spokesman said charges were not likely to be filed, which the department's chief spokesman now says was premature. The Accident Investigation Unit is reviewing the accident and will deliberate with city prosecutors before deciding whether charges or citations should be filed.

"That does not mean charges will or will not be filed, but these things unfortunately take time," said spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. "Frankly, they need some help from witnesses."

Baltimore's cycling community is planning a "Support Ride" next Wednesday at the spot where Krasnopoler was hit. 

The student was riding his bike in a marked bike lane on West University Parkway at the intersection with West 39th Street when he was hit by a vehicle trying to turn right, police have said. When officers arrived, Krasnopoler was trapped under the vehicle, according to a police report. The Baltimore Brew web site reported that Krasnopoler’s father, Mitchell Krasnopoler, has been offering updates on his son’s  condition on Nathan’s Facebook page.

“Nathan has made some progress. Although Nathan is still unconscious, he is now responding to his nurse fussing with him: he is moving his legs and head, and even opening one eye,” Krasnopoler wrote.

“The doctors removed his sedation. Nathan is initiating his breathing on his own. Although his movements are not purposeful, he is r…responding to some stimuli. We hope that Nathan will soon respond to requests (“squeeze my hand,” etc.),” he reported.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:29 PM | | Comments (25)
Categories: North Baltimore
        

Man arrested in Pikesville bank holdup

Baltimore County police officers quickly arrested a man who held up a bank Thursday morning in Pikesville using a fake bomb, according to authorities.

Police said the man walked into a Bank of America branch in the 2800 block of Smith Ave. shortly after 9 a.m., approached a teller and demanded money. Police said in a statement that the man “told the teller that he had a bomb.”

The teller handed over an undisclosed amount of money and the man left the bank. While in the parking lot, police said the dye packs from the money “exploded inside the suspect’s bag.”

Bystanders told police which way the man had run and officers had him in custody with 20 minutes of the holdup. Police said he was found hiding, but they didn’t disclose other details. Police said the bomb was a hoax.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:54 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County, Breaking news
        

Man shot in 92 becomes latest city homicide

A man shot and made a paraplegic at an East Baltimore carryout in 1992 died in January, and the state Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide this week, making the two-decade old case the city’s 26th slaying of 2011.

There are several so-called time-delayed deaths in Baltimore each year and they’re added to the city’s homicide count when ruled homicides. In this case, a suspect had been arrested at the scene but found not criminally responsible of attempted first-degree murder. If he’s still alive, he cannot be charged in the death.

Detective Donny Moses, a police spokesman, said James Fields, Jr., 47, of Gwynn Oak, died Jan. 5 at Northwest Medical Center. He said a medical examiner ruled Tuesday that he died of pneumonia brought by a prolonged stay in bed — a direct result of the shooting 19 years ago.

For more details:

Police said Fields had been talking with the owner of the carryout, in the 1900 block of Greenmount Ave., when the owner’s son “without warning” opened fire. Moses said other customers were inside at the time, but Fields was only person struck by bullets.

Fields was hit repeatedly in the right shoulder and as a result lost the use of his legs. Moses said the gunman fired from a five-shot revolver, and emptied the gun. “Witness said he continued to pull the trigger even after dispelling all the rounds,” Moses said.

A motive was unclear but Moses said police arrested Hercules Thomas, of the 900 block of N. Calvert St., and charged him with attempted first-degree murder and handgun violations. The suspect was 54 at the time of the shooting; he would 73-year-old today.

Court records show that Thomas was tried but found not criminally responsible by a jury, and sent to Clifton T. Perkins, a state psychiatric hospital. It could not be learned what happened to Thomas in later years.

Ruling Fields’ death a homicide pushes the city’s slaying numbers as of Thursday to 26, one more than at this time last year.

Child advocate: why is neglect legal?

Adam Rosenberg, director of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, will be testifying in Annapolis today in favor of child abuse legislation and sent out this statement this morning:

In Maryland, it is a crime to neglect an animal, but it is not a crime to neglect a child.  Maryland is currently the only state in the country that has not passed legislation making child neglect a criminal act.  This legislative session, the governor has an important bill on his agenda, the Criminal Child Neglect Bill HB962/SB757 which, if passed, will make child neglect a crime.  The bill includes careful language to exclude cases where neglect is a result of poverty or an isolated accident.

Child neglect is a serious national issue and unfortunately is not going away.   Children who experience abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as juveniles, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit a violent crime. Moreover, 30% percent of abused and neglected children will go on to abuse their own child.  According to experts, neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment in the United States.

STATEMENT: “It is illegal to neglect an elderly person or a pet, but Maryland is the only state in the United States where child neglect is not considered illegal. Frankly, it’s outrageous.  It’s a crime that neglect is not a crime.  For the last several years Baltimore Child Abuse Center and other agencies have been working to protect children in Maryland, and this Thursday is a hearing in the House on these issues.  It is time to hold neglectful parents accountable and recognize the impact child abuse has on our children’s futures.”

Posted by Justin Fenton at 8:38 AM | | Comments (2)
        

Two Perry Hall students charged with bringing gun to school

Two Perry Hall High School students have been charged with bringing an unloaded gun to school. The Sun's Liz Bowie reported today that a fellow student tipped off a teacher, who reported it to police. A school resource officer found the weapon in a bag.

Authorities do not believe there was any intent to harm anyone.

Also in Baltimore County, two people were reportedly shot and wounded Wednesday night in Woodlawn. The victims were shot in the legs.

UPDATE FROM COUNTY POLICE: 

On March 2 at approximately 10:45 p.m., officers were dispatched to the 1900-block of Winder Road, 21244 in Precinct 2/Woodlawn. Upon arriving at the location, officers found two individuals, a 26-year-old male and a 48-year-old female, each with a gunshot wound to the leg. The male victim was transported to Shock Trauma and the female victim was transported to Sinai Hospital.  Both victims were in critical condition.  

Investigators determined that the victims were shot after an argument with multiple suspects that occurred outside the location. There are no suspect descriptions at this time.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County
        

March 2, 2011

Howard police chase, arrest suspected bank robber

Howard County police chased a bank robbery suspect wearing a long blond wig on Wednesday and retrieved an envelope containing cash from the bank, according to authorities.

Police said they charged Dallas Kenneth Jacobs, 44, of Hanover, with robbery and other charges. Police said the holdup occurred at the Sandy Spring Bank on Lisbon Center Drive shortly before 11 a.m.

From Howard County Police:

Bank employees told police the suspect had entered the bank, approached a teller and displayed a note demanding cash. The suspect did not show or imply a weapon. The teller complied, and the suspect fled. Employees followed the suspect to the parking lot and described his vehicle to police as a bright yellow Jeep Wrangler. The suspect was described as wearing a red hat, long blond wig, leather jacket and jeans.

Officers set up on I-70 and soon spotted a vehicle matching the description traveling eastbound. An officer attempted to stop the vehicle utilizing lights and sirens, but the suspect refused to stop and led police on a pursuit onto Md. 32 eastbound.

After a brief pursuit, the vehicle came to a stop, and the suspect was taken into custody without incident. Officers searched the vehicle and seized the clothing described by bank employees, as well as an envelope containing cash from the bank.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:36 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Howard County
        

Man who lost court case explains his gun permit

Today's Crime Scenes takes a look at Ed Hale, the banking executive who got caught bringing a loaded gun to BWI, and was allowed to keep his permit after accepting probation before judgment, and Anthony McLean, who lost a bid before the state's second highest court to keep his permit despite having been convicted of a misdemeanor crime in 1983.

The column details the legal back and forth. Bottom line is that you have to be convicted of a crime for which the penalty is greater than two years in order for you to lose your permit. Hale's crime carried a maximum 90 days in jail.

When McLean was convicted in 1983 of breaking and entering, the maximum penalty was six months. But state lawmakers upped the maximum to three years in the 1990s. McLean argued the new penalties should only apply to new permit holders; he had a permit for years before the state police took away his permit because of the old conviction.

This morning, a reader posed this question:

I was wondering how Anthony McLean received his permit in the first place. As you know, Maryland is very strict issuing permits. My Father is a retired FBI Agent and received a permit. His friend who also was a retired FBI agent, was denied. I can understand how Mr. Hale was issued a permit, but you didn’t address if  Mr. Mclean had a legitimate need for one. I assume when you say permit, you mean a carry permit.
A few minutes later I got an e-mail from McLean. Here is his side of the story in his own words:

Peter,

Thank you for printing this story. I would like to give you more insight for your reporting pleasure if you so desire to continue with this story line .

This story is bigger than ME, and should be reported to the people of Maryland.

This case is much larger than it appears. This case is about protecting Maryland and other states back door attempts to disarm its citizens. I had a permit for 6 years, I have Class III weapons and other regulated weapons approved by the MSP and ATF over the last 25 years.  Two months before the renewal of my permit was denied I was granted a Collectors License in Md.  This allows one to purchase more than ONE regulated weapon at a time without the waiting period.  Several weeks before my renewal I was permitted to purchase a handgun.  

Now any regulated weapon I own makes me a criminal because the same guidelines that regulates permits, is also used for handguns, Class II & III weapons. By default If I cannot have a permit I cannot own regulated weapons. The brief by the appellate court ignored this important fact, but that was the biggest reason for my fighting this attack on our Constitutional rights.

Maryland re-codified B&E storehouse which in 1982 was the most minimal crime (misdemeanor) on the books in 1994 or 96. That is what I was charged with. I received 6 months suspended and probation.  Maryland included in its new law more serious offensives and increase the minimum statutory incarceration time to 3 years. The bottom line here is all gun laws now in affect prevent one from possessing weapons if they were convicted of a crime that could have been punishable of 2 years or more in jail.

By doing this they back door every citizen in MD without anyone ever knowing it. Then I just happened to become a victim of this heinous and unjust act, and had the means to fight it.

This is a direct violation of my Constitutional rights regarding the Ex Post Facto laws. I never broke the new law created in 1994. My criminal record which is ONE line is a different law. This is the Ex Post Facto issue. However, the AG states it is not because of some twisted language, they choose to deceive and manipulate the populace.  Again, “We The People” lose more of our rights without ever knowing.  More people need to know this, many citizens in this state would be outraged to understand what has really happened here and since 1996.  

Now I am potentially a criminal because I poses regulated weapons that I was allowed to purchase by MSP and ATF. That is totally wrong, and un-AMERICAN. 
Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:19 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Confronting crime, Courts and the justice system
        

Arrests made in 2007 Harford County shooting

Harford County sheriff's deputies have arrested two suspects in the 2007 fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man who was killed at the Keyser Motel on Pulaski Highway in Aberdeen. Robert Donte Hemphill was shot in the back and was found lying on the floor of his room about 11:35 p.m.

Police have now charged Mark Christian, 23, of Aberdeen (at far left) and Michael Anthony Brown, 28, of Baltimore, with first and second degree murder and handgun charges. Both are being held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center.

Here are some details put out by the Harford County Sheriff's Department:

On August 18, 2007, Harford County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the Keyser Motel located in the 1300 block of Pulaski Highway in Aberdeen, MD at approximately 11:36pm to check the well-being of an occupant of the motel. Upon arrival they discovered the victim, Robert Donte Hemphill, age 26, of the same address lying on the floor of his motel room.  He had been shot in the back and leg.  The room where he resided had been ransacked.

Investigation has since determined that Hemphill, Christian and Brown worked together at a local wholesale establishment.  It was a known fact that Mr. Hemphill did not keep his cash in a bank, but on his person. Investigators determined that Mr. Brown and Mr. Christian attempted to rob Mr. Hemphill, who was shot during the struggle.  

Earlier the same date, at approximately, 3:03am on August 18, 2007, Baltimore County Police responded to Franklin Square hospital in reference to a shooting. Apparently, Mr. Brown had also suffered a gunshot wound that day. Brown told Baltimore County Police that he had been shot in the foot during a robbery that occurred in Baltimore City. Working cooperatively with Baltimore County, Baltimore City Police executed a search and seizure warrant on the location that Mr. Brown had told Baltimore County investigators that he had been shot.

Through the course of the investigation, both agencies’ detectives were able to determine that the story, Mr. Brown had provided to detectives was false. Eventually, Mr. Christian admitted to police that he had shot Mr. Brown accidentally in the foot. Mr. Christian’s gun and Mr. Brown’s clothes were submitted as evidence in connection with the reported crimes associated with Mr. Brown’s gunshot wound to the foot.

While conducting standard case review in the fall of 2010, Harford County Sheriff’s Office detectives recognized Christian’s name as a suspect in the Hemphill homicide at the same time they were investigating his connection to a crime that had been committed in Harford County in the spring of 2010. Investigators remembered an anonymous tip that had been received at the time of the homicide suggesting Christian and Brown might somehow be involved.  

Harford County Sheriff’s Office detectives reached out to Baltimore County Police and Baltimore City Police to obtain the evidence their agencies had involving Brown and Christian from the shooting that was reported to Baltimore County Police on August 18, 2007. The same date as the Hemphill homicide.  

Through the exceptional inter-agency cooperation from Baltimore City Police department and Baltimore County Police department, Harford County Sheriff’s Office detectives were able to obtain forensic evidence that connected Mark Edmond Christian and Michael Anthony Brown to the murder of Robert Donte Hemphill, closing a murder investigation that had been open for almost 3 ½ years.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:02 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Harford County
        

March 1, 2011

February '11 had one of the lowest monthly murder tallies ever

Here's a notable statistic: there were fewer killings last month than during last February's "snowpocalypse," which critics had chalked up as a major reason why murder declined for the year.

The 10 killings in a largely snow-less Feburary 2011 also ties the lowest of any February since at least 1970 and is one of the lowest monthly totals ever, records show.

As we've detailed before in this space, the snow was certainly good for last year's crime numbers. As a record amount was dumped on the area - and stuck around as a nuisance for much of the month - most categories of crime dropped dramatically, data posted for the mayor's Open Baltimore initiative showed. There were 12 homicides during that month, and when murders declined for the year, most pointed to the February snow.

So officials - who won't say it publicly because "even one homicide is too many" - are privately pleased that February 2011 ended with just 10 killings. Scanning my records, which date to 1970, that's the lowest total for the month of February since at least 1970, happening one other time, when 10 were killed in February 1973.

Only three times since 1970 - that's a span of 494 months - has the city seen single-digits for a monthly tally of homicides, my records show. Of course, the city's population declines are not to be overlooked here, with nearly 300,000 less people calling Baltimore home during that time, in no small part because of that crime rate.

It's impossible to say what drove this February's decline, if anything. And for the year, the city is up one killing over this time last year, and non-fatal shootings were up notably as of the middle of February (bringing to mind the "They're just missing" argument). But a drop is a drop, and the longterm trends show its not a fluke. City officials will take it. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:10 PM | | Comments (10)
        

Another city cop nominated for All-Star award

A reader pointed out that in a previous post on a city police officer nominated for America's Most Wanted All-Star award, I had neglected to mention another Baltimore cop. Dante Arthur also has been nominated.

For some reason, the information on the web site leaves out some important details from Arthur's career, including that he got shot in the face while making a drug arrest in January 2009. He received a Citation of Valor from the department.

Arthur had been on the force eight years when he was shot twice in the face on Jan. 23, 2009, in the city's Seton Hall neighborhood. He required several reconstructive surgeries. In an ironic twist, police said at the time that Arthur had arrested one of the young men who shot him two years earlier.

Here are some details from America's Most Wanted (and my apologies for leaving one out):

As a 10 year Baltimore city police veteran, Officer Dante Arthur has trained extensively in narcotics enforcement. He has worked with specialized flex operations in areas of the city known for guns, drugs, murders and shootings.

He has attended gang recognition seminars and assists detectives and patrol officers identify gang related incidents. In 2006, he received a "Letter of Recognition" from the police commissioner for helping remove an illegal submachine gun from the streets of Baltimore and keeping it out of criminal's hands.

Then in 2007, Officer Arthur was a member of a squad of officers who arrested one of Baltimore's major drug dealers. He received the Medal of Valor in 2010 for his heroic actions in an undercover drug buy in one of Baltimore's dangerous neighborhoods. Officer Arthur's supervisor, Sergeant Donato, states that Officer Arthur is the epitome of a courageous officer who has integrity and can be depended upon to complete any task.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 4:12 PM | | Comments (0)
        

City cop nominated as America's Most Wanted All-Star

A Baltimore police officer who was shot last year has been nominated as an All-Star by America's Most Wanted.

Officer Keith Romans and another officer were shot during a car stop in East Baltimore. The officers shot and killed the gunman during the encounter on McElderry Street. Here are some details from a Baltimore Sun story last year:

The shooting occurred shortly after midnight. Three plainclothes officers, including Moore and Romans, stopped a Chevrolet Caprice in the 2600 block of McElderry St. Police said the officers smelled marijuana, ordered the three occupants out and began to search the car.

[Police spokesman Anthony] Guglielmi said the driver broke free, jumped back into the car, grabbed a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun and opened fire on the officers. All three officers returned fire, police said.

The officers were part of a task force called the Monument Street Initiative that concentrates on the business corridor and neighborhoods along the thoroughfare east of Johns Hopkins Hospital.

People can vote once a day for a cop of their choice. Nominations are being accepted until April 2. Here are some more details on the shooting and on the officer from America's Most Wanted:

While on duty the night of March 21, 2010, Baltimore Police Officer Keith Romans was shot in the face at point blank range by a suspect; Miraculously, he not only survived but he is anxiously awaiting for doctors to tell him if he is able to return to the job he loves. In 2008, Keith left his career as an infantryman in the Marines to be with his daughter, and he soon decided to join the police department to continue serving his community.

His Baltimore Police partner, Officer Moore, describes Keith as "an incredible cop" and "role model." Keith began work directly combatting the city's notorious drug and gang problems when he was moved to the Monument Street Initiative, a group of small task forces that police the main throughway for these criminal activities. On the night of the shooting, Keith, Officer Moore, and their third partner, Officer Wiczulis, were patrolling the area when they pulled over a suspicious vehicle. After identifying drugs inside the car, Keith handcuffed the back passenger.

At this time the driver started pushing and antagonizing one of his partners, so Keith immediately came to his aid and forced the man off him. The suspect quickly pulled out a handgun and shot him directly in the face. Though bleeding profusely, Keith incredibly stayed standing and returned gunfire until the officers were able to end the threat.

Remarkably, Keith not only survived, but he was released from the hospital three days later despite the trauma caused by a bullet passing through his jaw and into his brain. Doctors said his determination to fight for his life is what saved him. Keith had his jaw wired shut for three months, and he attended therapy for the rest of the year.

He continues to have painful headaches because the bullet could not safely be removed and remains in his head, but his positive outlook and determination to make the best of a bad situation has helped him carry on.

For his bravery the night of the shooting, Keith has been nominated by his Lieutenant for a Medal of Honor. Lt. Garrity says there is no doubt "his actions that night were heroic." Keith and his two partners were also named Police Officers of the Year by the Knights of Columbus. Just one month after the shooting, Keith and his fiancée decided to seize the moment and marry, and their family and friends helped them plan a small wedding and party held the very next evening. As Keith says, "I'm happy to be alive."
Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:26 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: East Baltimore
        

Facebook tip leads to purse snatching arrests

Anne Arundel County police are crediting Facebook with helping catch a purse snatcher.

On Monday, the cops sought the public's help locating two people who on Feb. 17 had stolen a purse from a shopping cart at a Safeway on Mountain Road. Police said a man and a woman took the purse to a restroom at another location, emptied the contents and stole several items.

Police distributed surveillance photos to the news media and posted them on the department's Facebook page. Today about 1 a.m., police said a person who saw the Facebook page recognized the man and woman inside a Royal Farms store on Fort Smallwood Road in Riviera Beach.

Officers arrested two suspects a short time later. Here is some more information on the suspects and to see the surveillance photo: 

Suspect #1: Dustin Baughman, 19, of 7792 E. Shore Road, Pasadena, Md. The suspect was charged with Possession of Controlled Paraphernalia, Possession of Hypodermic Syringes and Possession With Intent to Use Drug Paraphernalia.

Suspect #2: Jillian Renee Defibaugh, 19, of 1226 Michele Circle, Millersville, Md. The suspect was charged with Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Paraphernalia.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County
        

Grandson arrested in stabbing

Note: this post has been updated. 

A 22-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his 61-year-old grandfather, Baltimore police said.

Edgar Waylan Wilson was found Sunday afternoon by a relative inside his home in the 2800 block of Clifton Ave. in West Baltimore, according to police. A warrant was issued for his grandson, Jerrell Dixon, that day and was served on Monday, court records show.

Police say Dixon confessed to stabbing Wilson during a fight. He was ordered held without bond Monday, records show.

Relatives declined to comment when contacted by The Sun on Monday, but court records show Dixon’s relatives had sought intervention from the courts. In June, his 94-year-old grandmother wrote that Dixon “does not work, takes my credit card numbers and purchased $8,000 worth of … things” and said that he smoked drugs with his friends and “brings strange women in to spend the night without my permission.”

“He has refused to leave when I ask him, and I am afraid for my safety. I am 94 years old,” she wrote in court papers.

District Court Judge Catherine Curran O’Malley issued a temporary protective order, but his grandmother failed to show at a followup hearing.

 

The photo at left is a mugshot of Dixon provided by the Baltimore Police Department.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:48 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Confronting crime, Northeast Baltimore
        

Two men shot in Annapolis; man stabbed in city

Police in Annapolis are investigating the shooting of two men that occurred Monday. A 39-year-old and a 23-year-old were injured. In Baltimore, police said a man was stabbed early today near Herring Run Park.

Baltimore police also announced an arrest in a non-fatal shooting that occurred Friday. Police said Michael Campbell, 26, has been charged in the incident, which occurred on Marble Hall Road. We're awaiting more details.

City police also announced arrests in three gun cases on Monday. Police in the 200 block of East Fayette Street downtown arrested three people and seized a 9mm handgun. An off-duty officer in the 2300 block of West Baltimore St. arrested one person and seized a stolen .45 caliber handgun. And a patrol officer arrested one person and got a revolver.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County, Northeast Baltimore
        
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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.



Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.
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