November 18, 2011

Slain woman's mother sues Baltimore Police, alleges complicity

The mother of an abused woman who was fatally stabbed by her husband in 2008 has sued the Baltimore Police Department, alleging a police commander who was friendly with the husband "allowed him to remain free to commit his crimes."

The suit was filed this week in Baltimore Circuit Court by Carlin Robinson and Eunice Graves, the cousin and mother, respectively, of Veronica Williams, who was stabbed outside the North Avenue District Courthouse by husband Cleaven Williams after she had appeared at a hearing seeking protection from him.

The suit names former Eastern District Deputy Maj. Dan Lioi as a defendant; The Sun in 2009 reported that Lioi had been suspended by the department after investigators learned that he had exchanged text messages with Cleaven Williams, then the president of the Greater Greenmount Community Association, trying to arrange a time for him to turn himself in. At one point, he visited the Eastern District station to do so, but officers could not locate the warrant.

According to testimony at Williams' trial, on Nov. 17, Williams told Lioi by phone that he was on his way to his lawyer's office and that he would "get back" to him, according to the police commander. About an hour after that, Lioi learned that Williams had been arrested in the stabbing of his wife of almost 10 years, as well as resulting in a miscarriage of the child she was carrying.

"The misconduct of the Baltimore City Police Department and its officers rises above mere complacency," the lawsuit says. "Officers actively warned Mr. Williams and refused to arrest him despite the warrant ... This was done with the full knowledge that a judge had already determined Williams to be a threat to the life and safety of the deceased."

The suit further claims that Veronica Williams had been in hiding prior to the court appearance, and had Cleaven Williams been arrested that day, he would have missed his only opportunity to commit the murder. "The defendants placed Mrs. Williams in a police-created zone of danger by intentionally conspiring with Mr. Williams to permit him to remain free despite ample opportunity to arrest him," the suit says.

Lioi, a popular commander both in the Police Department and among East Baltimore residents, was suspended for a few months but cleared of wrongdoing. He was recently moved from the Eastern District and oversees the department's District Detective Units, and could not be immediately reached for comment.

Though the lawsuit does not appear in the state's case search database, a copy was obtained and posted online by the Courthouse News Service website. An employee at the law firm of Cary Hansel, a Greenbelt attorney for the plaintiffs, verified its authenticity.

Here's a longer piece about Veronica and Cleaven Williams, written by The Sun's Melissa Harris in December 2008.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:35 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore

November 15, 2011

Arrest made in killing of man whose vigil was rocked by fear

Marquis Jones’ family can rest a bit easier.

Police have made an arrest in the slaying of the 19-year-old, whose family held a vigil after his death that was interruptedwhen a man approached and made a gun gesture with his hand, sending mourners scrambling with fear.

“Everybody's already tense, because the person who did it is still out here,” uncle Brandon Jones said at the time.

On Nov. 8, police charged Antwon Lee, a 19-year-old from Brooklyn, and he was arrested the next day. Hand-written court documents don’t provide a motive for the crime, only saying that witnesses identified Lee as the shooter. Relatives said they were told that Marquis Jones had been involved in an altercation hours before he was shot Oct. 16 in the 200 block of Aiken St.

After the murder but before Lee’s arrest, Jones’ mother, Tonya, said she was unsure whether an arrest would bring closure.

“As far as [the suspect], he’s already in his own personal jail,” she said. “I want the police to apprehend him and make him serve his time, [but] it won’t bring my son back.”

The arrest comes in a year where homicide detectives have been struggling with a declining rate of cases solved. The unit’s longtime commander was replaced last month.

Lee is being held without bond. His criminal record consists of a handful of drug possession cases and a trespassing charge, all of which were dropped by prosecutors. Court records do not list an attorney for his case.

Jones was one of four children, whose mother had to leave the family after witnessing the death of a relative. He got into trouble with the law, but at his funeral family members recalled his positive traits and decried the city’s culture of acceptance toward violence.

Violence has continued in the East Baltimore-Midway neighborhood where Jones was killed – on Saturday, 18-year-old Kevin Lofland was fatally shot in the 2300 block of Aiken St. It was not clear if the cases were connected.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

November 12, 2011

Man shot, killed in city is latest casualty in violent weekend

Baltimore police are investigating the fatal shooing of a man this afternoon in Heritage Crossing community in West Baltimore. It's the second shooting this month in a section of town houses built years ago to replace a highrise public housing complex.

Police said the victim was shot in the chest about 4:50 p.m. and was pronounced dead a short time later. It occurred in the 1000 block of Pennsylvania Ave. On Nov. 8, two men were shot in Heritage Crossing, which was built to replace the Murphy Homes highrises.

Baltimore police are also reporting several other shootings since Friday. Here is a statement from a department spokesman (not included is a double shooting Friday afternoon in North Baltimore's Harwood, which Justin Fenton covered):

Continue reading "Man shot, killed in city is latest casualty in violent weekend" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:57 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore, West Baltimore

October 27, 2011

Police arrest suspect in killing of church caretaker

Police just announced an arrest in the killing last year of a church caretaker in East Baltimore. James Johnson, 18, was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the death of Milton Hill.

The 70-year-old victim tended the grounds at the Ark Church in the 1200 block of East North Ave. He was found on the morning of July 30 2010 slumped against a fence in a pool of blood behind his home next to the church.

His death came five days after Johns Hopkins researcher Stephen Pitcairn was fatally stabbed while walking home in Charles Village, a killing that motivated the city's political establishment and helped Gregg Bernstein upset Patricia C. Jessamy as state's attorney. Pitcairn's killer was just sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison.

City councilmen held vigils for Hill amid concern that Pitcarn's death was dominating the news. At a community cleanup a month after Hill's slaying, The Sun's Jessica Anderson reported that officials talked about a new playground.

Earlier, Jessica had talked with Hill's eldest daughter, Lennoria Hill-Joseph, who said her father had been active and took pride in his job. Police did not release a motive but authorities at the time said they believed Hill's scooter had been stolen.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:04 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

October 18, 2011

13-year-old girl raped in vacant home in E. Baltimore

A 13-year-old girl walking through East Baltimore last night was grabbed and taken into a vacant home, where she was beaten and sexually assaulted, police confirmed.

The attack occurred in the 800 block of N. Caroline St. at around 9 p.m., police said. The victim suffered scrapes and bruises and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The suspect is described as a black, between 45 and 50 years old, 5-foot-3, and 180 pounds. He was wearing a black skull hat, a grey sweatshirt, black boots, and had a mustache. 

Police spokesman Kevin brown said detectives were "investigating vigorously, and canvassing the area for possible surveillance footage and/or witnesses." He said police were working up a sketch of the suspect and hoped to release it later today.

Anyone with information was asked to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.

The 800 block of N. Caroline St. is about a block west of Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Kennedy Krieger Institute. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:06 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: East Baltimore

October 17, 2011

Man fatally shot in vehicle early Monday

City police were investigating the shooting death of a man early Monday near the North Avenue District Court building.

An officer in the area of Harford Road and Bonaparte Ave. at about 1:30 a.m. and heard gunshots, then saw a vehicle drive past that was riddled with bullet holes, said a police spokesman. The vehicle came to a stop, and the officer saw the driver inside suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:30 a.m.

Police believe the shooting occurred at the intersection of Harford Rd and North Ave, when a man on foot approached the victim's vehicle and opened fire. 

The shooting was the second over the weekend in that area, after 20-year-old Marquis Jones was fatally shot in the 2200 block of Aiken St. just a few blocks over. There hasn't been any additional information released on Jones' killing, including any possible link between the cases.

There have been 165 people killed in Baltimore this year, compared with 174 at this time last year. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

October 13, 2011

City police seek escaped robbery suspect

Baltimore Police are seeking a man who they say escaped custody on the way to the Eastern District station house. A police spokesman had no details on how the man got away:


Jermaine Stroud
Posted by Peter Hermann at 5:16 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore

October 11, 2011

In Broadway East, a community abuzz over a murder

In this corner of East Baltimore, where vacant houses outnumber occupied residences, the customers at the nearby methadone clinic buzzed about the police activity down the street. Women hustled up to the crime scene tape blocking off the intersection of North Port and East Lafayette streets, demanding to know if the victim was a relative.

The victim's legs and feet peeked out from underneath a sheet as detectives surveyed the scene. Later, with onlookers still watching from a distance, emergency personnel picked his lifeless body up by the arms and legs and put it on a gurney. "He looks light-skinned," one woman said to a group of people. "I think he had braids."

Official information was scant. A police spokesman said an unidentified man was shot at about 11:30 a.m. and pronounced dead at the scene. That much, anyone could've told you.

Residents shook their heads. "Always something around here,' they say.

Around the corner, 48-year-old Yul Henderson is trying to keep the block looking clean. He constructed a sidewalk garden - a shrine, he calls it - consisting of bricks, tiles and broken pieces of mirror, all gathered from around the neighborhood, with a tiger statue in the middle.

"For all the people around here, I want them to have something nice," he explains. "If I can't have something nice, then there ain't no sense in doing it."

Nearby is a large pile of trash, which he says he collected from around the area. As quickly as he can pick it up, more gathers. But he's pleased that the city will take it from where he piles it up.

"When you see stuff like this, it's not a trash can. This is art. This is gifted," he says. "When the tornado came, it blew down my fence, but it never touched this."

Like so much in the city's troubled neighborhoods, there's a link to crime here: Henderson created the shrine in memory of his son, also named Yul, who was shot and killed in a robbery in 2007. He was 21 years old.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

October 8, 2011

Man fatally shot by police in East Baltimore

Baltimore police say a man has died after exchanging gunfire with a police officer responding to a domestic violence call.

Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says police responded to a call Saturday morning around 1:40 a.m. reporting that a man had shot his wife in East Baltimore. When officers arrived in the 1800 block of Hope St. they found the man armed with a gun.

Guglielmi says the man was combative with police and confronted officers. He says it appears several shots were fired from both sides. It was not clear if the man died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound or a shot fired by a police officer.

The condition of the man's wife was not clear. Police expected to have more information Saturday afternoon.

The shooting appears to be the second fatal police-involved incident this week. On Sunday, a 52-year-old musician was fatally shot in Brooklyn after police say he did not comply with officers' orders to put down a weapon. This year, city police have been involved in seven shooting incidents, killing four.

-With AP

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore, Police shootings

October 3, 2011

Family of 7-year-old arrested for riding dirt bike loses appeal

Remember Gerard Mungo Jr.?

He's the 7-year-old who was arrested four years ago while sitting on an idling dirt bike in front of his East Baltimore rowhouse. Police cuffed the child, took him to a station and shackled him to a bench before taking him to juvenile detention.

The case attracted national attention, was debated in the media, earned a rebuke and an apology to the family from the mayor and a hefty lawsuit by the boy's family. A jury last year awarded the parents nothing, even though the judge found two officers had illegally arrested the boy because they didn't witness the incident.

Gerard is at left with his mother in this picture taken by The Sun's Kenneth K. Lam.

The family appealed arguing a Baltimore judge improperly moved the trial out of the city, citing negative publicity against the police officers, and that they couldn't get a fair trial in Howard County because the racial mix is far lower than in the city.

Maryland's second-highest court, the Court of Special Appeals, rejected both arguments in an opinion issued Friday. The court ruled that moving the proceedings to Howard was proper, and that the family got a fair trial.

Read the court's full opinion here.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:24 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore, Howard County

September 26, 2011

Two men killed in city shooting

Two men were killed early Sunday in a shooting on Dolfield Avenue in Northwest Baltimore according to city police.

Police said both men were walking in the street in Pimlico when they were shot -- one in the head, the other in the face -- shortly before 4 in the morning. Names of the victims have not yet been released; this morning police said they were both "John Does."

On Saturday, a woman was shot in the back in East Baltimore, in the 700 block of Broadway. The victim, in her 20s, was walking along the street when she was shot for an unknown reason, according to police. She was treated at an area hospital.

Police also identified two recent homicide victims:

-Robert James, 30, was the man shot while sitting in his vehicle at the intersection of E. 34th St. and Ellerslie Ave., near Waverly Elementary and the former Memorial Stadium site. Police haven't given a motive and the case remains open. James was from the 3400 block of Ravenwood Ave. and spent two months in jail late last year after being arrested on robbery and kidnapping charges. Prosecutors dropped the charges in December.

-Thomas Powell, 20, was identified as the man shot in the 400 block of N. East Ave. on Sept. 19. Police haven't released details about the case, which remains open. The shooting occurred in the Ellwood Park neighborhood, one of a few city neighborhoods where the Safe Streets anti-violence group does work. Powell's last known address was in the 5700 block of White Ave., in the Frankford neighborhood.

-Peter Hermann and Justin Fenton

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:12 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northwest Baltimore

September 21, 2011

Prosecutors: Man robbed women, pushed child off bike

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court today, federal prosecutors say a convicted felon robbed two women at gunpoint, then pushed a child off a bicycle in an attempt to get away. It happened in May, in East Baltimore, and this week prosecutors charged John Steven Thomas with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

I've posted the document below. Skip to the fifth paragraph for the narrative:


ATF complaint
Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

Man convicted of murder; another sentenced to 90 years in killing

A city jury has convicted a man in a September 2009 daylight killing in Northwest Baltimore, and in another case, a judge sentenced a man to 90 years in prison in a double shooting in East Baltimore in 2008 that left one victim dead.

In the first case, prosecutors said Charles Thomas was found guilty of first-degree murder for approaching Alvin Terry Alston, 45, from behind and shooting him in the head. The attack occurred about noon on a Sunday at the busy intersection of Cold Spring Lane and Reisterstown Road. Thomas, 47, faces life in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 8.

In the second case, Baltimore Circuit Judge Edward R.K. Hargadon sentenced James Fortune to nearly a century behind bars for shooting Sidney Millner and Natavien Henry at the D&N Liquor Store on North Stricker St. in January 2008. Millner died from his injuries; prosecutors said Henry was paralyzed from the neck down. Fortune, 36, was convicted of second degree murder. 

The Sun's Justin Fenton wrote more about Fortune and of his previous murder conviction:

Continue reading "Man convicted of murder; another sentenced to 90 years in killing" »

September 6, 2011

Police identify weekend homicide victim, provide some details

This post has been updated.

Baltimore police have identified the man fatally shot Sunday near Johns Hopkins Hospital as 31-year-old Antonio Laws, who was apparently shot while sleeping in his home.

An officer on patrol in the area of the 500 block of N. Chester St., in the city's Middle East community, was flagged down at about 12:10 p.m. by someone who said a woman was outside screaming and crying, said police spokesman Detective Donny Moses. When the officer arrived on the scene, the woman said, "He's dead upstairs." 

The officer entered the home and found Laws upstairs in a second floor bedroom unresponsive and bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds, Moses said. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:30 p.m.

Moses said it appeared Laws was sleeping when he was shot. Police did not provide a motive and the case remains open.

Relatives said Laws, who was known as "Tony," was a grandson of the late Bea Gaddy, the former City Councilwoman and advocate for the poor.

"He was a very good young man, a smart young man," said Sandra Chandler, 54, one of Gaddy's daughters. "He had a rough life at the beginning, but was getting back on the right track."

Court records show he had been sentenced to six years in prison on drugs charges in 2003, and had recently been held on sexual assault charges, which were dropped two months later. Chandler said Laws had been working at a downtown restaurant and was awaiting the birth of his first child. 

The family is struggling to come up with money for his funeral, she said, and relatives are fearful for their safety because the killing happened so close to their Bea Gaddy Women and Children for Center, which is in the 400 block of N. Chester St.

Police also identified two homicide victims from last week who had not been initially identified pending notification of their next of kin.

-Janice Drayton, 51, was the woman killed in the 900 block of Leadenhall St. on Friday; police say her boyfriend Gary Allmond has been charged in her death.

-Police say the man killed Aug. 28 in the 2800 block of Round Rd. was identified as Dewayne Jones. That case remains open.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:46 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: East Baltimore

August 24, 2011

Alleged police impersonator sought in sexual assault

Update: Charges against Antoine Jones in this case were dropped on Feb. 8, 2012, court records show. 

City police say a man who is charged with sexually assaulting a woman in East Baltimore had flashed a police badge and claimed to be an officer.

Antoine Jones, 33, is being sought on charges of fourth-degree sex offense after police say the victim picked him out of a lineup. She told officers that on Aug. 11, Jones gave her a ride from the area of Harford Ave. and Bonaparte St. to her East Baltimore home, and made several sexual advances toward her.

She said that she told him to stop touching her, and he pulled over the vehicle at the intersection of North Avenue and Rutland Avenue and locked the doors, forcibly touching her. He told her he was a police officer and that she could trust him, records show. He made subsequent attempts until she escaped from the vehicle when he stopped at an intersection.

According to police, the victim told detectives that her attacker had told her his name and given a day of birth, which they used to identify Jones and include his picture in a photo lineup. The woman picked Jones out from that lineup. 

Police say Jones is not a former or current officer. 

The crime is the latest to involve people claiming to be police officers, including a series of home invasions in which residents were bound and robbed. 

Police publicized this incident after receiving an inquiry from The Sun on Wednesday. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:45 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: East Baltimore

August 23, 2011

Two shot in Baltimore amid earthquake, aftermath

Two men were shot - at least one who was seriously wounded - in Baltimore in the aftermath of Tuesday's earthquake that hit the East Coast.

The first shooting was reported to police at 1:59 p.m., just moments after the quake hit. As stunned residents were trying to figure out whether the region had actually been hit by an earthquake, police were being dispatched to the 400 block of N. Gay St. at the east end of Oldtown Mall for a shooting.

Few details were immediately available, but crime scene technicians had marked evidence on the street in front of a barber shop. The victim's condition was not immediately known, but police said homicide detectives were notified due to the severity of his injuries.

The scene is across the street from an apartment complex for the elderly, and residents say by the time they got escorted out of the building for safety because of the earthquake, police were already on the scene. Col. Jesse Oden, the police department's criminal investigations chief, visited the scene but declined to speak to a reporter.

Then, at 4 p.m., police reported another shooting in the Sandtown Winchester community of West Baltimore. No details were available for that incident. 

Separately, a serious crash shut down traffic in both directions on Orleans Street just south of Johns Hopkins Hospital. A van had been flipped over, and it was not clear if anyone was injured or how severely. 


Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:20 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: East Baltimore, West Baltimore

August 22, 2011

Man fatally shot in E. Baltimore; 3rd in 18 days

City police were working to identify a man who was fatally shot last night at the intersection of N. Milton Ave. and E. Chast St., the Sun's Liz F. Kay reports.

The fatal shooting is just the third in a stretch of 18 days, which, in a city that averages 23 homicides each August, is rather notable. Since Irene Logan was found fatally stabbed in her home on Aug. 3, there had been just two other homicides before - both on Aug. 14 - until last night's fatal shooting. The city has not been violence-free, however, with several other shootings and a triple stabbing reported over the weekend.

But the relatively quiet stretch has swung city crime statistics to put the city below last year's pace. Earlier in the month, homicides were up for the year. Now, they're down 6 percent compared with this time last year.

There's few details on Sunday's shooting, including the victim's identity or a possible motive.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:34 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore

August 5, 2011

Police seek suspect in fatal shooting

Baltimore police are searching for a suspect in Monday night's fatal shooting of Sean Eames, who was killed on Darley Avenue. 

The suspect, Ottus Maximum Savoy, pleaded guilty to assault in August 2008 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but five years suspended. He is currently on probation, according to electronic court records.

Here is a statement from police:

"The Baltimore Police Department is seeking the whereabouts of 18 year-old Ottus Maximum Savoy for the fatal-shooting that occurred within the 1600 Blk of Darley Avenue.

On August 1, 2011, officers responded just after 11 pm to the 1600 Blk of Darley Avenue for report of a shooting.  Once they arrived they discovered the victim, 24 year-old Sean Eames, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.  He was transported to the Johns Hopkins Medical Facility and succumbed to his injuries just before 1:30 am.

Investigation has lead detectives to identify 18 year-old Ottus Savoy as the individual responsible for the homicide and we are now seeking the public's help in locating him.

To give police a tip:

Continue reading "Police seek suspect in fatal shooting" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:25 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

August 2, 2011

National Night Out

National Night Out has become a big community event, getting residents and cops together to take back the streets. Below is a list of events in the city and the counties, scheduled for today, Aug. 2

National Night outs:

Baltimore City

Baltimore County

Harford County

Anne Arundel County

Howard County

I could only find one in Carroll County, in Eldersburg. Here is a link to details. If anyone knows of more here, please let me know and I'll post.

August 1, 2011

Man, 42, charged in woman's death

City police have charged a 42-year-old man in the killing last month of a woman in East Baltimore.

Daryl Cloude, of the 1200 block of Ashland Ave., was taken into custody Monday and charged in the killing of Patsy Person, 43, who was found dead July 10 inside her home in the 200 block of N. Belnord Ave. Police said she was suffering from trauma to her head and was pronounced dead on the scene.

The relationship between Cloude and Person, if any, was unclear, though Person pressed assault and theft charges against Cloude in May. Court records show Cloude was on probation for an assault conviction in 2008.

Cloude has been charged with second-degree murder and was being held at Central Booking on no bond.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:40 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore

July 29, 2011

Officer who tumbled off JFX honored by city youth

Baltimore Police Officer Teresa Rigby broke down in tears.

Just five weeks after a crash on the JFX that sent over the side of the elevated highway and 30 feet to the pavement below, the officer met with youngsters in East Baltimore. They presented her with a mural, and the officer was overcome.

Here is a picture of Rigby from today's event, taken by The Sun's Jed Kirschbaum.

 We'll have more from the event a bit later on line and in tomorrow's print edition. Rigby had been standing near a disabled car when another car crashed into the back of it, forcing the vehicle into her cruiser, and into her.

Here are more stories on the officer and tapes of police communications from the accident.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

July 27, 2011

Fifty-four years for man convicted in shooting thwarted by handbag

Remember this story from September 2009?:

Sitting in her car Tuesday night outside the Kennedy Krieger Institute as police investigated a shooting, Ana Matheus held up what may have spared her from serious injury: her Vera Bradley handbag.

She reached in and pulled out her pocketbook. Inside was a checkbook, a credit card and a $20 bill - all pierced by a bullet that narrowly missed striking her as she left work at Kennedy Krieger.

Matheus was not harmed, but a female co-worker was wounded when one of the stray bullets struck her in the hand about 6:30 p.m. Matheus said the woman was walking just a foot in front of her when the shots rang out. With the errant bullet piercing the bag that was slung over her shoulder, Matheus was inches away from being wounded herself.

 "I've always felt pretty safe with the security guards on the corners, but I don't know, it definitely feels less safe now," said Matheus, a 27-year-old social worker in the pediatric hospital at Kennedy Krieger. "It's pretty surreal."

The State's Attorney's Office announced today that the suspect charged in the case, 44-year-old Timothy Gaskins, was sentenced today to 54 years in prison for the shooting after being convicted during a six-day trial in May on two counts of attempted second-degree murder and 18 other charges. Prosecutors say Gaskins fired five shots - in addition to the bullet that traveled through Matheus' bag, one bullet pierced the intended victim's pants but missed his leg, and another struck the hand of Matheus' co-worker.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

July 26, 2011

Three years after man's fire death, case reclassified as homicide

For three years, the death of 25-year-old Dwayne Hawkins in a fire in East Baltimore has been listed as an accident.

But this week, Hawkins’ death was officially reclassified a homicide. Police say new information uncovered in March of this year sparked a new investigation that determined Hawkins was killed.

Hawkins was found on June 13, 2008 in the rear of a home in the 600 block of Cokesbury Lane, in the East Baltimore Midway neighborhood, and was rushed to Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital. He died three days later.

At the time, police now say, investigators smelled an “ignitable liquid” at the scene. But they also received reports that Hawkins had been drinking, and determined that an “open flame combined with combustibles” to spark an accidental fire, police said.

In March of this year, police received new information that Hawkins had actually been killed, police say. Detectives consulted with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the state medical examiner’s office, and re-examined the details of the case.

Continue reading "Three years after man's fire death, case reclassified as homicide" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

July 25, 2011

Baltimore police search for arsonists

From Baltimore police:

The Baltimore Police Department is seeking information concerning an arson that occurred on Saturday, July 23, 2011, within the 2300 Blk of E. Fairmount Avenue.

Just after midnight, two possibly teenage suspects ignited what appears to be a tee-shirt and placed it near a wooden storage structure that is attached to the Lucky Corner Convenience Store. 

The resulting fire damaged the storage structure and items within, along with the brick wall of the business, causing approximately $4,000 is property damage. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Baltimore Police Department. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

July 21, 2011

"Four-by-Four" neighborhood drug dealer gets 10 years

From the U.S. Attorney's Office:

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Raymond Moore, a/k/a “Money,” age 20, of Baltimore, today to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute powder and crack cocaine.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Theresa R. Stoop of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein; and  Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

“This investigation has significantly reduced the violence in the 4 X 4 area of Baltimore,” says ATF Special Agent in Charge Theresa Stoop, “ATF and the Baltimore Police Department have put several career offenders like Raymond Moore 'out of business,' where their next destination will be federal prison.”

According to Moore’s plea agreement, the indictment and other court documents, from at least June 2009 through August 2010, Moore was part of a drug distribution organization that operated in the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood known as the “4x4." The “4x4” is a small, relatively closed neighborhood consisting of four streets running north-south and four streets running east-west. Ravenwood, Elmora, Lyndale and Elmley Avenues all run east and west and are one-way streets. Greenview, St. Cloud, Highview and Longview Avenues all run north and south and are two-way streets. The area is bordered on the east and west ends by Edison Highway and Belair Road, respectively. 

According to his plea and other court documents, law enforcement overheard Moore and his co-conspirators discussing their drug activities.  Moore admits that during the time of the conspiracy he distributed crack and powder cocaine, collected money from drug customers and distributors, and cooperating with and furthered the drug trafficking activities of other members of the drug conspiracy.  Moore admits that he during the time of the conspiracy, he was responsible for the distribution of 280 grams or more of crack cocaine, and 5 kilograms or more of powder cocaine .

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:05 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore

July 11, 2011

Three slain, five more shot in Sunday violence in city

Baltimore police had another bloody Sunday to contend with, as detectives investigate three slayings and five nonfatal shootings.

The violence raged from one end of the city to another -- with four assaults reported between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Sunday. Read full details here. A brief recap:

* 17-year-old shot several times at 10:42 p.m. in the 1300 block of Luzerne St. Two others were injured in the incident.

* Man shot in the chest near Greenmount Cemetery at 2:20 p.m.

* A 43-year-old woman was found dead about 11 a.m. with head trauma inside her home in the 200 block of N. Belnord Ave. 

* A 46-year-old man died after he was stabbed in the stomach in the 1700 block of Gorsuch Ave. about 2:30 a.m.

* A 22-year-old man wa shot in the abdomen about 2:30 a.m. inthe 1500 block of Lester Morton Court.

* A man walked into a South Baltimore hospital about 2:40 a.m. after being shot inthe 4100 block of Pascal AVe.

* A man was shot int he leg about 2 a.m. in the 3800 block of 8th St. in Brooklyn

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:26 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, North Baltimore, South Baltimore

July 10, 2011

City police investigate several slayings, shootings on Sunday

Baltimore police have been busy today investigating several violent incidents. Here are some details as they come in straight from a city police spokesman:

1500 Blk Lester Morton Court Homicide
July 10, 2011 / Baltimore, MD - The Baltimore Police Department is investigating a homicide that occurred this morning, just after 2:30 am, within the 1500 Blk of Lester Morton court.  Patrol officers responded to the location for report of a shooting and discovered 22 year-old Jerel McFadden suffering from a gunshot wound to the torso.  He was transported to John Hopkins Hospital and, despite medical treatment, died shortly after 3:10 am.

AT right is a picture of McFadden from his Facebook page. 

Homicide - 1700 Blk of Gorsuch Avenue
July 10, 2011 / Baltimore, MD - Baltimore Police homicide detectives are investigating a death that occurred this morning within the 1700 Blk of Gorsuch Avenue at 2:30 am.  Officers responded to discover the body of 46 year-old Richard Mills seated in a pick-up truck suffering from an apparent stab wound to the torso.  Mr. Mills was transported to John Hopkins Hospital where, despite best efforts, he was pronounced dead just before 3:30 am.

In addition, police say homicide detectives are investigating a woman's body that was found this morning in the 200 block of North Belnord Ave. in Southeast and a shooting of a man in the chest on the East side in the 400 block of Pitman Place.

June 27, 2011

Weekend shootings in city

UPDATE: The violence from the weekend continued into Monday -- the body of a woman who was fatally stabbed was found early today near Patterson Park, and a man was shot in the head in North Baltimore.  

In case you missed it over the weekend, several people fell victim to gunfire in Baltimore this weekend, in addition to the 15-year-old who was accidentally shot by an 11-year-old boy.

Map city homicides here.

Here is a list of weekend shootings from Baltimore police:


Continue reading "Weekend shootings in city" »

Burglar steals from church; then it burns

The Sun's Erica L. Green reports:

An East Baltimore church was destroyed in an early morning blaze Sunday after a burglar stole sound equipment from the building, according to police.

No injuries were reported in the fire and burglary, which occurred shortly after 4 a.m. at the Paradise Christian Center, located in the 3000 block of E. Oliver Street, according to police spokesman Kevin Brown.

Brown said the fire started when a burglar attempted to steal the sound equipment, and eventually consumed the entire building. No further details were immediately available.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:03 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

June 24, 2011

In supporting clinic, Baltimore police reaffirm policy shift

Tired of the heroin and crime surrounding his Northeast Baltimore church and treatment center, the Rev. Milton Williams said Thursday that he plans to open the city's first "open access" clinic, which will hand out methadone within 15 minutes to any addict who walks through the door, The Sun's Meredith Cohn reports.

Williams said defiantly that he will open the doors of his Turning Point clinic on North Avenue on July 5 to possibly 100-150 addicts a night — though he still lacks approval from state and federal regulators.

But he has the support of at least one city agency - The Baltimore Police Department, which sent a high-ranking commander and a member of the public affairs office, who said this about the agency's evolving view of drugs:

Detective Donny Moses, now a spokesman for the department, said he spent five years in the narcotics division and during that time "had a change of heart" about arresting addicts.

"I must have arrested a million and one people addicted to heroin, and I thought there had to be a better way," he said. "I was thinking this was someone's daughter or son and someone was praying for you. … The Police Department is no longer interested in locking up all the addicts."

Lt. Col. Ross Buzzuro from the police commissioner's office, added, "We can't arrest ourselves out of this problem. We're seeking those wreaking the most havoc on the city. Our mission has changed somewhat."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:45 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: East Baltimore

June 14, 2011

Man fatally shot on Greenmount Avenue

City police were investigating an afternoon shooting along Greenmount Avenue that left a man dead.

Officers were called to the scene at about 1 p.m. for a report of a man in his 30s or 40s who had been shot at least once in the head in the 2400 block of Greenmount Ave. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about 40 minutes later, police said.

The shooting occurred on the sidewalk in front of a strip of homes that appeared to be mostly vacant, and homicide detectives and commanders from the Eastern District stood over the crime scene with Greenmount Avenue traffic blocked both ways. Police did not immediately have a motive or description of the suspect. The killing is the seventh so far in June, as the city remains ahead of last year's pace for homicides.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:40 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore

June 13, 2011

District-by-district crime statistics - Week 22

Here's a look at unofficial Baltimore city crime statistics through June 4, as they are presented each week at the department's Comstat meetings. Notably, rapes are up 64 percent (though this is likely more reflective of new classification procedures than an uptick in actual incidents), though rape arrests are also up to the tune of 138 percent (69 arrests this year compared with 29 at this time last year). Shootings, meanwhile, are up 13 percent, particularly in the Eastern District, which has been hammered with 36 shootings this year compared with only 13 last year. 

Exsum Spreadsheet Wk 22-11
Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:56 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore, Top brass

June 2, 2011

About that historic low in homicides in May...

That near-record low in homicides in Baltimore for May wasn't what it seemed, as police failed to disclose two homicides late in the month - including one case in which they even made an arrest.

The two victims are:

-Anthony Sherman, 27, of the 2600 block of E. Hoffman St., was shot in the head just after midnight on May 25th in the 1600 block of Ward Ct. in East Baltimore. He was found lying on the sidewalk and taken to a local hospital, where he was not expected to survive. Police spokesman Kevin Brown said Sherman died the next day, May 26.

-Kevin Jones, 57, of the 2700 block of Maryland Ave., was stabbed in the chest at 10:50 a.m. May 26 in the 1200 block of W. Ostend St. in Pigtown. Jones was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died at about 5 p.m. that day.

Police arrested Corey Arnell Crosby, a 40-year-old man, on May 27. Brown said the motive was an argument. The murder arrest was the fourth time Crosby has been arrested this year; now, he is being held without bond on the murder charges.

Attempts to learn more about the victims were not immediately successful. Court records show Jones in August received a 15 year prison sentence for drug distribution, but the entire sentence was suspended except for time served.

The killings are two more than police had previously disclosed, though the revised 15 killings for the month is still the first time the city has recorded less than 20 in the month of May since 1998 and only the second time since 1989.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, South Baltimore

May 26, 2011

Associate of reputed E. Baltimore drug kingpin pleads guilty

A 25-year old Elkton woman pleaded guilty Thursday in Baltimore's U.S. District Court to conspiring to launder more than $400,000 in heroin proceeds, trading the drug funds for clean cash at Las Vegas casinos and other people's winning state lottery tickets, The Sun's Tricia Bishop reports.

Joy Edison, who was originally indicted in August on drug charges alongside Steven Blackwell and Tahirah Carter, has also agreed to forfeit at least a half dozen Baltimore properties she bought using drug money. Sentencing is set for August 12.

Read more here.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

Wounded boy still clings to life; more people shot

You can feel the pain in Camille Bell's words. She's the principal at Montebello Elementary/Middle School, and this is her sad ritual:

"Every morning, I hope and pray that I don't see their pictures, that I don't hear any homicides, that I hear nothing about [the] Northeast community, because I know it's going to affect the school community in some way. We always pray that every day will be a good day, and nobody was prepared for this."

On Wednesday, she awoke to news that one of her students, 12-year-old Sean Johnson, had been struck in the chest by a bullet. He was with three friends sitting on a porch on Cliftview Avenue in Northeast Baltimore, watching a basketball game on TV.

His three friends also were wounded, but police say Johnson is not expected to survive. Bell described him as a good student and none of the four who were injured had gotten into trouble. One had a scholarship to college. Read the compelling story of the violent night by The Sun's Erica L. Green and Justin Fenton.

More violence erupted last night:

Continue reading "Wounded boy still clings to life; more people shot" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore, Southwest Baltimore

May 25, 2011

Shootings cap violent night in Baltimore

Four people were shot, three in one incident, Tuesday night in Northeast Baltimore, and sources say two of the victims were juveniles. At least one was shot in the head. Another man was fatally shot early Wednesday in West Baltimore.

[Read Justin Fenton's story about crime in Northeast Baltimore]. More details of the latest shootings can be found here.

The shootings kept detectives busy from one end of the city to the other. The first shooting occurred about 9 p.m. in the 1700 block of Montpelier St., just off Harford Road, when a man was shot in the arm and leg.

About an hour later, three people were shot in the 2500 block of Cliftview Ave., just a few blocks away near Lake Clifton Park, including two apparent juveniles. There was no immediate word on their conditions this morning, but homicide detectives were investigating because police said one wa shot in the head.

The Sun's Jessica Anderson reported from the scene that neighbors heard the shots and looked around for their own children before seeing the victims taken away in ambulances. "It's all too common," said one 27-year-old resident of nearby 25th Street who declined to give his name. "We just had this police shooting on Harford Road."

A second man, 53, who also said he was a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, said he has a 17-year-old and 18-year-old at home. "First you look around for your kids" when you hear shots fired. He emphasized that not all youths in the area were troubled. "A lot of the kids are going to college around here," he said. "We need to find some jobs for them."

Hours later, The Sun's Yeganeh June Torbati reported that another man was shot shortly before 3 a.m. in the 1500 block of North Monroe St. in West Baltimore. A police officer found the victim in a vacant lot and he was pronounced dead on the scene.

Track the city's homicides with the The Sun's interactive map. And check back to learn more about these shootings.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:23 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore

May 16, 2011

Two more shot in Baltimore

Baltimore police are investigating two shootings that occurred Sunday -- one on the eastside, the other on the westside.

One man was reported shot in the foot about 7 p.m. on Westwood Avenue. Another man was shot multiple times about 7:40 p.m. on North Montford Avenue. Those two shootings follows a violent Friday and Saturday, in which eight people were shot, including one fatally.

That occurred early Saturday on Marble Hall Road in North Baltimore. The victim has not yet been identified. City police plan to provide updates on the violence, and their plans for staffing Saturday's Preakness, early this afternoon.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore, North Baltimore, West Baltimore

May 13, 2011

Two shot near re-dedicated memorial to slain girl

Less than three days after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake helped neighbors re-dedicate a memorial to a slain 6-year-old girl in the Walbrook area, two men were injured in a shooting one block away - one of three shootings incidents overnight that left five people injured.

The memorial to Tiffany Smith, killed in 1996 when she was struck by an errant bullet during a gunfight, had fallen by the wayside in recent years, but the city helped rebuild it after snow plows destroyed it during last year's blizzards. At an event Tuesday afternoon, residents said the neighborhood grapples with crime and an overwhelming problem with vacant homes and businesses, though a major development project slated to begin in the fall was cause for optimism. Rawlings-Blake touted her crime initiatives, including recently-passed gun legislation and the hiring of 300 new police officers, and urged residents to work with police.

At the shooting scene, at the intersection of North Rosedale Street and West North Avenue, shoes and socks of one of the victims lay on the street corner near a pizza place. An employee of the store recalled a regular customer who was gunned down in the area, and she said doesn't let her kids play outside. "Everybody's walking around with hatred," she said, though noting that despite the shootings, the abandonment in the neighborhood leaves the area typically quiet.

Fire union officials said on Twitter that the shooting occurred "next door" to a fire station that has been closed for months because of "poor upkeep by the city," likely causing a delay in the time it took medics to treat the victims.

Police were also investigating a double-shooting in the 2200 block of E. Biddle St., in East Baltimore, and said a man was shot in the chest in the 2800 block of Riggs Ave. in West Baltimore, less than a mile south of the shooting near Tiffany Square. Additional details were not immediately available.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:10 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: City Hall, East Baltimore, West Baltimore

May 10, 2011

Sociologist who patrolled East Baltimore recalls crack house


"In this disorder, there is order."

That's Peter Moskos, a sociologist and professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who worked for 14 months between 1999 and 2001 as a police officer patrolling the Eastern District. In this post from his blog, which shares the same name as his 2008 book "Cop in the Hood," he takes us on a photo tour of a crack house - now torn down - that he had used to conduct surveillance.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

May 6, 2011

Community activist sentenced for killing wife

The Sun's Nick Madigan reports:

In the mind of Cleaven L. Williams Jr., the stabbing death of his wife on a Baltimore street was a tragedy that took place outside his control. The event, he said in court Friday, rendered him a victim, too, although whether of circumstance or fate he did not make clear.

In sentencing the 35-year-old defendant to life in prison, Baltimore Circuit Judge Timothy J. Doory admonished him to “accept 100 percent responsibility” for killing Veronica Graves Williams on Nov. 17, 2008, something he avoided doing during his trial in February and in his long statement to the court on Friday.

Above, Carlin Robinson, a cousin of the victim, joins friends and relatives outside the courthouse, in a photo by The Sun's Lloyd Fox.

Read past coverage of Williams, including how the judicial system failed the victim.

Read a letter the suspect sent to The Sun.

The judge, in declining to impose a no-parole sentence, called him an intelligent man who might still make something of his life once he is released, which could occur in about 25 years. Doory also gave Williams an additional three-year term, which he will serve consecutively, on a dangerous-weapon charge.

The murder of Veronica Williams, with whom Cleaven Williams had three children and was expecting a fourth, was a stunningly public act, witnessed by several people on a North Avenue sidewalk. The stabbing ended only when a police officer who happened to be nearby fired his gun twice at the knife-wielding suspect.

“He actually calls himself a victim,” prosecutor Kevin Wiggins told the court. “It’s his wife’s fault. She made him do it.”

Continue reading "Community activist sentenced for killing wife" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

May 5, 2011

Armed holdup captured on video

Baltimore police have released this video of an armed robbery at an East Baltimore grocery store last month. It occurred about 3:45 p.m. on April 13 when two men about 30 years old ran into the store and held up an employee and a customer.

The police report says the owner chased the gunmen from the store in the 3100 block of East Baltimore St. north on Elwood Street and through several alleys. The men escaped. The video, pulled from a store surveillance camera, shows the men with the gun and taking cash.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:09 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore

May 1, 2011

Shootings, stabbings in Baltimore City, County

Police in Baltimore City and County are investigating separate shootings overnight. A report from Baltimore:

A 24-year-old man was found shot multiple times around 11:30 p.m. in the 1200 block N. Luzerne Ave. in East Baltimore, according to Det. Kevin Brown, the city police spokesman. Police found the victim, who was not identified, sitting on steps with wounds to the chest and leg. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was listed in serious condition, the spokesman said. The victim told police he heard gunshots as he was walking along Luzerne and realized he was hit. Police have no suspects or motives, Brown said.

Around 3:15 p.m., a man was shot multiple times near the corner of Rogers and Elderon avenues in Northwest Baltimore. The victim told police he was leaving an address near there when an unknown male began following him, pulled a handgun and started shooting before fleeing. The victim, whose identity was not released, was taken to an area hospital, where his condition was unknown.

BREAKING NEWS: Police are at this hour are investigating a suspicious death at a home inthe 2700 block of Matthews St. North Baltimore. An adult female was found face down at that location.

Baltimore County incidents:

Three people were stabbed and a man was shot in separate incidents Saturday night and early Sunday in Baltimore County, a police spokesman said.

The stabbings occurred around 11:30 p.m. in the 3600 block of Florida Road off Liberty Heights Avenue, after a disturbance broke out at a carnival being held at Security Square Mall. All three stabbing victims were taken to local hospitals with nonfatal wounds, the police spokesman said. The spokesman provided no information on the victims' identities, and said police had no suspects.

A man was shot around 12:30 a.m. Sunday at the Windsor Inn in the 7200 block of Windsor Mill Road, police said. The victim, also not identified, was taken to a local hospital. Police have no suspects in that incident, the spokesman said.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:56 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County, East Baltimore

April 29, 2011

Upper Fells Point stabbing, man found on fire in vacant swell city murder total

Killings in Baltimore continue to climb, with police saying a man whose body was found on fire Wednesday in Southwest Baltimore had been killed by asphyxiation and homicide detectives investigating a Friday morning fatal stabbing in Upper Fells Point.

As of early Friday, 70 people had been slain in the city, a 25 percent increase over the same point last year. Twenty-six people have been killed this month, up from 16 in all of last April.

Det. Nicole Monroe, a city police spokeswoman, said an autopsy determined that the body found on fire in the basement of a vacant home in the unit block of Monroe St. was that of a 50-year-old man. He had been asphyxiated, and police have not identified him pending notification of his next of kin. The investigation was continuing, Monroe said.

At about 6:30 a.m. Friday, police responded to a report of a stabbing in the 1700 block of E. Lombard St., in Upper Fells Point, Monroe said. A neighbor said the victim was found in front of a neighborhood bar, but police did not have any information on the case, including the man’s identity or a possible motive.

City police have also identified a man shot to death in a triple shooting off North Avenue in East Baltimore Thursday afternoon.

Continue reading "Upper Fells Point stabbing, man found on fire in vacant swell city murder total" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 7:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore, Southwest Baltimore

April 28, 2011

Two dead, two wounded in daylight East Baltimore shootings

The Sun's Jessica Anderson reports:

Three men were shot just off North Avenue in East Baltimore Thursday afternoon, one of them fatally, and a fourth man shot and killed himself about half a mile away as police swarmed neighborhoods looking for suspects, according to city police.

The triple shooting shortly before 1 p.m. in the 1900 block of North Collington Ave. where numerous people had gathered outside a corner store. Det. Donny Moses, a city police spokesman, said the men were approached by two other men who opened fire on them (picture above is by The Sun's Amy Davis).

Plainclothes officers from the Violent Crime Impact Section were doing narcotics work and responded to the scene, which police had secluded with lines of yellow police tape.
One man, who has not yet been identified, was shot in the head. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Continue reading "Two dead, two wounded in daylight East Baltimore shootings" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:33 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore

Two dead in Eastside shootings

Three people were shot, one fatally, at North Collington and West North Avenues this afternoon. Then, as police swarmed the area, a man apparently shot himself in the head near East Oliver and North Wolfe streets.

The Sun's Jessica Anderson was at the scene and will have a full report shortly on the latest violence. The shooting occurred shortly after 2 p.m.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 4:16 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: East Baltimore

Lottery used to launder drug money, federal authorities say

The Maryland Lottery's slogan may be "Let Yourself Play," but the feds are saying it's the lottery that got played. Authorities are saying a suspected drug dealer laundered money through winning tickets.

In a scheme outlined in a federal indictment filed Wednesday -- and fully explored in a story here -- prosecutors say that Steven Blackwell bought winning $5,000 lottery tickets from three players and then cashed them in for the proceeds. The original player presumably got their winnings tax-free, and the suspect got clean cash out of the deal.

Three times in a little overa a month, the indictment says, the same woman working for Blackwell cashed three winning tickets, each for $5,000. The charges also include allegations that money was laundered through Las Vegas casino chips, including up to $35,000's worth from the Venetian Resort.

You may remember Blackwell -- he's been linked to a string of violence and authorities are trying to break up his alleged empire by seizing $10 million. He is linked to two real estate companies that own a string of properties in the city and he owns a $740,000 house in Elkton.

More details from a previous story by Sun reporter Justin Fenton:

Continue reading "Lottery used to launder drug money, federal authorities say" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

April 22, 2011

Five shot in Baltimore

This post has been updated 

Six men were reported shot, one fatally, in separate attacks within a 24-hour period spanning Thursday night and Friday, according to a Baltimore police spokesman. There have been 58 people killed in Baltimore thus far this year, compared with 52 at this time last year.

The latest shooting was reported about 11:10 a.m. in Northeast Baltimore. Police said a man was found shot in an alley off the 1700 block of Homestead St. He was wounded several times, police said. There was no immediate update on his condition.

Another man was shot about 2 a.m. in the 200 block of West Fayette St., as clubs and bars let out in the downtown. Police had few details and could not say whether the gunfire was connected to nightlife activities.

Police did say they had a person of interest in custody.

Here are addition details from city police:

Continue reading "Five shot in Baltimore" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Downtown, East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore, Northwest Baltimore

April 18, 2011

Man found injured in car accident had been shot

View Larger Map

A man found injured in a what police at first thought was a car accident near Lake Ashburton Sunday night had been shot in head, city police said this morning. More details are expected later thiis afternoon, but police say it occurred about 10:15 p.m.

Officers responded to the reported accident in the 3200 block of Vickers Road. They found a 57-year-old man "inside of a car disoriented and bleeding from the head." He was rushed a nearby hospital, where doctors determined he had been shot.

"The vehicle that the victim was in, apparently struck a parked car before coming to a stop in the block," a police spokesman said in a statement.

Details on other weekend shootings:

Continue reading "Man found injured in car accident had been shot " »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northwest Baltimore

April 11, 2011

Police say pair committed 10 robberies Sunday a.m.

City police are asking for help identifying two men who they believe committed 10 armed robberies over a span of a few hours Sunday morning. The addresses are all over the map, sweeping through West Baltimore, Mount Vernon and East Baltimore, and Lt. Scott Serio said the suspects were making quick work. Some of the robberies occurred in the vestibules of businesses such as a liquor store and a carryout, while others were street robberies, including stickups of two Sun newspaper hawkers. Police believe the suspects were getting around in a green, four-door Buick LeSabre. If you recognize the men pictured below, police are asking you to call the citywide robbery unit at 410-366-6341.


Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:35 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Downtown, East Baltimore, West Baltimore

Overnight killings push total up 13 percent over last year

Two men were killed overnight in separate attacks in South and East Baltimore, police said.

The slayings pushed the number of people killed to 52, statistics show – 13 percent more than at this time last year, when the city went on to record its lowest murder rate in two decades. The increase appears fueled in part by a jump in the number of fatal stabbings, with 12 people killed in stabbings compared with six at this time last year, according to statistics maintained by The Sun.

In the first incident, an unidentified man died early Monday of injuries suffered during an attack Sunday night in Baltimore’s Brooklyn neighborhood, police said.

Continue reading "Overnight killings push total up 13 percent over last year" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, South Baltimore

April 8, 2011

Baltimore police investigate overnight shootings

Three people were shot in Baltimore Thursday night and early today. All the victims survived their wounds.

The shooting occurred between 6:25 p.m. and 2:25 a.m. and were in three different parts of the city -- south, east and northeast. In two cases, the victims got themselves to a hospital before police arrived at the scenes.

Thus far, 48 people have been killed in Baltimore, five more than the 43 slain at this time last year. Here are details on the latest violence from Detective Kevin Brown, a police spokesman:

Continue reading "Baltimore police investigate overnight shootings" »

March 31, 2011

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

March 28, 2011

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:




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

March 26, 2011

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.

Continue reading "City workers arrested in gambling probe have extensive records" »

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

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:

Continue reading "City workers caught gambling, drinking on duty" »

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

March 25, 2011

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

March 24, 2011

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

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

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.

Continue reading "Two cops shot on same street -- 10 years apart" »

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

March 21, 2011

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.

Continue reading "Man's interactions with police increasingly became dangerous" »

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 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

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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.

Continue reading "City officer shot, man critically wounded in Eastern District" »

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

March 14, 2011

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:

Continue reading "Man convicted in double murder" »

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:

Continue reading "The Wire's Snoop spars with judge, gets no bail" »

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

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.

Continue reading "Raid in area of violence nets 5 guns, 4 arrests for city police" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:07 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore

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

March 3, 2011

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:

Continue reading "Man shot in 92 becomes latest city homicide" »

March 1, 2011

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:

Continue reading "City cop nominated as America's Most Wanted All-Star" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:26 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: East Baltimore

February 21, 2011

Weekend violence strikes city, Baltimore County

While wind-swept fires dominated the news, at least eight people were shot -- three of them fatally -- in a spate of violence this weekend in the city and Baltimore County. Two of the dead were in Parkville and in Lansdowne.

The Baltimore County slayings -- one early Sunday at a gas station -- were the county's third and fourth homicides of the year.

In Baltimore, six people were wounded by bullets, including a 15-year-old boy, in shootings that began Friday night. Two men were shot on Cliftview Avenue, in East Baltimore between Harford Road and Wolfe Street, on Sunday afternoon. One of the men died.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:27 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County, East Baltimore

February 20, 2011

Top police commander retires

Michael J. Andrew retires Wednesday after spending 37 years as a city cop. His grandfather began his career in the city in 1921, the start of long line of family members on the city force. Andrew, who is close to 60, is perhaps one of the last cops left to remember call-box keys, and his departure will leave a void both in historic reference and old-time bravado.

But he was never afraid to say he was sorry. In the picture, he's visiting the home of a young boy who was struck by a police cruiser, putting him in a cast for the summer. Andrew was upset that no other cop or commander bothered to go, even if the accident was the child's fault.

Today's Crime Scene column goes into more detail of Andrew's career. He's known for his blunt, outspoken style, never afraid to speak his mind. And that got him into trouble, and endeared him to newspaper reporters.

Angry that cops stormed an apartment back in 2003 and shot and killed a man (who had killed someone else) without what Andrew thought was adequate negotiations, Andrew leaked a critical memo to a Baltimore Sun reporter. Commanders discovered the source, fired him and then reinstated him, but with banishment to the property division.

Andrew fought his discipline and for his lost pay all the way up the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in his favor. The city then gave up and last year Andrew got his money and a promotion to lead the tactical team. A year later, Andrew said the police commissioner called him into his office and asked if he was ready to retire.

Not many cops can boast of getting support in court from groups as varied as the police union, the ACLU and a committee for a free press. Most of the time, these groups are not exactly in agreement, especially when it comes to the release of information.

But Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, in a concurring opinion, offered one of the best defenses of whistle-blowers I've ever come across. He wrote, in part, that government scrutiny by the news media "is impossible without sources such as Michael Andrew" and that "it seems inimical to First Amendment principles to treat too summarily those who bring, often at some personal risk, its operations into public view."

The judge went on about how traditional media is losing ground and money as it struggles to deal with less revenue and a competing Internet, and said it's even more important now that people like Andrew step forward to help shine the light on government.

Wilkinson noted that Andrew was hardly passing along office gossip. "The matter about which Andrew spoke was not just an office quarrel or a routine personnel action," the judge wrote, "but a question of real public importance, namely whether a police shooting of a citizen was justified and whether the investigation of that shooting was less than forthcoming."

Andrew didn't just speak out to reporters. Here he is in some other moments:

Continue reading "Top police commander retires" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:23 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: East Baltimore, Top brass

February 17, 2011

Police commander testifies in slaying trial

The aftermath of the stabbing death of Veronica Williams outside a Baltimore court house -- for which her husband is now on trial -- allegations swirled that the suspect got special treatment from a top police commander.

Deputy Maj. Dan A. Lioli (left) was suspended after it was learned he had been in contact through text message with the suspect, well-known community activist named Cleaven L. Williams Jr.

Williams took the stand at his trial today and tearfully recounted problems with his wife. Williams has admitted to stabbing his wife but says it was not pre-meditated murder. He also has said he pleaded with the police officer who shot him twice to kill him, part of a plan for suicide by cop.

On Thursday, Lioi testified for the first time in public. The department had found no evidence of wrongdoing, though questions remained whether a warrant for Williams was not served as aggressively a it would've been for someone who did not have a cell phone number of top police officer.

The Baltimore Sun's Nick Madigan reports on Lioi's testimony:

Jurors heard from several members of the city police force, one of whom acknowledged under cross-examination that, four days before the killing, Williams had tried to turn himself in at the Eastern District precinct in response to a warrant charging him with assaulting his wife, but the warrant could not be located and Williams was told to leave.

“I knew him,” said Deputy Maj. Dan A. Lioi, recounting his history with Williams, a community activist. “We didn’t feel he was a flight risk.”

In the following days, after the warrant had been found, Lioi said he and Williams had been in touch several times by phone and text messages, trying to arrange a time for Williams to surrender. On Nov. 17, Williams told Lioi by phone that he was on his way to his lawyer’s office.

"’Let me get back to you,’” Williams said, and he hung up, according to Lioi.

About an hour after that, he learned that Williams had been arrested in the killing of his wife of almost 10 years. She was pregnant and had borne their three young children.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 5:47 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, Top brass

Man, 45, fatally stabbed at busy North Ave bus stop


A 45-year-old man was stabbed in the neck and killed Thursday afternoon after getting into an argument at a busy bus stop at North and Greenmount avenues.

The victim, who has not yet been identified, was waiting for the bus before 1 p.m. when he got into an argument with a young woman, said Detective Donny Moses, a police spokesman. The argument escalated and a man began fighting with the victim, he said.

He was stabbed in the neck, and ended up across the street at a Rite Aid store. Moses said a private medic in the area treated him, but he died a short time later at a local hospital.

Moses said police did not have a suspect but were reviewing camera footage and speaking to witnesses. The crime scene briefly shut down traffic both ways on North Avenue.

Delores Austin, who said she is a minister at a Northwest Baltimore church, said she picks up medications at the Rite Aid and was stranded at the store because her vehicle was behind the caution tape.

She said other bystanders were surprised at a stabbing occurring in broad daylight, but it didn’t alarm her. “What do they care? Don’t none of them care,” she said.

Austin said both of her sons were killed in violence, including son Titus Austin, who was sitting on the front steps of a house when he was killed by a stray bullet during a gunfight in 1991. She didn’t want to talk about their deaths, but said the persistent violence keeps driving residents away.

“A lot of people that moved out left because of this,” she said. “Crime isn’t down.”

Continue reading "Man, 45, fatally stabbed at busy North Ave bus stop" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

February 16, 2011

Chilling photos at Williams murder trial

The opening sentence to Tricia Bishop's story on the murder trial of the community activist:

The trial of Cleaven L. Williams Jr., who is charged with murder in his wife's stabbing death, opened Tuesday with the defense and prosecution agreeing on one thing: He did it.

The question is not whether Williams killed his wife outside a Baltimore courthouse, moments after she had been in court seeking a protective order against him, but whether the killing was premeditated or brought on by spontaneous rage.

It also was revealed at Tuesday's trial testimony that many believe Williams wanted to die after he stabbed his wife on East North Avenue, begging a police officer who shot him to finish the job.

Read Tricia's complete story here, and meanwhile look at the photos that were entered into evidence on Tuesday. Testimony in the trial continues today. Williams was a well-known community activist who marched in anti-crime walks with city leaders.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:56 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

A wrong turn, and a visitor's dim view of the city

Police and city officials have to fight crime on two fronts -- reality and perception. It hardly matters if the crime declines statistically if residents feel unsafe.

And perception can come from various places, such as the media -- shows like The Wire -- or a particular experience. I hear every week from people who think the police helicopter flying over their neighborhood is evidence of decline. One holdup on the block can mean crime is out of control, even if holdups went down 80 percent.

That brings me to Chiara Mapelli, a 15-year-old from Italy. Her family was visiting DC and decided to come up to Baltimore for a few days. But wrong directions on their GPS led them to East Baltimore where she, her sister, mom and dad were, according to her e-mail, "frightened of everything they saw."

I'm presenting her email below, knowing it will spark plenty of debate. I have no idea how they missed the Inner Harbor and ended upon east Lafayette Avenue, or if they actually witnessed three purse snatchings, or a rampant drug trade, or even "prostitution everywhere."

But does it matter? This was this girl's perception of our city and it was enough to send her family speeding back to DC's Georgetown neighborhood. Whether or not her account is accurate, it's doubtful that her next trip to the U.S. will include Baltimore.

Here is her letter:

Continue reading "A wrong turn, and a visitor's dim view of the city" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:24 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: City Hall, Confronting crime, East Baltimore, Neighborhoods

February 15, 2011

Suspect wrote letter about killing wife

The trial of Cleaven L. Williams, a community activist charged with killing his wife outside a Baltimore courthouse, is expected to get underway this morning with opening statements. But a hearing on Monday offered this bombshell, reported by Tricia Bishop:

Four days before Cleaven L. Williams Jr. stabbed his wife seven times on a Baltimore street, he wrote a letter outlining plans to kill her, according to testimony he gave in court Monday. "I figured that I had a [sexually transmitted disease] and I contracted it from my wife," Williams said, explaining that he wrote the undelivered letter because he was upset. "I write a lot, that's my vent."
Prosecutors on Monday had the police officer who shot Williams testify as to how the man begged to die, and there may be more explosive testimony, perhaps from city police commander who had been exchanging text messages with the suspect even as he was wanted on an arrest warrant. The incident raised questions about whether police acted appropriately in trying to apprehend Williams.

February 11, 2011

Trial begins of community leader charged in wife's death

From Baltimore Sun reporter Tricia Bishop:

The murder trial of Cleaven L. Williams Jr. — who's accused of fatally stabbing his pregnant wife outside a Baltimore courthouse in 2008 — began Friday morning with attorneys arguing whether the autopsy photos could be shown to jurors.

Veronica L. Williams was stabbed seven times in her face and neck, and the images taken by the medical examiner are described as graphic, showing wounds stretched wide to measure their depth.

"They're very shocking," said defense attorney Melissa Phinn. She contends that the photographs would prejudice jurors against her client, while prosecutor Kevin Wiggins said they are necessary to show "the extent of the injuries." The judge said he would allow them to be presented, with portions blocked out.

You may remember this case for another reason: the suspect was shot by a Baltimore police officer moments after the stabbing, and a witness urged the cop to fire again. The stabbing occurred just as the victim left court to obtain a protective order.

And later, a police commander was accused of sending text messages to the suspect, who was well known as a community activist and who went on police crime walks, as police were trying to serve an arrest warrant on him. The deputy major was later cleared but police studied whether the warrant for Williams had been handled outside normal procedures.

Reporter Melissa Harris, who is no longer at The Sun, wrote a long story on the Williams case.It includes this chilling account of the stabbing and the shooting of the suspect, picking up just as the victim was leaving court on East North Avenue:

Continue reading "Trial begins of community leader charged in wife's death" »

February 9, 2011

Baltimore police hunt robbery suspect

Baltimore police are searching for a man who held up a Family Dollar store at gunpoint in East Baltimore last month.

Police said the robbery occurred Jan. 6 about 12:30 p.m. The man walked into the story in the 1300 block of East Fayette St., threatened a clerk with a handgun and demanded money. He left with an undisclosed amount, walking south on Eden Street and then east on Lombard Street.

He then fled on foot southbound on Eden Street then eastbound on Lombard Street.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Baltimore Police City-Wide Robbery Unit at 410-366-6341. Police say he is suspected in other robberies in the area.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

February 8, 2011

Watch Baltimore fire live -- well, almost

UPDATE: The camera position has been changed and now shows only highway traffic.

UPDATE 2: Kelly Melman, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority, said a police officer for that agency first spotted the fire and trained the camera on the blaze because an exit ramp had to be shut down from I-95. The officer "was watching the fire to see if it growing and might involve closures along I-95," Melman said. When the fire died down, the officer turned the camera back to traffic along the highway, its normal location.

Baltimore firefighters are battling a 2-alarm blaze at the city's travel plaza, on O'Donnell Street and I-95. The fire is at the Roadway Inn, a three-story hotel.

Here's a link to a state transportation department camera so you can watch the fire live on your screen. Click on I-95 at O'Donnell Street.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

February 5, 2011

Men stabbed, shot in Baltimore

A man was shot in the stomach and another man was repeatedly stabbed in the upper body in separate, unrelated attacks Friday night and early Saturday in East and Northeast Baltimore, according to city police.

Continue reading "Men stabbed, shot in Baltimore" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore

January 26, 2011

SNOW !!!!


That's stating the obvious, I know, but it comes via Twitter, courtesy of the Baltimore Fire Department firefighters union #734. It's my way of passing along the latest public safety news!

Not to be outdone, Baltimore police put this up on Twitter: "DRIVING ADVISORY: Winter weather conditions are making area roads very slick. Please drive with care and consider staying home."

Of course, the rank and file firefighters and paramedics would be remiss if they didn't also remind you, again via Twitter, that the city continues to close fire companies to save money. So along with storm news, you get this:

Units closed to save money today are Engine 5 & Engine 8. Engine 43 is closed for maintenance. Use caution walking & driving in winter weather.

Engine 8 operates from a firehouse in the 1500 block of West LaFayette Avenue. The house also has a truck and a medic which are operational Engine 5 is out of the Roman Kaminski station in the 2100 block of Eastern Ave.

But enough politics. The last Twitter from Baltimore police was last night, with a man shot in the back in the 800 block of Lennox St. No word yet on his condition. Meanwhile, Liz F. Kay is reporting that the snow you see this morning is "just a teaser" of what we'll see later today and tonight.

Check out the rest of The Baltimore Sun for more snow news, including accidents and road conditions, and closing information. Or better yet, head to Frank Roylance's Maryland Weather blog, Let's see if the adage prove true -- more snow equals less crime.

January 24, 2011

Two killed in East, Southwest Baltimore

A 36-year-old man was shot and killed Sunday night in East Baltimore when men began shooting from a white van that pulled up alongside him at a traffic light, and a 31-year-old man was killed Monday afternoon in Southwest Baltimore.

The killings mean the city, with 13 killings, has surpassed its total for all of last January, though the number is still below the average total for the month in previous years.

An officer found Antonio Lamont Lee, 36, in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, slumped over the passenger seat. Lee had been waiting at a stop light in a 2010 Acura sedan in the 1400 block of E. Monument St. when the van pulled up and suspects opened fire, police said.

The van turned northbound on Caroline Street then turned west on Madison Street. Lee was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital, which is a block away from where the shooting took place, where he was pronounced dead at 11:20 p.m., police said.

Continue reading "Two killed in East, Southwest Baltimore" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:23 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore, Southwest Baltimore

January 11, 2011

Two more people killed in Baltimore

Separate shooting left two men dead in Northeast and West Baltimore, bringing to eight the number of slayings in the first 11 days of the year.

And that doesn't count the police officer and the man shot and killed during the melee outside a nightclub near downtown over the weekend. Details of that incident are still being sorted out, but appears the officer was shot and killed by friendly fire.

See The Sun's homicide map.

The latest shootings occurred Monday night -- the first about 9:12 p.m. inside a house in the 3000 block of Harford Road, in Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello. A 26-year-old man was killed. The second occurred about 11:40 p.m. in the 600 block of North Carrollton Ave., in Harlem Park. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:15 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore, West Baltimore

January 5, 2011

Men shot in Baltimore, police seize more guns

UPDATE: Word just came from Baltimore Police that the shooting near where the autistic man had been shot on Sunday was self-inflicted

Three people were shot and wounded overnight in Baltimore, including a man wounded just one street over from where a autistic man was shot and killed in while standing on his front porch with his dog.

No word yet on whether the shootings are related, but there's now been two in what has been described as a quiet neighborhood of Hamilton Hills in Northeast Baltimore.

Continue reading "Men shot in Baltimore, police seize more guns" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:08 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore, West Baltimore

January 2, 2011

Year begins with two killings

No more time for navel-gazing on 2010's crime declines - the first day of the year brought two killings, including one juvenile. Another juvenile was also shot and wounded.

In the Curtis Bay stabbing that left a 21-year-old man dead:

Officers found two men lying near Fairhaven Avenue with lacerations to their torsos. Detective Donny Moses said Saturday night that the stabbing arose from a dispute between two houses.

In McElderry Park:

A second man was killed Saturday, just before 5 p.m. in East Baltimore. Moses said officers were called to the 500 block of N. Lakewood Ave. where a 16-year-old was found with multiple gunshot wounds.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:28 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore, South Baltimore

January 1, 2011

Bealefeld, Bernstein hit the streets to fight crime

Baltimore's top cop and about to be top prosecutor hit the streets early Saturday to survey the crime scene. They found little, which in their world couldn't be better news.

This was the upcoming State's Attorney's Gregg Bernstein's second ride with cops and he got a slow night, though he did see a few traffic stop and ran into a house where a man had been hit over the head with a glass bottle. He missed double stabbings in Curtis Bay and downtown, but experienced a night of unusually slow crime and even lower crowds for the all night party.

"There are more cops than people," Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III noted about 30 minutes after the fireworks had ended, as he walked the Inner Harbor's waterfront walkway. In police parlance, it's simply "the bricks."

The photo-op of the night?

Bealefeld and Bernstein pushing a broken-down car out of an intersection on East Madison Street.

It's certainly valuable for the incoming top prosecutor to get a feel for the streets and the cops, but Bernstein enjoys a close bond with Bealefeld, who took the unusual step of openly campaigning for him to unseat the sitting state's attorney.

Also in the car was Bernstein's wife, Sheryl Goldstein, who runs the mayor's crime office.

Bernstein didn't get too much crime to prosecute in the opening hours of 2011, But soon he'll be pouring over the files of these very same officers, deciding what and how and whether to prosecute the people they're locking up on nights like this.

As for Bealefeld, he's hoping for more nights this.

December 29, 2010

Parking ticket for doing Lord's Work?

Nobody likes a parking ticket. Nobody thinks they deserves a parking ticket. And everyone thinks the parking agents should ticket somebody else.

I know I've pontificated lately here and in Crime Scenes. A man ticketed while double parking to throw a laptop computer in his house so he didn't have to walk home with it and risk getting robbed. Hundreds of parking tickets dismissed because agents weren't notified of court hearings.

People weighed in on both stories, particularly on the one on the man with the computer. He was either a solid citizen penalized for trying to stay out of harm's way or a scofflaw who felt the rules didn't apply to him.

Well, now comes Kashi Walker, seen in the picture. He's an associate minister for an East Baltimore church who, at the behest of police and fire officials, opened up his sanctuary for the relatives of the victims of Tuesday's carbon monoxide poisoning on Guilford Avenue. Two people died and three others were seriously injured.

He parked in a no-parking zone -- restricted on Tuesday's from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to make way for street cleaners (the car is also shown in the picture). But the street just ahead was blocked by fire trucks, police cars and other emergency vehicles. He got a ticket anyway.

"It's a shame," he told me.

A spokeswoman for the city's Department of Transportation said that agents weren't out looking for parking violators at the scene of a tragedy. Rather, she said the agent had noticed that Walker had parked in that spot on Monday, and again Tuesday morning, and had returned there to see if the car was still there around 12:30 or so. She said the agent thought Walker was taking advantage of the emergency scene to park where he shouldn't.

Walker points out that even if his car was there all day Monday and Tuesday morning (he said it wasn't), it was perfectly legal during those hours. So why, he says, would the agents have marked his car for special attention?

Another good one for the judge. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:01 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore

December 25, 2010

Relatives mourn slain 14-year-old; shootings pile up overnight

Issac Joyner's Christmas presents are tucked away in a closet in his aunt's house: shirts, sweaters, a new camera. His aunt had planned to buy the 14-year-old a pair of new shoes on Christmas Eve. Instead, she spent the day comforting relatives and planning for his funeral after his fatal shooting Thursday night, the Sun's Julie Scharper reports

"His Christmas gifts are all here," said the aunt, Michelle Joyner. "And he's not here to open them."

Meanwhile, the violence didn't stop for the holiday elsewhere in the city. Two people were reported stabbed in West Baltimore and a man was shot in the 1500 block of N. Caroline St. on Christmas Eve, police reported on their Twitter page. In the early morning, men were found shot in the 4400 block of Granada Ave and 1900 Greenmount Ave. Homicide detectives were investigating at least one of the incidents.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, North Baltimore, Northwest Baltimore, West Baltimore

December 19, 2010

Fatal East Baltimore fire investigated as arson

A fire in East Baltimore that killed a man Saturday morning is being investigated as an arson, city police said. That makes it a homicide, and the first arson murder since 2006, according to police records.

Police spokesman Kevin Brown did not provide additional information and city fire spokesman Kevin Cartwright said he did not have any updates on the investigation. The victim has not been identified, though a neighbor said he believed the victim was a friend of the home’s owner.

The fire was reported at about 6:15 a.m. Saturday in the 1400 block of Homestead Ave., not far from where six members of a family died in a blaze days earlier. Earlier this week, investigators also said that the fire that ravaged The Block, the city's red light district, had been set by "human hands" but stopped sort of calling it an arson.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

Three fatally shot in city; two men killed in Anne Arundel

After a relatively peaceful week, three people were fatally shot in Baltimore on Saturday, while five others were injured in shootings.

One of the killings, the shooting of a woman in the 3100 block of Monument St., was believed to be part of a murder suicide also involving the death of a man in the 3700 block of Ravenwood Ave. Only one victim of the weekend violence had been identified by late Sunday, 23-year-old Brian Anthony Taylor, who was shot in the chest in the 6000 block of Majorie Lane near the county line Saturday night.

Then there was the discovery of a 42-year-old woman wrapped in plastic in the basement of her Northeast Baltimore home, which is now considered a homicide.

Anne Arundel County also saw two killings in less than an hour, in Severn and Glen Burnie. A food delivery driver was robbed and stabbed, and a 43-year-old man was also fatally stabbed during a fight at a Glen Burnie shopping center.

December 16, 2010

Parking fine dismissed

When we last left Whit MacCuaig of Gough Street, he was fighting a $252 ticket for double parking outside his house. He said he briefly double parked to secure his laptop computer so he wouldn't have to carry it on what usually is a long walk in the dark after finding a hard-to-find parking space.

MacCuaig didn't have to fight hard. The parking agent, identified on the ticket as N. Scott, failed to show for the hearing and District Judge Charles A. Chiapparelli quickly found him not guilty. MacCuaig was happy to avoid a $252 fine but was angry at having taken a day off from work and spending time preparing his case. "What a waste," he said after the hearing.

The parking issue sparked a wide debate. Some felt MacCuaig deserved his fine and shouldn't expect to get a pass on the law. Others felt the parking agent should have used common sense and skipped over his car.

MacCuaig had parked on Gough Street, where it is wide enough to fit three cars. He argued he wasn't blocking traffic, as his citation read, and had left plenty of room for other cars to get by. And, he pointed out, he was trying to stay safe in a neighborhood hit hard by muggers in recent months.

He didn't want to walk back to his house carrying a computer he thought made him a target for attack. We'll now never know what a judge through of his case. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:44 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: East Baltimore

December 15, 2010

Young shooting victim goes shopping

I saw Carlos Woods two years ago inside his rowhouse on Chapel Street in East Baltimore. He was sitting in a wheelchair a few days before Christmas opening a a gift -- a Superman sketchbook.

The time I saw him before that he was on a stretcher being rushed to an ambulance amid a frenzied and angry crowd. A cop screamed for people to get out of the way, "so we can get this baby out of here!"

Carlos was hit in the head by a stray bullet in April 2001, when he was just 2 years old, while retrieving a juice bottle from his doorway. Somehow he survived, though he suffers from symptoms similar to cerebral palsy. His smile will break your heart.

I went back to see Carlos today as she joined classmates at the Mondawmin Mall. I'll have more details on the visit in Thursday's Crime Scenes. It was a touching moment for Carlos and everyone else. Teachers and staff at the William S. Baer School took 188 students to the mall, a tremendous undertaking given that most are in wheelchairs and about have require feeding tubes to eat.

Above are pictures of Carlos with volunteer Rob Paymer and meeting Santa (Luke Durant) at Mondawmin.

Here is perhaps the saddest thing I learned when visiting Carlos at his home in December 2008:\

The man who shot Carlos, Kenneth A. Kelley, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder and was sentenced to 11 years in prison, with time starting when he was first incarcerated April 27, 2001. State prison officials said he was released Aug. 27, having served a little more than seven years, and is on probation. He now lives two blocks from Woods.
Here is some for from that column two years ago:

Continue reading "Young shooting victim goes shopping" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 4:00 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northwest Baltimore

December 14, 2010

East Baltimore fire claims six lives

This morning's tragic fire on Homewood Street in East Baltimore brings the number of fire deaths in the city this year to 18, one short of all of last year's totals. It's also another in a string of major the fires the department has faced in the past eight days.

A five-alarm fire burned businesses on Baltimore's downtown adult entertainment district on Dec. 6, followed by another five-alarm blaze in Mount Vernon the next day. This week, there was a three-alarm fire in a storage company on Russell Street in South Baltimore.

And now six people are dead on Homewood Street (photo by The Sun's Kim Hairston). It's the deadliest fire in the city since Jan. 20, when four people were killed in a fire on East Oliver Street. The fire on Homewood was first reported about 4:45 a.m. and spread in the cold wind. Firefighters found the bodies about 6 a.m.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore

December 8, 2010

Man pleads guilty in home invasion robberies

A 65-year-old New Jersey man has pleaded guilty to committing two home invasion robberies and to holding up a business. Daniel Chase of Browns Mill, N.J., faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in March.

One person, Constantine Frank, died in one of the attacks on South Lakewood Avenue in Baltimore. The Sun's Justin Fenton reported last year that Frank, 54, owned pool halls and shopping centers in Baltimore County.

Frank had owned Precision Vending and knew one of the robbers in the scheme and had visited Frank and knew the security and layout of the building. On July 29, 2009, prosecutors said Chase and another man got inside disguised as package delivery men.

The plea agreement filed in federal court says Chase took out a gun from a false package and held Frank captive. The two men then used zip-ties and duct tape to restrain Frank and stole more than $10,000.

They left Frank "bound and restrained," prosecutors with the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office said, "knowing that he was sweating profusely and in obvious discomfort." Prosecutors said the suspect called one of Frank's other business and told a person on the phone, "Your boss is in his office and he is not doing too good." Police Founf Frank conscious, restrained and unable t speak.

He died on Aug. 11 of a brain hemorrhage.

For more on other crimes: 

Continue reading "Man pleads guilty in home invasion robberies" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:01 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Baltimore County, East Baltimore, Harford County

December 6, 2010

Man killed in Arundel, city

All in all, the weekend in Baltimore appeared relatively quiet, with a few shootings and at least one homicide:

* On Sunday, a 25-year-old man was in critical condition after being shot in the head outside the 4400 block of Belvieu Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. The Sun's Justin Fenton notes on his Twitter page that this is the same block in which a man was fatally stabbed on Thanksgiving.

* Also on Sunday, city police were investigating a shooting that left a 31-year-old man wounded at Linwood and Orleans streets in East Baltimore.

* A 26-year-old man shot in the chest late Friday night in the 1900 block of E. 30th St. in East Baltimore died a few minutes later at good Samaritan Hospital.

In Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County, police were investigating a shooting outside a bar. The Sun's Larry Carson wrote:

Anne Arundel County police are searching for a man who used a rifle to shoot 30-year-old Kelly Terrell Fisher early Saturday outside Dietrich's Tavern in Glen Burnie. Police said the suspect got out of a vehicle and began shooting at Fisher, of Gatewood Court in Glen Burnie, at about 12:13 a.m. Hit multiple times in the torso, he was rushed to Baltimore-Washington Medical Center, where he later died. Police believe the two may have been acquainted.

On Sunday, police announced an arrest:

During their investigation, Homicide Unit detectives were able to identify the shooter in this incident as 33 year-old Clayton Avila Battle of 8005 Nolpark Court in Glen Burnie.  On December 4, 2010 detectives obtained a warrant for his arrest and at approximately 11:30 p.m. officers observed and stopped a vehicle on I-97 at I-695 in Glen Burnie in which Battle was traveling.  He was found to be a passenger in the car and was arrested without incident. 




Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Anne Arundel County, East Baltimore, Northwest Baltimore

December 1, 2010

Nickel theft goes international

It started with a call for a routine burglary.

It was anything but routine.

Someone cut a fence, backed a truck onto a lot of a nondescript warehouse on East Biddle Street and made off with shipping containers filled with nickel briquettes and ferrochrome, metals used to keep steel from corroding.

The total haul: 321,872 pounds. The total value: $2.6 million.

What started as an investigation by the Baltimore Police Department's Pawn Shop Unit grew into a federal probe that reached companies in Switzerland and Australia and led to charges filed this week by the U.S. Secret Service.

The owner of a West Baltimore scrap yard, Alan A. Verschleisser, 65, has been charged with federal crimes and is awaiting trial. He is pictured at left in a city police mug shot. According to court documents, the suspect just couldn't unload the goods. He tried a company in Switzerland, but officials there quickly forwarded the e-mail he sent -- boasting he had 20 tons of nickel in pillows -- to its original owner, a mining company in Australia, who got the e-mail to the police.

More details on the case in today's Crime Scenes

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:12 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, West Baltimore

November 29, 2010

Eighteen-year-old gets 35 years in city killing

An 18-year-old man convicted of first-degree murder was sentenced by a city judge to life in prison, with all but 35 years suspended, for the fatal shooting of a man in an East Baltimore carryout, officials said. Prosecutors say they had asked for a double-life sentence.

Damien Davis, who was 16 at the time, was convicted of fatally shooting 21-year-old Paris Richardson in the head at a carryout in the 2500 block of E. Hoffman Street in May of 2008.  Judge Pamela J. White handed down a sentence of two concurrent life sentences with all but 35 years suspended.

A co-defendant, Darius Duppins, 20, is awaiting a January trial.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

November 27, 2010

Stabbing reported downtown

Just hours after this morning's running gun battle up North Calvert Street, in which a city police officer was shot and seriously wounded, Baltimore officials are reporting that a man was just stabbed in the chest at Light and Lombard streets.

More crime near the Inner Harbor.

There are no other details, other than that the victim's injuries are not considered life threatening. Baltimore police spokesman Kevin Brown provided this update to some other crimes in the area overnight:

Continue reading "Stabbing reported downtown" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Downtown, East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore

November 22, 2010

City police search for robbery suspect

An alert from Baltimore Police:

On November 3, 2010, An 85 year old man was walking into his house in the 300 blk E Lafayette Ave. He was approached by a suspect who began to choke him and then robbed him. The victim was not injured during the incident but money was taken from him.
Attached are surveillance photos taken from the area.
The suspect is described as a B/M, 5'11, 180 pounds, 35-40 years old.
Anyone with information should contact the Eastern District at

Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:50 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore

November 21, 2010

Corrections officer slain in city; investigation leads to "standoff"

A city corrections officer was killed early Tuesday in East Baltimore, and the investigation into her death led to an hours long standoff in Northwest Baltimore that police believed was a barricade situation.

Sharon Jones, 28, was fatally shot in the upper body at about 3:40 a.m. while at a friend's house in the 1700 block of Aisquith St. in East Baltimore. Police later visited her home in the Cylburn neighborhood, where they found blood on the door and believed a man was inside. He wasn't, and police were searching for a "person of interest."

Jones was one of two three people killed over the weekend in Baltimore, including a 19-year-old man named Carlton Sellman who was shot in the stomach about 5 p.m. Saturday on Route 40 near Swann Avenue, near the Edmondson Village Shopping Center. Police also identified a man killed in a triple shooting on Poplar Grove St. as 29-year-old Jerry Thomas.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 8:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore, Northwest Baltimore, West Baltimore

November 18, 2010

Two shootings in Baltimore

Baltimore police issued this statement on an overnight shooting in West Baltimore and an update on a fatal shooting that occurred Wednesday afternoon:

11/18/10 - 0230 Hrs
2900 Blk of Edison Hwy (Northeast District)
On the above date at approximately 02:30 Hrs officers responded to the 3400 Blk of Elmora Avenue in response to a shooting call for service.  Upon arrival they discovered the victim (b/m 16yrs of age), suffering from a gunshot wound to the arm.  The victim advised that he was shot as he walking within the 2900 Blk of Edison Hwy when he was approached from the rear by two males, one of which who asked him to turn around.  As he did, one brandished a handgun and fired, striking the victim.  He was transported to an area hospital and expected to recover.  At present, no suspects or motives.  
HOMICIDE (Additional Info)
11/17/10 - 12:37 Hrs
2000 Blk of W. Lanvale Street (Western District)
On the above date and time officers responded to the location for report of a shooting.  Upon arrival they discovered victim, Marcus Brown (b/m 2/2/90), laying on the sidewalk suffering from apparent gunshot wounds.  Medics responded and transported Mr. Brown to Shock Trauma were he was pronounced at 13:25 Hrs.  At present, no suspects or motives.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:38 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, West Baltimore

November 15, 2010

Police make arrest in weekend slaying

Baltimore police have charged an uncle with killing his nephew Saturday night in Highlandtown. Here is a release just issued by city police:

400 Blk of East Street
11/13/2010 - 21:51 Hrs
In reference to the stabbing death of David Lawrence Hopkins (b/m 12/4/90), Dewayne Hopkins (b/m 12/23/65) [pictured at left] has been arrested and charged with murder yesterday evening. It appears that the incident stemmed from a family altercation. Suspect (uncle) victim (nephew). In the interim, please find attached his booking photo.

Meanwhile, here's some additional information on a shooting:

1700 Blk of Ellamont Ave (SWD)
11/14/2010 - 17:04 Hrs
On the above date and time officers responded to the location in response to a shooting call for service. Upon arrival officers located the victim, (b/m 12/29/88) lying in the grass suffering from gunshot wounds to a hand and leg.  Same was transported to an area hospital for treatment and expected to recover.  He advised that he was walking within the block when a small vehicle approached and a male exited, fired at him, returned to the vehicle, and fled.  No word as of yet on suspects or motives.

Here are some updated crime stats from the police:

Continue reading "Police make arrest in weekend slaying" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:25 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, East Baltimore

Violent weekend in city, counties

Shootings and other violence marred the weekend, and it wasn't limited to the city. There was a stabbing at a mall in Anne Arundel County, a teen arrested in a killing at a Glen Burnie pizza shop, a shooting in downtown Baltimore and windows shot out of cars in Cockeysville.

The picture here by Colby Ware for the Baltimore Sun shows a vigil held Sunday for a slain tow truck driver, 23-year-old Andy Joyce, who was shot and killed Nov. 1 in West Baltimore. 

Here are links to the stories:

A teenager was shot in the stomach Saturday night after he exchanged words with the driver and passengers of a vehicle in downtown Baltimore, near St. Paul and Lexington streets shortly after 10 p.m. A few minutes earlier, in the Highlandtown area, police were called to the 400 block of South East Avenue, where they found a 19-year-old man, David Lawrence Hopkins, who had been stabbed. Hopkins died Sunday.

A recent series of armed robberies on college campuses has Maryland students and security personnel on high alert. At least five people were held up on three campuses last week — at knife point at Loyola University Maryland and at gunpoint at both Towson University and the Essex campus of the Community College of Baltimore County.

Police have made three arrests in the Saturday night stabbing of an 18-year-old in the Arundel Mills Mall. The stabbing occurred at about 8:30 p.m. in the mall's food court, police said. Officers on foot patrol in the mall found the victim with a stab wound in the back.

Baltimore County police are investigating a shooting Sunday afternoon near the Loch Raven Reservoir in Cockeysville, where windows on several vehicles were shot out as the drivers slowed to navigate a bend in the road, said Cpl. George Erhardt. In Prince George's County, police are investigating more than 100 shootings of car windshields with a BB gun.

Anne Arundel County police have arrested a Pasadena teenager in the Friday night shooting death of a 20-year-old Glen Burnie man in a pizza shop on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.

Horns blaring and yellow lights flashing and twirling, a caravan of tow trucks from a dozen companies filled the 500 block of Mosher St. in West Baltimore Sunday night, the same block where 23-year-old Andy Joyce was shot to death two weeks ago while making a service call that his boss says would have netted the young driver $15.

November 4, 2010

New plan to combat city vacants

Baltimore's mayor has unveiled a new plan to more quickly deal with the thousands of vacant houses that pockmark the city's landscape, such as at left in this picture by The Sun's Jed Kirschbaum shortly after a fire ravaged a string of vacants in West Baltimore. The houses not only spread blight, but attract crime, and as we recently saw in West Baltimore, can feed the flames of fire consuming entire city blocks.

The Sun's Julie Scharper wrote:

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she would accelerate redevelopment of Baltimore's more than 30,000 vacant properties by cutting bureaucracy and speeding the sales of city-owned properties.

"Vacant houses are more than just an eyesore," Rawlings-Blake said at a Wednesday morning news conference. "Just ask someone who lives next door to one."

Vacant properties constitute one of the city's most pernicious problems, depressing home values and blighting the landscape. Officials have counted 16,000 unoccupied buildings, which harbor vagrants, attract vermin and pose fire hazards. The city owns 10,000 of the vacant properties, on 4,000 of which sit empty structures.

Last month, The Sun's Jessica Anderson brought us to Calhoun Street, where two simultaneous four-alarm arson fires on Sept. 8 destroyed two sides of a city block and taxed the Baltimore Fire Department to the point it needed unprecedented help from neighboring counties. Fire trucks from as far away as Washington responded.

The mayor's plan was already in the words when the fires broke out, but they served as yet another reminder of one of Baltimore's most persistent urban ills, and one that stands out to anyone who drives through these areas.

Here are the mayor's prepared remarks on her plan for vacant houses:

Continue reading "New plan to combat city vacants" »

November 1, 2010

Rally to oppose new youth jail

Several hundred people gathered on Paul Laurence Dunbar High School's football field Sunday afternoon to protest state plans to build a $100 million, 230-bed detention facility in Baltimore for juveniles criminally charged as adults.

The two-hour rally culminated in a candle-lit march to the proposed construction site, a quarter-mile away next to the Baltimore City Detention Center, where protesters — chanting "educate, don't incarcerate" — used bolt-cutters to strip away the chain link fence protecting the property. Once inside, they planted yellow signs reading "Money for jobs and education, not jails" on the grounds and left books behind as a symbolic message.

"This is our property," declared Deverick Murray, vice president of programming for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, which describes itself as "Baltimore's progressive policy think tank" and helped organize the event.

Juveniles facing adult charges, typically for violent crimes, are now held in a wing of the Baltimore City Detention Center, which the U.S. Department of Justice has called inadequate. The new facility, in the works for five years, would provide a separate space to keep teens away from the adults, which corrections officials say is desperately needed. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:56 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: East Baltimore

October 28, 2010

Boyfriend arrested in E. Baltimore stabbing

Police have arrested and charged the boyfriend of a woman who was found fatally stabbed on an East Baltimore sidewalk Monday evening.

Shakarian Frazier, 31, was being sought since Monday night, when police say four witnesses saw him stab 48-year-old Mary Williams during an argument in the 2000 block of E. Oliver. Police recovered the murder weapon at the scene - it was resting on the steps of a vacant home near a large pool of blood.

Police wrote in charging documents that Frazier and Williams had a long history of domestic violence, though court records show that they never sought intervention from police and the court system.

Williams' daughter told me on Tuesday that Frazier had just gotten out of jail, where he had been held on a gun charge, and that he had been abusive upon returning home. "He never put his hands on my mother until my grandfather passed away," the daughter said.

Court records show Frazier has a long history of convictions for drug dealing and drug possession, in 2007 receiving a 20-year sentence in which all but four months were suspended. He would have still been on that probation when he was convicted of possession of a firearm and drug charges in February of this year, and it's unclear why that did not trigger a violation of his probation on the 20-year suspended sentence. He received two years for the new charges, and appears to have served less than eight months - not necessarily uncommon for a charge considered "non-violent." We've got a few calls out to try to get some clarity on the situation. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:57 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

October 25, 2010

Woman fatally stabbed in East Baltimore

A 47-year-old woman was fatally stabbed Monday night in East Baltimore's Broadway East neighborhood, police said. Details were scant, but police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said it was possibly domestic related and homicide detectives were investigating. A source close to the family identified the victim as Mary Williams, who he said lived a few blocks away from where the stabbing took place. When I got there, the crime lab was finishing up with the scene - a pool of blood at the base of the steps of a vacant row home a few doors down from a corner chicken store. A fire department engine later pulled up to rinse the blood away, as a family popped their heads out of the front door to see what was going on.


Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

Weekend violence

Weekend violence in Baltimore claimed at least two lives on Saturday and shootings on Sunday left another four injured.

Saturday night, a 20-year-old was shot about 9:30 p.m. in back of a house in the 2100 block of E. Monument St. And earlier that afternoon, a man was fatally shot on Fayette Street in West Baltimore.

That shooting claimed the life of a 25-year-old man who was wounded in the head about 3:30 p.m. in the 2100 block of West Fayette St., less than a block from Bon Secours Hospital. The Sun's Jessica Anderson was at the scene:

Residents within the taped-off block sat with their heads in their hands as an officer snapped photos of the crime scene that appeared to be on the north sidewalk between two trees.

As diverted cars rolled past Wilbur Keeton's front door, he said, "I'm used to it. I shouldn't say that, but "I'm used to it."

The 59-year-old city native said he grew up several blocks away in the 1950s, but he spent much of his adult life in Catonsville. He returned to the Penrose neighborhood after losing his suburban home several years ago.

"The neighborhood has changed so much," he said, saying that neighbors are less involved, less social. He said he normally does not stay outside, saying drug dealers had regularly perched on the neighboring homes' front steps.

"Things have changed," he said.
On Sunday, three people were shot and wounded at East 20th and Kennedy Street, and another man was shot in the chest during what police said was a robbery at a store at North Warwick Avenue and Franklin Street.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore, West Baltimore

October 12, 2010

7 killed from Friday through Monday

For those of you trying to keep track, here's a list of violence in Baltimore that started Friday afternoon and went through Monday morning. A full account of the mayhem can be found here. There have now been 171 slayings in the city this year, compared with 176 at this time last year:

Friday, 2:30 p.m.: Sterling Palmer, 78, found fatally stabbed inside his house in the 2600 block of Edison Highway.

Saturday, 12:01 a.m.: Man, 51, found fatally shot in the stomach in the 3100 block of Grantley Ave.

Saturday, 2:19 a.m.: A 42-year-old man reported being shot in the ankle while being robbed in the 300 block of N. High St. at Old Town Mall. He walked into the Central District police station on East Baltimore Street to report his wounds.

Saturday, 8:15 p.m.: Daryll Hood, 22, fatally shot in the head one block from his home in the 4700 block of Shamrock Ave. in Belair-Edison.

Saturday, 8:53 p.m.: Travis Lane, 19, found with bullet wounds to the side and chest in an alley off the 3500 block of N. Calvert St. in Oakenshawe. Police say this shooting is related to the shooting 20 minutes earlier in Belair-Edison. Lane was pronounced dead at Union Memorial Hospital.

Saturday, 11:49 p.m.: James Ingram, 46, found shot multiple times in the 3000 block of Pressbury St. Pronounced dead on the scene.

Sunday, 1:42 a.m.: Dennis Waddell, 33, fatally shot in the 1600 block of Warwick Ave. in Coppin Heights. A 28-year-old was shot and wounded in same incident.

Sunday, 4:47 p.m.: Police find a man in his early 50s dead inside a vacant rowhouse in the 800 block N. Fremont Ave. in Harlem Park. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

Sunday, 6 p.m.: A 35-year-old man was stabbed in the 3800 block of Rogers Ave. in Pimlico. Police said he had been mowing his lawn at his house when a man got out of a car and stabbed him in the chest, arm and back. He was being treated at an area hospital.

Sunday, 9 p.m.: A man shot in the ankle in the 3300 block of Ingleside Ave.

Monday, 9:25 a.m.: An adult male is shot in the head and killed in back of rowhouses in the 2600 block of Shirley Ave. in Park Heights.

Source: Baltimore Police Department

October 6, 2010

City school police refuse to name officer who shot man

In January, Baltimore police reversed a short-lived policy in which they stopped naming officers who fire their weapons. The police commissioner decided to be upfront and accountable with citizens, and he instead modified the policy to make the names public 48 hours after an incident.

But on Sunday, a school police officer shot and wounded a masked robbery suspect. The officer had confronted him after witnesses said a Family Dollar Store on Harford Road was being held up by armed men. In the end, no weapon was found.

There has always been confusion when giving out information that crosses police jurisdictions. No one wants to step on another agency's toes, so in the end the public gets less information than it deserves.

Baltimore homicide detectives are investigating the shooting to determine whether it's legal and within department policy. But school police are investigating the break-in, even though it wasn't on school grounds, and are responsible for charging the suspect once he gets out of the hospital.

But city police refuse to name the school police officer, even on Tuesday, 48 hours after the shooting, saying that's up to school police because he's their employee. And school police refuse to release the name on the advice of their lawyers.

The Baltimore Sun fought hard -- even making the issue part of a lawsuit aimed at forcing more information out of the department -- to convince city police to not change their policy so we could not just report the names but determine whether the officers had a past history of shootings, among other things.

Now we have city schools saying their attorneys won't allow the release of the name until the investigation is complete, and city police saying they're free to release the names of their cops when they want.

This double-standard is not good for anyone.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:14 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore, Police shootings, Top brass

October 5, 2010

Man fleeing police crashes into car

A man fleeing police in a stolen Mercedes Monday night in East Baltimore struck another vehicle being driven by a 26-year-old woman and occupied by her 6-year-old son, police said this morning.

The child was taken to Johns Hopkins Children's Center but did not appear to suffer any injuries, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. The woman and the suspect also were not injured.

Police charged Antoine Chesley, 31, of the 200 block of Mason Court in Southeast Baltimore, with auto theft and various traffic violations.

Guglielmi said that about 6:40 p.m., an Eastern District officer saw the man walking down the street in Latrobe Homes while clutching his waistband. The spokesman and the officer saw the man get into a 1999 Mercedes Benz and drive away.

Police said officer put a description out for the suspect, who be believed to be armed, "and attempted to follow at a safe distance behind. Guglielmi said about 90 second later, the Mercedes struck a 2001 Acura at North Broadway and East Federal Street.

Guglielmi said the man ran from the crash but was caught a few blocks away. The spokesman also said it appeared that he had been drinking, but results of a breathalyzer test were not immediately available.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:48 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, East Baltimore

October 4, 2010

Weekend without any killings ends with school police officer shooting

After the weekend of September 10-13, we reported that the city had achieved - for the first time since April - a weekend without a homicide.

This weekend we can report an even better feat: no shootings.

That makes two weekends in the past four weeks without a killing. Chalk it up to whatever you like, but that's a good thing no matter how you slice it.

Technically, there was one shooting, but police say the victim was a masked man in the process of robbing a dollar store Sunday night, who was shot by a city schools police officer. He was shot once in the upper body and taken to an area hospital, and police are searching for two alleged accomplices who got away. If it is ruled justified, as most are, it will not count toward the city's annual total.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:57 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore, Police shootings

September 23, 2010

Shootings "like an underworld war"

[This post has been updated]

Marie Daramy calls it an “underworld war.”

It used to be that her street in East Baltimore was full of drug dealers – they sat on the steps, hung out on the corners. Residents knew this, and when a shooting broke out, she said it was easy to chalk it up to the activity outside.

These days, the street is typically clear, and the overt dealing is largely a memory. But the violence persists.

“This place was full, and every house had a drug dealer,” said Daramy, who has lived in her home for 20 years. “[Now], you don’t know who, you don’t know why. It’s like an underworld war.”

On Thursday morning, police were back on her street, the 1500 block of N. Broadway, which splits the Oliver and Broadway East communities. A man was shot multiple times in the torso and found in front of a home about 10:12 a.m. Homicide detectives huddled over the blood-stained limestone steps, where a cap and a can of Sprite were left behind.

By late afternoon, the Fire Department had washed away the blood and police had posted two cars on the corner, with officers passing out crime watch pamphlets. The daughter of the 95-year-old woman who lives at the home where the body was found said her mother has dementia and did not hear the shots.

“Did somebody get hurt?” the mother asked.

Yes, somebody got hurt, her daughter said. Killed, in fact.

Continue reading "Shootings "like an underworld war"" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:50 AM | | Comments (52)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

September 22, 2010

Fixing a playground to rid community of crime

The caretaker of Ark Church, Milton Hill is gone -- killed two months ago, police say, for his scooter -- but on Tuesday the parishioners joined with the cops who joined with the neighbors to spruce up a park near the church that had become an open-air drug market.

At left, Monica Lopossay captures Carolyn Jasper cleaning up the park.

It's one of those stories we've seen time and time again. Even the residents are a bit skeptical -- Carolyn Pitt told reporter Jessica Anderson, "They are doing a great job, but we don't know how long it's going to last."

Just Monday on East Preston Street, a man and woman were shot, and the Eastern District now leads the city with 32 slayings so far this year. And so the community joined forces as part of "Operation Good Faith" to clean up Aiken Playground.

The question remains, as always, what happens next. Hours later in West and Northeast Baltimore, three more people were shot.

As Jessica wrote:

While a set of rusted monkey bars and two worn wooden jungle gyms remained, a fresh coat of green, yellow and orange paint was left to dry on a playground wall.

Sylvester Toles, a member of the Ark Church, admitted he wasn't excited about the cleanup at first, after a long day at a moving company. But the 54-year-old said "the preacher wanted us to do it for the kids, to make it presentable for the kids. Somebody's got to show that somebody cares," he said.

As he worked up a sweat, he said, "I feel like I've accomplished something." (photo at left by Monica Lopossay).
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:48 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore, Neighborhoods

September 21, 2010

Shot Hopkins doctor improving

The Johns Hopkins doctor who was shot during last week's standoff in a hospital building is improving, according to officials. David B. Cohen has been upgraded to good condition. This picture is at left from a Johns Hopkins Hospital website screen shot.

He was shot by Paul Warren Pardus, who apparently was upset that his mother might have to go into a hospice. Police said Pardus shot Cohen, then killed his mother and himself. Police, believing Pardus was holding his mother hostage, locked down part of the campus for hours.

Baltimore Sun reporter Yeganeh June Torbati reports today that the doctor's wife issued a statement:

"We are deeply appreciative of the outpouring of support and concern for us during this difficult time. We are especially grateful to everyone at Johns Hopkins who worked to make David's recovery possible. Now it is important that our time and energy be focused on David's recovery. David is in good condition and continuing to recover more and more every day. We are asking the media to please respect our privacy during this time of healing. Thanks for your understanding."
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:44 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, East Baltimore

Five shot in new round of city violence

Baltimore police are continuing to investigate two multiple shootings that occurred Monday night -- three men shot and wounded in Brooklyn and two others shot in East Baltimore.

One victim was listed in critical condition from the South Baltimore shootings; homicide detectives are investigating the shootings near Greenmount Cemetery but there's been no word on their conditions.

For more details, police reporter Justin Fenton has a fuller account.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:40 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore, South Baltimore

September 17, 2010

VIDEO: Bealefeld on response to Johns Hopkins Hospital shooting

Mobile users can see the video by clicking here.
Posted by Steve Sullivan at 2:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

Bealefeld offers more details on Hopkins standoff

Baltimore police have begun a post-mortem on Thursday’s standoff at Johns Hopkins Hospital to determine whether police or hospital employees missed any signals that might have prevented a man from shooting a doctor and then killing his mother and himself (photo at left by The Sun's police reporter, Justin Fenton).

“Was there a clue we could have picked up?” Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said at a news conference Friday afternoon. “It’s important that we go back and critique this for the safety of all Baltimoreans.”

One question Bealefeld said he would like answered is whether Paul Warren Pardus always carried his small .38 caliber Kel-Tec handgun, so small the chief said it could be “concealed in the palm of your hand”  — when he visited is ailing mother, 84-year-old Jean Davis, at the hospital.

Police said that Pardus, speaking with a doctor and believing he had failed to help his cancer-stricken mother, pulled out the gun, shot the doctor and then retreated into Room 873 at the Nelson Building where he shot her and then himself.

Continue reading "Bealefeld offers more details on Hopkins standoff" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:39 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, East Baltimore

Live chat with Justin Fenton at 12:30 p.m.

Join Justin Fenton at 12:30 p.m. for a live chat. Topics we'll cover include yesterday's shootings at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the hotly contested race for city state's attorney between Patricia C. Jessamy and Gregg Bernstein. Though the chat doesn't begin until 12:30 p.m., you can ask questions now by clicking on our chat interface below.

Posted by Carla Correa at 11:32 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore, State's Attorney Campaign

September 16, 2010

VIDEO: Johns Hopkins shooting press conference

Mobile users can click here to see the video.
Posted by Steve Sullivan at 6:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

VIDEO: Justin Fenton on the Johns Hopkins shooting

Mobile users can see the video by clicking here.
Posted by Steve Sullivan at 3:46 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore

Murder-suicide in Hopkins standoff

The man who shot a doctor and took his mother hostage in a Johns Hopkins building killed his mother and then fatally shot himself, a city police source told The Sun's police reporter Justin Fenton.

Police put out a Twitter alert just a moment ago saying the situation had ended and was a "possible murder suicide." No other details were given. They said the gunman was not shot by a police officer.

Details are still coming in. Early reports were that the man was angry over the treatment of his mother and that he threatened to jump out of an 8th floor window. Initial reports also had him holding his mother hostage.

An officer at the scene early in the confrontation was heard over the police radio saying that the man wanted to kill his mother. Here are full reports and on scene accounts from reporters who are at the scene. Live twitter feeds from reporter Justin Fenton are here.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

Hopkins shooting; police still at scene

Update from Hopkins: The Johns Hopkins Hospital is not currently locked down, but visitors are being asked to stay out of the Nelson Building. Employees who have hospital identification badges can be in the building, but are not to try to access Nelson 8. Patients on Nelson 8 are going to be evacuated to other locations throughout the hospital.
Pregnant women in active labor should be encouraged to go to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Baltimore police remain at Johns Hopkins Hospital after a gunman shot and critically wounded a doctor and is now contained to a room on the 8th floor of a building on the sprawling East Baltimore medical campus.

Police SWAT members and dozens of officers are inside and around the hospital and the CNN is reporting live from the scene. The television network has already put The Sun's Justin Fenton on air to describe events. Fenton's picture from the scene is at left; follow his Twitter updates here.

Police had blocked off many streets in the area, but they just sent out a Twitter alert noting that the situation "is isolated to one relatively small part of the hospital. Persons who have business are encouraged to come."

Details remain slim at this hour but police have confirmed that a doctor was shot but apparently did not suffer life-threatening injuries. A nurse told reporters that the gunman was upset at the treatment of his mother and threatened to jump out of a window. Police just Twittered that "motive unclear at present."

A police officer had reported early in the confrontation that the man was holding his mother hostage, but police have not confirmed that there is any hostage involved. The name of the doctor has not been released.

For more details, see The Baltimore Sun's full coverage of this unfolding event.

Here is one report:

Portions of the Nelson Building, which includes a thoracic center on Hopkins' sprawling East Baltimore campus, were placed on lockdown and other sections evacuated. Police have shut down numerous roads in the area of Broadway, East Monument and North Wolfe streets. South of Monument and Wolfe was sealed off with trucks, cars and tape. Many units are on the scene, including police, fire and SWAT teams. Snipers are set up outside the building, and Guglielmi said that police are enacting a "tactical operation."

At 11:15 a.m., Hopkins sent out emergency e-mail and text advisories to staff that said "shooter on Nelson 8." An employee at the Hopkins School of Public Health, which is across Wolfe Street from the complex containing the Nelson building, said that employees were told to stay in their offices.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:51 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

Reported shooting at Hopkins

Update: Justin Fenton reporting from the scene that police are confirming a doctor has been shot and is critical condition.

Update: We've obtained the alert text Hopkins sent out to employees:  "Shooter incident on Nelson 8 at JHH. Stay in your office or room and lock doors until an all clear is announced. Stay away from windows. Wait for further instruction."

Baltimore police are swarming John Hopkins Hospital where there are reports a person has been shot and that a man has taken a hostage on the 8th floor of one of the buildings, according to authorities and traffic over the police radio.

Hopkins sounded an emergency alert about 11:15 a.m. at Nelson 8, a Thoracic Center on its sprawling East Baltimore campus. Police have shut down numerous roads in the area of Broadway, East Monument and North Wolf Streets.

Baltimore police did not offer any immediate comment. One officer on the radio asked, “Do we have a description of this guy?”

Another officer said the Quick Response Team, or SWAT, is at the hospital. The officer said on the radio that a man is “inside the building with his mother and he wants to kill his mom.”

Baltimore police just confirmed that an adult male has been shot at the hospital. No other details have been released.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:44 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

September 7, 2010

Leader of "Rollin' 20s Bloods" gang pleads guilty

A leader of the Rollin' 20s Bloods gang, Kevin Chambers, "BK", 29, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin. In the press release, federal prosecutors highlighted the work of state prosecutors, who play a crucial role with wiretap investigations. Chambers' gang operated on Fayette Street in Patterson Park and other areas of Baltimore, selling large quantities of crack cocaine and heroin. Chambers faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison at sentencing in January.

"Today's guilty plea involving a violent gang member demonstrates the significant investigative expertise the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office provides to long-term law enforcement investigations," said State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy in a statement. "Narcotics prosecutors in the State's Attorney's Office pursued leads that led to the Rollin 20's Bloods, and our cross-designated prosecutor worked with federal prosecutors who helped to put them out of business."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:43 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

September 2, 2010

Two shot; more guns seized

Baltimore police are this morning investigating two shootings -- both non-fatal. A 19-year-old man was shot in the shoulder on McHenry Street in Carrollton Ridge and a 46-year-old man was shot in the buttucks, legs and arm on West North Avenue.

Both shootings occurred after midnight.

Also, city police announced several more gun seizures. Police searched a house on Woodbine Avenue in Northwest Baltimore and found a handgun and arrested one person. In West Baltimore, police stopped a car and found a 9mm handgun inside. One person was arrested.

And also in West Baltimore, police said they arrested one person with 118 gel caps of heroin and a .38 caliber revolver.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore, West Baltimore

August 31, 2010

Feds look to seize $10 million from Blackwell

Federal authorities are trying to seize $10 million from reputed drug kingpin Steven “J.R.” Blackwell, who was indicted along with two others on federal heroin distribution charges last month.

The brief court filing in U.S. District Court for the first time indicates the scope of Blackwell’s alleged drug empire and links him to two real estate companies that own property in East Baltimore and a home along the Elk River in Cecil County that was purchased for $740,000.

Authorities have labeled Blackwell, 26, a key player in a violent drug feud that began with the abduction of his two younger brothers and included a quadruple shooting outside an appliance store and a shootout at a backyard cookout that injured 12 people, including Blackwell.

Despite his stature, Blackwell hadn’t faced serious charges since he was 17 years old. He was picked up in New York last week after being indicted along with co-defendants Tahirah Carter, 34, and Joy Edison, 24, whose roles have not been spelled out.

Court papers and state business records show that Blackwell and Edison are linked to two real estate companies, JJM Realty LLC and J. Edison Properties, which own property in the Oliver, Berea and Johnston Square neighborhoods that were purchased between Aug. 29, 2008 and January 6, 2009.

State records show that JJM is registered in Blackwell’s name for the purpose of “buying, selling and renting properties,” while J. Edison properties dissolved last year after failing to file proper paperwork.

Continue reading "Feds look to seize $10 million from Blackwell" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:28 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore

August 27, 2010

Pastor pleads guilty in plot to kill disabled man

A 34-year-old Baltimore pastor who worked with the developmentally disabled pleaded guilty Friday to his role in a conspiracy to kill a blind man for life insurance money.

Kevin Pushia (at right) faces life in prison in the death of Lemuel Wallace, who was found in a Leakin Park bathroom shot multiple times in the head and back in February 2009. Prosecutor Robin Wherley said Pushia confessed to taking out multiple life insurance policies in Wallace’s name, then paying a hit man $50,000 to kill him.

That money had come from the treasury of a small East Baltimore church where Pushia was a pastor.

Pushia, who had worked as an operations manager for the Arc of Baltimore, confessed after police serving a search warrant found a notation in his planning calendar for Feb. 5, the day after Wallace was killed, that read, “L.W. project completed,” prosecutors said.

“Mr. Pushia made some poor decisions, and got himself in a very difficult position,” said defense attorney Russell Neverdon outside the courthouse. “His plea was an effort to purge himself, emotionally and spiritually.”

Sentencing was not disclosed at Friday’s hearing in Baltimore Circuit Court. A co-defendant, James Omar Clea, is scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 8.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:28 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore, West Baltimore

August 26, 2010

The mind of an alleged killer

Anyone wondering what's in the mind of an alleged teen-aged killer must read Justin Fenton's story today: "A troubled past, then a killing."

The mother of 14-year-old Arteesha Holt gives a candid assessment of her daughter, charged with opening fire on two men who police said laughed at her youthful appearance when she tried to hold them up. Police said she pulled the trigger once on a silver .32 caliber revolver; the bullet grazed on man's head and hit his companion in the center of his forehead, killing him.

Now another child is in jail on murder charges. Justin found the girl's mother who noted her daughter's troubled past. In a city that seems numb to murder, this one chills. Justin wrote:

Arteesha Holt wasn't like most girls her age. A tomboy who liked playing football and basketball, relatives say she also had an explosive temper and was prone to uncontrollable outbursts.

Once, she destroyed her family's home, slinging an ashtray across the room, tearing pictures from the wall and kicking out a heating vent, all because her infant nephew stepped on a bowl of strawberries. The girl's mother says she tried repeatedly to get her daughter help through the juvenile justice system, to no avail.

The girl's mother, Raichelle Johnson, 39, said she was horrified by the allegations. Speaking from the porch of her Southwest Baltimore home, she said she worried for her daughter and sought help, but never anticipated "in a million years" the situation she faces now.

"I don't condone my child taking a life — if she took this man's life, then she needs to be prosecuted," said Johnson. "But she's still a child. She needed help, and when we asked for help, they wouldn't give it."

Johnson said she ran a strict house, often creating tension between her and her rebellious daughter.

"In my house, there are rules," she said. "You have to clean up, can't cuss. A child has to be a child, like children should be."

Something was wrong with Holt, however, her mother said. Her rage often got bottled up, erupting with terrifying results. Though she was a good student, she began having trouble in the classroom. She was shifted from school to school and charged with disturbing the peace.

"Arteesha is … ," Johnson paused, searching for the right words. "Unstable."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:41 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore

August 25, 2010

Blackwell, reputed drug kingpin linked to retaliatory kilings, indicted by federal authorities

Steven Blackwell, the alleged East Baltimore drug kingpin, has been indicted by federal authorities. Court papers filed last year show that the abduction of Blackwell's younger brothers may have set off a wave of retaliatory shootings and killings, including a shooting at a cookout last summer that left 12 people injured. Police sources said at the time that Blackwell had been targeted but was uninjured. Last year, Mayor Sheila Dixon chided federal authorities for taking too long to build a case against Blackwell. Here's the press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office:

Defendants Allegedly Participated in Heroin Distribution Conspiracy Operating Since 2003

Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted Steven Blackwell, age 26, of Elkton, Maryland; Tahirah Carter, age 34, of Cockeysville, Maryland; and Joy Edison, age 24, of Elkton, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin.  The indictment was returned on August 11, 2010, and unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendants.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland  Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

“This investigation has been one of our highest priorities,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.  “Federal prosecutors and agents are working closely with Baltimore City police and prosecutors and focusing resources on suspects believed to be involved in the city’s most serious crimes.  Anyone who joins a criminal drug distribution network is liable to be prosecuted for conspiracy and held accountable for all foreseeable criminal conduct of other participants.”

Continue reading "Blackwell, reputed drug kingpin linked to retaliatory kilings, indicted by federal authorities" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:33 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

Teen-aged murder suspect not linked to gang, police say

Baltimore police said this morning that the 14-year-old girl charged with killing a man in a robbery earlier this month is not a member of a gang. Authorities had initially believed the killing was linked to a gang initiation.

But department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told reporters at a news conference that the motive in the killing of Jose Rodolfo Gonzalez-Coreas is robbery. Police describe a stunning sequence of events, saying the suspect opened fire when one of the victims laughed at her as she pointed the gun at him.

"They didn't take her seriously because of her age," Guglielmi said. Police arrested and charged Arteesha Holt (seen above) with first-degree murder and several other crimes. They also charged her 18-year-old brother, Shawn Palmer (in the photo above), with being an accomplice to murder for allegedly helping her escape from the neighborhood and by taking the silver .32 caliber revolver off her hands.

Guglielmi described the shooting as heinous. "It speaks to the guns that are out there and the frustrations we in law enforcement have at trying to deal with all this."

The victims in his case were Latinos, two of several who have been attacked in recent weeks in Southeast Baltimore. One of the latest attacks was committed, police say, by a mentally disturbed man who told detectives he hated Mexicans. Guglielmi said the killing involving the girl was during a robbery and not a hate crime.

August 19, 2010

Sex offender beats man; another man beats security guard

CORRECTION: I learned on Monday from state authorities that the suspect Myers (in the first case described below) had in fact been denied parole and had been released from prison after serving his time. The incorrect information about his parole status came from city prosecutors).

Two unusual cases before city courts on this week highlight the extremes some criminals will go.

In one, a registered sex offender beat a man in Fells Point who he mistakenly thought posted notices around the neighborhood about his record. It took one hour for District Judge Askew Gatewood to find Francis Myers, 46, guilty of second degree assault and sentence him to six months in jail.

Prosecutors said Myers repeteadly hit the victim in the head with a metal pipe. At the time, Myers was on parole for second degree rape and second degree sex offense, and had prior convictions for assault, arson, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and possession of a deadly weapon.

In another case, a good deed by a Johns Hopkins security guard to help a stranded motorist with a jump ends with the guard being beaten.

Prosecutors said the guard was helping the driver in July outside the Hopkins hospital emergency room. Egbert Spaulding, a taxi cab driver, stopped and offered to give the motorist a jump for $10. The guard told him it was being done for free, and authorities said Spaulding "became upset and attached the jumper cables to his car and pushed the jumper cables into the officer’s side while the car was still running."

The officer wasn't hurt. This week, District Judge Gregory Sampson convicted Spaulding, 56, of seond-degree assault and sentenced him to three years, with all but six months suspended, and to three years probation.

August 16, 2010

Another violent weekend

Another Monday, another death toll to tally on the streets of Baltimore: 13 shot, three dead.

Concerned about the violence, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III ordered his commanders to the streets and saturated neighborhoods with cops. The shootings, including two by his officers, continued.

Here's the opening of Annie Linskey's story in this morning's paper. It reads much like the opening to the story in Sunday's paper, and in stories in papers from the past several weeks:

Baltimore endured a bloody Sunday morning with three people shot and a fourth killed within two hours, police said. Later in the day a police officer shot a man in the leg, the second police-involved shooting of the weekend.

That meant 13 people were shot over the weekend — three fatally. Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III plans to meet with commanders Monday morning to assess their violence prevention strategy.

The commissioner had pumped up police presence in the city's Eastern District and other hot spots on Saturday, after a series of shootings left two men dead and five others wounded Friday night and early Saturday morning.

The extra shifts were called amid a budget crisis that has caused deep cuts to all city departments and forced the police to vastly decrease overtime. Police commanders, who are not paid for overtime, were also put on duty throughout the weekend.

Tonight at the Southeastern District police station, worried residents of Upper Fells Point, Butcher's Hill and Patterson Park are to meet with police to discuss a series of beatings in the area. In some instances, groups of teens and young adults have robbed and assaulted people near their homes. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m.

August 11, 2010

Man shot on Broadway; city cops make more gun arrests

Baltimore police reported another homicide early today -- a man shot in East Baltimore's Oliver neighborhood. Officers responding to a report of a shooting in the 1600 block of Broadway found the victim suffering from a bullet wound to the back. He died later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In the department's ongoing war on guns, police said they arrested 29-year-old Curtis Shackleford on a charge of illegally possessing a loaded handgun. He was arrested in the 6800 block of Old Harford Road. And police said officers serving a warrant in the 4900 block of Frederick Ave. seized a rifle and suspected drugs. Three men were arrested.


Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, East Baltimore

August 9, 2010

Prosecutors seek maximum, judge imposes minimum

A repeat offender with three prior handgun convictions and assault and drug distribution convictions - who was on parole when he was arrested for a felony drug crime - received the minimum mandatory sentence 10 years without parole from Circuit Court Judge David W. Young at a hearing Monday, city prosecutors announced.

In a press release, city prosecutors said that Assistant State's Attorney Staci Pipkin sought the maximum 20 years incarceration with the first 10 years without the possibility of parole for Leroy Johnson. Prosecutors said Johnson had been identified through the "War Room" program as a violent, repeat offender. 

Johnson was arrested by city police in November 2008 after he was observed in the 1700 block of  Darley Ave walking to a suspected drug stash near an SUV. Johnson was seen bending down, picking up a cup and removing suspected heroin. He walked back and handed an unknown male heroin in exchange for money. Officers recovered $1,150 from Johnson's pockets and three gel caps of heroin from the cup.

Prosecutors rarely highlight their frustration with judges through press releases, and the War Room has been under fire from critics for being ineffective. Today's release seems to indicate an effort from the state's attorney's office to highlight the hurdles they face in trying to secure meaningful jail time for repeat offenders.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:30 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

August 3, 2010

Milton Hill's daughter: "I'm coming forward"

One of the more powerful moments of last night's vigil in East Baltimore, which attracted more than 400 people, was when Milton Hill's daughter Tracey Hill (left) directly addressed her father's killers, which I inadvertently left out of last night's blog post on the rally:

"I know you out here. You watching me, and I'm watching you. You gonna be uncovered. That scooter, you gonna never, ever be able to ride it."

She then implored anyone with information to share it with police.

"If you know something, come forward with it. I know some stuff. I'm coming forward. I got it, and I want some help."

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who spoke next, said police had recovered the scooter just a few blocks away Monday afternoon, in the 1400 block of N. Bethel St. It is being processed for evidence, police said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:58 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore

August 2, 2010

Hundreds rally on North Avenue for slain church caretaker

More than 400 people swarmed the Ark Church on North Avenue Monday night, one of the largest community rallies in recent memory as residents and public officials mourned the loss of Milton Hill, a 70-year-old slain in an apparent robbery of his scooter.

Hill's senseless death, on the heels of the fatal stabbing of a Johns Hopkins researcher days earlier in a robbery in Charles Village, seemed to awaken - at least for a day - a city often known for its apathy to crime as its stubborn homicide rate. The murder remains unsolved.

The rally attracted community leaders and residents from across the city, and the crowd continued to swell as people along North Avenue streamed in to see what the commotion was about. The eastbound lanes of the street had to be shut down because the sidewalk could not contain the overflow crowd. [Here's Sun reporter Jonathan Pitts' account, which appeared in the print edition.]

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III generated the first big applause when he turned to the victim's daughter and said, "I'm sorry for your loss... But I didn't come here to pray. I came here to demand justice for your father ... and the hundreds of other young men whose cases are open because people won't talk."

He implored residents to come forward with information about criminals in their neighborhood ("The evil is here," Bealefeld said, "and we must strike it down in our community"), a message that became a theme among the speakers.

"Don't snitch - tell," City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young said. "If it was your relative, you'd want someone to tell. Only we can fix the community; the police can't do it." 

Added state Sen. Joan Carter Conway: "It's about saving your child's life."

The crowd got energized as state Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, in apparent allusions to witness intimidation and dropped cases, that the criminal justice system needed to do its part if residents were to feel comfortable cooperating. "Once we tell, once we snitch, something has to happen," he boomed. "Something's wrong with this criminal justice system," he said, calling for officials to "Get to the bottom of it." Both State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy and her chief challenger, Gregg Bernstein, were in attendance.

The Ark Church pastor Dr. J.L. Carter also turned the focus back on to public officials. He said the city's "gameplan" is "not working." He chastised City Hall and the elected leaders.

"When you cut rec centers, when you close pools, you create these kinds of situations," he said to cheers. "It might be a piece of legislation for you, but our lives are on the line."

He concluded: "We can place blame on City Hall - and we will do that - but we are not off the hook ourselves."

The event was supposed to conclude with a walk through the community, but most people lingered as Charlene Ames Bourne and a small group of volunteers walked through the Oliver neighborhood handing out packets of information listing various job placement, drug treatment and other services. "It's one thing to show up at a big event, but getting out here and connecting," she said, handing a packet to a young man, "is what is going to make the difference."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:15 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: East Baltimore

Rally in East Baltimore tonight

Two of the city councilmembers behind last week's Charles Village rally and "solidarity walk" will be holding a similar event tonight at the Ark Church where 70-year-old Milton Hill was killed last week in an apparent robbery, and this event is expected to include residents from across the city. Here's a press release sent out by Councilman Carl Stokes:

Frustrated residents from across Baltimore to converge on site where 70-year-old church volunteer was murdered!
Councilman Carl Stokes calls City of Baltimore to show solidarity in wake of ongoing murder and violence
WHO:            Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes, 12th District
                        Baltimore City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young
                        Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, 14th District
                        Dr. J. L. Carter and First Lady Cora Carter, Ark Church
Ark Church members
Neighborhood and Community Association leaders from across Baltimore
City Residents
WHAT:         Councilman Carl Stokes will be joined by the Pastor and First Lady of the Ark Church in East Baltimore, several of his colleagues in government and community residents and church members TONIGHT to remember and celebrate the life of Milton Hill, a 70-year-old church caretaker who was murdered Friday (July 30) morning.
Councilman Stokes will be joined by faith leaders and residents from across Baltimore at the East Baltimore site of Hill’s murder to show solidarity and to call the entire city to action against violence. Residents from Charles Village, West Baltimore and South East Baltimore have confirmed their intentions to be part of this vigil – murder and violence is touching almost every neighborhood in our city and there must be the collective action of government, police and citizens to begin to heal Baltimore.  
WHERE:      The Ark Church        
1263 East North Avenue
WHEN:         TONIGHT, August 2, 2010
                                    6:00 PM
Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

July 30, 2010

Church caretaker found slain in apparent robbery

Milton Hill, 70 and spry, shoveled the snow from the front walk of the church next to his small East Baltimore apartment. He helped carry heavy boxes to the food pantry, and walked women to their cars after late night events. He trimmed the church hedges on Thursday, just because it needed to be done.

On Friday morning, a relative found Hill slumped against a fence, lying in a pool of blood. He had been shot. The scooter he used to get around town – a retirement present he bought himself, according to the church deacon – was gone.

Friends, family and church members stood across the street, consoling one another and praying as city fire fighters washed the blood down the drain. The red-stained water washed along the sidewalk he helped clear of debris, and down the alley he traversed to get to the ramshackle porch leading to his second-floor apartment in the 1200 block of E. North Ave. above the Ark Church bookstore.

“People are really gonna miss him,” 82-year-old Reginald Trusty said. “I can’t say it enough how much he’ll be missed.”

Continue reading "Church caretaker found slain in apparent robbery" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:53 PM | | Comments (38)
Categories: East Baltimore

July 23, 2010

Drug suspect in "haze" and acting "groovy," court says

The Maryland Court of Appeals today upheld the conviction of a Baltimore man on a marijuana charge. Cops had burst into the house on a warrant and confronted four people sitting around a table, with a marijuana joint burning in the ash tray.

One of the men arrested, charged, convicted and sent to jail for 60 days appealed, arguing the police couldn't prove the marijuana belonged to him. The judges, with two dissents, thought otherwise and upheld the conviction on the grounds that his proximity to the drugs made it reasonable to infer that he "enjoyed them." (read the ruling).

Here's the opening of the opinion, one of the best I've seen recently:

"Reminiscent of a scene from a Cheech & Chong movie, Baltimore City police officers, on 6 December 2006, executed a search warrant on a dwelling at 1932 Lanvale Street where the occupants on one floor were found shrouded in a haze of marijuana smoke.

Despite the appearance of the police, Clavon Smith (“Petitioner”), one of those present,
behaved as though everything remained “groovy.” Smith was seated in a chair at a table
within arm’s reach of a smoldering marijuana blunt and next to another chair over which was
draped a jacket with fifteen baggies of marijuana in one of its pockets.

Although convicted of possession of marijuana in violation of Maryland Code (2002 & Supp. 2009), § 5-601(a)(1) of the Criminal Law Article, Petitioner claims that the State did not prove beyond
a reasonable doubt that he possessed any of the marijuana. We shall hold that the evidence
was sufficient as to the marijuana blunt to support his conviction for a single count of simple
possession of marijuana."

Now checkout the footnotes:

Continue reading "Drug suspect in "haze" and acting "groovy," court says" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Courts and the justice system, East Baltimore

City police seek help in Highlandtown sexual assault investigation

City police are asking the public for help in identifying a man who tied up a music store clerk with an electrical cord and sexually assaulted her before fleeing with cash. Police said the incident occurred Thursday at about 9:15 a.m. in the 3600 block of Eastern Ave. in Highlandtown. The clerk, an adult female, was the only person in the store and was taken to a back room.

Police believe the suspect lives in the neighborhood and released stills from surveillance cameras in the store. Anyone with information was asked to call the sex offense unit at 410-396-2076.


Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:50 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore

July 18, 2010

Few shootings in city this weekend, handgun seized

Baltimore police reported few shootings this weekend, all but one apparently minor. Most occurred Saturday night into Sunday morning.

This updated information from reporter Gus Sentementes gives more details than the original Twitter feeds:

Continue reading "Few shootings in city this weekend, handgun seized" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:21 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

July 14, 2010

Police group walks through East Baltimore

I spent the morning walking in the rain with a few hundred police officers who have been visiting Baltimore for the annual National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

As they traditionally do at the end of every meeting, they walk though a neighborhood that most needs police. They ended with a memorial service at Israel Baptist Church to honor fallen police officers. The next Crime Scenes column will have more on the march and the meeting. Here are some pictures to enjoy from walk along East Biddle Street from the Baltimore Sun's Jed Kirschbaum.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:44 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: East Baltimore, Neighborhoods, Top brass

City police looking for owners of stolen goods

Baltimore police are seeking the public's help to identify the owners of stolen property recovered in a raid.

The department is planning a news conference this afternoon to show off the items (shown at left by Lt. Michael Newman), which were recovered over the weekend during druing the search of house in the 1800 block of E. Register St.

The suspect, charged with burglary, is Devon Anderson, 29 (at left).

Items recovered are:

Xbox 360 (# 050684580507)
- Dell laptop ( # CN0G5152-4-8643-440-0838)
- Compaq laptop (# CND4380N2G)
- Gateway laptop (# T225701008324)
- PSP Go (# AG211057398)
- PSP (# SU0838277)
- HP Deskjet printer (# CN91A5H180)
- Gameboy (pink in color)
- Brother printer (# U61944J7J114214)
- PS2 (# HU4090802)
- Bose 321 media center with sub-woofer and speakers w/ remote (#
- Corg keyboard (# 501283)
- 4 framed flower pictures
- 1 plastic bag containing DVDs
- Approximately 200 pieces assorted jewelry
- Nintendo Wii box (# LU113260315)
- 1 blank pistol

Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:54 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, East Baltimore

July 12, 2010

The Pull of the Streets

The Sun's Childs Walker this weekend profiled 17-year-old homicide victim John Crowder, a talented basketball player who had a support system of family and coaches trying to keep him from returning to the streets of East Baltimore:

Continue reading "The Pull of the Streets" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

Few shot in city over weekend

After several weekends in which eight or more people were shot, this weekend proved relatively quiet for Baltimore. Just a handful of shootings were reported, one of the most serious a double shooting early Sunday in the Seton Hill neighborhood.

On Sunday, an adult male was shot in the leg in the 3500 block of East Northern Parkway. Today, police reported that an adult male walked into Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the arm and another man walked into the emergency room at Johns Hopkins Hospital also suffering a gunshot to the arm. Police the victims may have been wounded in the same incident inthe 700 block of N. Lakewood Ave.

The only fatal shooting occurred Saturday about 4 a.m. when a 35-year-old woman was found fatally shot inside a car in the 100 block of East 22nd St. in lower Charles Village.

Police also reported seizing illegal guns. Timothy Robinson, 29, was charged with gun offenses after police said they arrested him with a rifle in the 1700 block of Presbury St. And police said they arrested Shaquan Robinson, 18, with an illegal handgun in the 800 block of Bethune St.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore, Northeast Baltimore, West Baltimore

July 7, 2010

East Baltimore stick-up boy linked to killing

A man who authorities say bragged to an informant about a recent East Baltimore killing has been indicted on federal robbery, drug distribution and firearms charges, which could ultimately end up netting him more prison time than the murder charge in state court. The city homicide unit's beleaguered clearance rate takes a hit, but it's all the same to investigators if the suspect is off the street and another example of how some cases get closed without a murder arrest. Here's how The Sun's Peter Hermann leads off the piece:

He went by the name "Preacherman," according to federal law enforcement authorities, and he made his living on the streets of East Baltimore robbing drug dealers and selling the stolen merchandise himself.

It's a perilous way to spend one's day. Someone once dared rob "Preacherman," and, according to a federal indictment unsealed last week, he bragged to a police informant that he shot and killed the robbery suspect, Donte Vandiver, on Belnord Avenue on May 24.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says in court documents filed last week that "Preacherman" is 27-year-old Tyrell Smith. Agents arrested him June 22 after a stakeout and a midafternoon car chase through several city neighborhoods east of Patterson Park that ended in Highlandtown.

It was one of those theatrical-looking police operations that get a neighborhood talking but rarely make the news, despite a flood of cops and a helicopter that pursued the speeding car even as an occupant threw a loaded handgun onto Pratt Street, spilling seven 9 mm bullets onto the sidewalk.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:36 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: East Baltimore

June 30, 2010

More city gun arrests; former soccer star among shooting victims

THIS JUST IN: We just learned that the shooting (referenced below) Tuesday night on Carswell Street in Northeast Baltimore was fatal. More details can be found in the news story

Baltimore police have continued their efforts to seize illegal guns from city streets.

On Tuesday, police got two loaded handguns and arrested two people in the 800 block of E. North Avel. Later that same day, police arrested a man in the 3500 block of Horton Ave. with a loaded handgun. That night, cops busted made a drug arrest in the 1300 block of E. Lafayette Ave. and seized four handguns.

Wednesday, police arrested three people and siezed a sawed-off shotgun during a raid at a house in the 3200 block of Ravenwood Ave. But also on Wednesday, police reported three victims in two shootings.

A man was shot in the 1500 block of Carswell St. and about 6:30 this morning two men walked intoan undisclosed hospital suffering from gunshot wounds. Police said the shooting had occurred at West Baltimore and Carrollton Avenue.

A victim of a double shooting Monday night in East Baltimore had been a star soccer player for Archbishop Curley High School and later for Patterson High.

A city police spokesman confirmed that one of the victim’s is Bash Kamara, who came to the United States from Sierra Leone, and had played for the high schools. Another man, who police did not identify, was shot in the abdomen in the same incident.

Police had few details of the double shooting that occurred about 9:15 p.m. Authorities say they believe the men were shot in the 1700 block of N. Montford Ave. and ran a few blocks to East North Avenue and Belair Road, where they were found by police.

Both victims suffered non-life threatening injuries and were being treated at an undisclosed hospital. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives have made no arrests and knew of no motive in the attack. 

In 2009, Kamara was named a player to watch for Patterson. The previous year, the forward was named all-city for the school. In 2007, he was named all-city for Archbishop Curley.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:32 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, East Baltimore, Top brass

June 28, 2010

New details on weekend shootings

The shooting at the Inner Harbor overshadowed yet another weekend filled with shootings. The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz gives readers a good summary of some of the shooting since early Saturday:

-- A 23-year-old woman who was four months pregnant and whom police described as a gang member was shot early Saturday morning on Arsan Avenue in Curtis Bay. She lost the baby but is expected to recover from her injuries, police said.

-- About 10 p.m. Saturday, in apparent retaliation for that shooting, an 18-year-old man was shot in the 300 block of nearby Annabel Avenue, police said.

-- A 23-year-old man was shot and killed at 3:30 a.m. Saturday in the 3300 block Noble Avenue in East Baltimore, police said.

-- A triple shooting at 9:40 a.m. Saturday in the 2200 block of Guilford Ave. near city school headquarters left one woman and two men injured, police said. One victim is related to a gang member who was killed earlier this year, leading police to believe the triple shooting was retaliatory.

-- Police discovered the body of a 47-year-old woman in the 5200 block of Charles St. about noon Saturday. Police said it is a possible asphyxiation and appears to be a domestic-violence homicide. Her husband was being sought by police.

-- An argument over an MP3 player, police said, led to a shooting at 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the 2100 block of Patapsco Ave. in South Baltimore. A 30-year-old man was shot twice in the stomach and is expected to survive, police said, adding that they have suspects and were preparing arrest warrants in the case.

-- About midnight Saturday, a 19-year-old was shot in the hand at the Inner Harbor.

-- Early Sunday morning, one man was shot to death in what police said appeared to be a home-invasion robbery of a drug house in the 2600 block of W. Fayette St.

-- Police also were investigating a suspicious the death of a 43-year-old man in the 2800 block of Rockrose Ave. north of Druid Hill Park. His body was found Sunday with an injury to the back of his head.

June 25, 2010

Arrest in weekend quadruple shooting

Police said they have made an arrest in a weekend shooting that left four men injured in East Baltimore.

The suspect, Michael Montgomery, was picked up this morning by members of the Warrant Apprehension Task Force outside his home in the 1200 block of N. Broadway, said Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman. Montgomery was in possession of a 9 mm handgun, the same type of weapon used in the shooting.

The shooting occurred in the 1300 block of N. Montford Ave. and came amid 12 shootings last weekend that left four dead. A 17-year-old was shot in the ankle; another 17-year-old was struck in the ankle, foot and right arm. A 53-year-old man was shot in the shoulder, and a 21-year-old walked into Johns Hopkins Hospital with a gunshot wound to the right ankle.

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said at a news conference Monday that a canvass of the crime scene turned up a pair of green dice, indicating that a dispute over gambling might have been the motive.

Guglielmi said Friday that there was also a basketball game going on at the time of the shooting. “The motive is petty – petty arguments and disputes over leisurely activity that resulted in four people being shot,” he said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:26 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

June 24, 2010

Cops bust gunmen, investigate shootings

Baltimore police since Wednesday have seized even more handguns on city streets. Meanwhile, authorities announced four more shooting this morning -- a double on East Jefferson Street in which a man was shot in the leg and a woman was hit in the shoulder, and another double shooting at McMechen Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Late word is that one of the victims from McMechen, a 34-year-old man, died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Overnight, a man walked into Good Samaritan Hospital suffering from a gunshot wound to the lower back.

But also on Wednesday, police said they arrested Jonathan Oliver, 21, in the 4200 block of Rogers Ave. in Northwest Baltimore and charged him with illegally possessing a loaded handgun. Later, police said they raided a house int he 2500 block of Arunah Ave. and seized a handgun, a shotgun and drugs.

Wednesday night, police said they arrested David Reid, 21, and charged him with possessing a handgun at Pennsylvania and Lafayette avenues. Hours later, police arrested two suspects during a traffic stop on Harford Road and seized a loaded handgun.

June 21, 2010

Bealefeld: Keep crime in perspective

Responding to a violent weekend that left three dead and eight injured — one critically — Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III urged residents to keep the city's overall crime declines in mind and not to "dwell on the negative."

A sociologist who once worked as an officer in the Eastern District said Bealefeld is right to underscore the overall crime figures, though community leaders warned that satisfaction with the numbers could breed complacency.

Nine people were shot over a period of 24 hours Saturday, and the violence continued with a man killed Father's Day morning and another fatally shot in the back early Monday. Late Monday, another man was shot in the head just a block away from one of Saturday's fatal shootings. But Bealefeld said homicides remained down 14 percent from last year while nonfatal shootings, which plummeted in 2009, were also off last year's pace, albeit slightly.

Nearly halfway through the year, Bealefeld said, police have taken 1,000 illegal guns off the streets and gun crime is down by double digits. That comes amid budget-tightening and deep concern over officers' pensions.

"Based on all the curveballs thrown at this police department in the last year, I think these men and women are doing a damn good job to be down in homicides and nonfatal shootings," Bealefeld said at a news conference Monday. "People have to balance facts against perception."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:13 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: East Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore, Top brass, West Baltimore

12 shot in Baltimore over weekend

man was fatally shot in East Baltimore early this morning, adding to a list of gunshot victims that turned city streets into a battle ground this weekend. That and another shooting early today brings the weekend total to 12 shot, three fatally.

The Baltimore Sun's Meredith Cohn wrote:

On one of Baltimore's most violent weekends so far this year, 10 people were shot in incidents across the city, with two confirmed dead. The police have no suspects in any of the shootings, which spanned early Saturday through Sunday morning, and can't say whether any are connected. But spokesman Detective Jeremy Silbert said the department is following leads and speaking to witnesses. "In these areas where the shootings occurred, we'll be increasing patrols," Silbert said.


June 9, 2010

Officer was legally drunk in 05 off-duty shooting

It's difficult for anyone to second guess the actions of an officer made in the heat of the moment of a potentially life-threatening situation. Officer Gahiji Tshamba, under scrutiny and likely facing serious charges for killing an unarmed man over the weekend, faced what sounds like a harrowing situation in September 2005: The way he tells it, an SUV full of men pulled up next to him, with its occupants hurling racial epithets, spitting on his car, and throwing a beer bottle. As he followed them, they turned around, and slammed into his vehicle before getting out and coming towards him in a menacing manner. He fired five shots, striking one of them. The men offered a different take, though they admitted driving at him. And the victim was so intoxicated he claimed to have no memory of the events at all.

Was Tshamba's decision to shoot justified? The state's attorney's office felt that it was, and cleared him of criminal wrongdoing. 

But what seems less debatable and may cast some doubt on his account is the fact that, according to investigative records, Tshamba was driving drunk at the time of the incident.

When an Eastern District lieutenant arrived on the scene, he suspected Tshamba was impaired and ordered him to submit to a Breathalyzer - something Tshamba refused on Saturday - and he registered a .12 blood alcohol level. That's above the legal limit of .08.

Though Tshamba was cleared in the shooting, the department disciplined him for being intoxicated.  A year later, Tshamba wrecked his car after losing control and crashing into a gas station. Alcohol was not listed as a factor, but the car was not insured and was unregistered. All in all, those are just more questionable decisions in the recent history of an officer who is being closely scrutinized.

Prosecutors continue to mull charges in Saturday's shooting.  In this article, Peter Hermann gives a rundown of the perplexing police shooting cases that have come across the desk of State's Attorney Patricia A. Jessamy, and how her office has handled them over the years. Those cases deal with on-duty shootings, though it is still instructive to see the factors weighed by prosecutors and why the process can take some time.

"I will not send a message to police officers that I will impose my judgment in place of theirs when they act within the scope of their training and the law," she said at the time. "I will not, because of personal or political consideration, create a climate where police officers hesitate to protect a citizen or themselves."

And speaking of police charged criminally for shooting citizens on-duty, the trial for Officer Thomas Sanders, the first officer charged since the 1990s, began Monday with opening arguments. Sanders' defense attorney said that he was only following his training when he shot Edward Hunt after Hunt ran away during a 2008 arrest. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:26 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: East Baltimore, Gahiji Tshamba, Police shootings, Top brass

June 7, 2010

Grieving over lost son, lost justice

Sunday's Crime Beat column focused on the mother of Tyree Wright, whose was shot and killed a dozen years ago, and whose alleged killer went free last month. Earline Coffee watched on TV as the man convicted in shooting walked free outside the city courthouse.

"I've been crying ever since," she told me. At left are pictures of Tyree, in a photo taken by The Sun's Jed Kirschbaum.

The case against Tyrone Jones crumbled when lawyers discovered that a police report in which a key witness had at first told detectives she didn't the shooting, only to change her mind later and identify Jones as the suspect, had never been turned over to the defense. Lawyers lost the chance to impeach her credibility.

A judge granted Jones a new trial and prosecutors decided to drop the case. They didn't properly notify Coffey of their decision, and so she turned on her TV one afternoon and saw Jones smiling as he walked free.

It appears that Tyree, 15, was shot by a bullet mean for someone else. He was a good student, a track star, stayed off the streets, hadn't gotten into trouble and wanted to move to California to be a police officer. Over the weekend, his gudiance counselor wrote me a note:



I was Tyree Wright's guidance counselor at Patterson High School. Reading your article brought back a flood of memories and emotions for me. I remember the morning that I learned of Tyree's murder; I fell to the floor unable to control my tears of grief and disbelief. I remember attending his funeral with many of his classmates and teachers, all of us overcome with sorrow, unable to grasp the fact that the life of this wonderful young man had been taken. I want to reiterate what Tyree's mother said. Tyree was absolutely not a child of the streets. He was delightful, respectful, kind, loving, ambitious and full of life. There was an innocent aura about him. I never once doubted that his future held only good things. I want everyone to know that his death was a true tragedy, and that Tyree did nothing to bring it on. My heart goes out to his mother who did a beauiful job of raising this very special young man. In my desk at Patterson I still keep a pin that I created with my students that we wore in memory of Tyree. Tyree will never be forgotten. If you speak to his mother again, please let her know how much her son was loved and that she and Tyree are both in our prayers. 

Kathleen Gabriel

June 6, 2010

A mother's anguish

There's nothing easy about losing a son.

And there's nothing easy about watching TV and seeing your son's killer go free.

That's what happened to Earline Coffey (at left, in a photo by The Sun's Jed Kirschbaum) in late May. She knew the man conficted of killing 15-year-old Tyree Wright had been granted a new trial because a police report calling a witnesses account into question had never been disclosed to the defense. But no one told her that prosecutors were dropping he case entirely.

So she turned on her television on May 25 and saw the suspect smiling as he walked out of a downtown courtroom. All she could think about was how Tyree died in her arms, smiling up at her blood poured from his head and onto the steps of her Federal Street rowhouse.

"I don't think it's fair for him to be out and my son is six feet under," Coffey told me this week.

Coffey called the newspaper (we have a full account running Sunday in the Crime Beat column in print and on the Internet) after an account ran of the charges being dropped against Tyrone Jones, who is now 33, and had spent nearly 12 years in prison for the June 1998 killing. Police said Tyree was hit by a bullet as he sat on his steps; his mother said the shooter was aiming at somebody else.A

A reporter had tried to reach Coffey but couldn't, and she called us after the story appeared. She was angry about the way she found out about the case ending and confused as to why.

Jones (at right, in a photo by The Sun's Kim Hairston) won the right for a new trial with the help of Maryland's Innocence Project, which helps overturn wrongful convictions, and prosecutors determined they couldn't retry the case with the scant evidence left over. The witness account was not useless and gunshot residue found on the suspect's hands has been called unreliable by many experts. But prosecutors apologized to Coffey for failing to fully explain that the man convicted in her son's killing was being released.

All Coffee can remember is smiles. She cringes at the thought of Jones smiling on TV as he walked out the courthouse a free man. And she cries as she remembers the smile her son gave her on his deathbed.

She told me she's never fully gotten over Tyree's death. He was a stellar track player at Patterson Park High School, studied hard and wanted to go to college and moved to California to become a police officer. The suspect to had been arrested once on a drug charge that wasn't prosecuted, but had been attending a community college in Texas and was home on break when the shooting occurred.

It's a happy moment for Jones, a sad moment for Coffey, compounded by the oversight that kept her in the dark and forced her to discover justice undone by seeing a smile on her television screen.

June 4, 2010

Murder arrest in one of weekend shootings

A man arrested on Monday who police said was carrying a loaded revolver has now been charged in one of the Memorial Day weekend killings that left 10 dead over four days.

Shawn Demetrice Jones, 18, is charged in the shooting death of Davon Dorsey, also 18, who was killed in the 400 block of N. Rose St. on Saturday (part of a street-corner memorial in pictures at top). That shooting occurred 45 minutes after another fatal shooting a few blocks away on East Monument Street, and police later said they believed the two were related and tied to gangs.

The victims, Rose Street's Dorsey and Monument Street's Timothy Gaskins, 22, were believed to be members of the Lueders Park Piru, a Bloods set whose name draws on its Los Angeles roots, law enforcement sources told the Baltimore Sun's Justin Fenton. Police believe the suspected shooter is affiliated with the Crips gang, sources said.

Jones was arrested on Monday in the 400 block of N. Lakewood Ave., a few blocks from both shooting scenes. Police have said it's possible the same shooter is responsible for both slayings, but so far Jones has been charged in only one of the cases.

The shootings occurred in McElderry Park, where Operation Safe Streets works. This is an organization of former gang members who work to mediate disputes before they erupt in violence. On Tuesday, Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said he was most concerned about the killings here because his officers have focused efforts on these streets.

"The Monument Street cases certainly have us evaluating what we could have done better," Bealefeld said. "When you have two street disturbances, two street fights that lead to two deaths within an hour of each other and with one common suspect, there's some breakdowns there."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:27 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, East Baltimore

June 2, 2010

One more (two more) shootings -- and gun busts

Coming off a horrific weekend -- and day after --the city appears to be quieting down. Baltimore Police report just one shooting overnight, a man who walked into the Johns Hopkins Hospital emergency room with a gunshot wound. At last report, police were searching for the crime scene.

UPDATE: City police report that shortly after 8 this morning, another man was shot -- an adult male wounded in the leg in the 1900 block of Park Ave. Detectives are investigating at this hour.

That's progress considering 10 people have been killed -- nine shot, one stabbed -- since Saturday, one of the deadliest stretches of violence since 2007. The Sun's crime reporter, Justin Fenton, takes you through the killings (reporting that at least two shootings in East Baltimore are believed linked to a Bloods-Crips gang feud) and I toured nine of the crime scenes on Tuesday. At left, is a photo of a tribute to two men killed at a cookout on Pulaski Street. Police said the shooting started with an argument over someone pulling woman's hair.

This morning, city police announced arresting a man on a search warrant and finding two illegal handguns, 1.5 pounds of suspected marijuana and $1,000. They arrested Anthony Walker, 38, on drug and weapons charges. No further details have been divulged.

And on Monday, police reported seizing a loaded revolver and arrested Shawn Demetrice Jones, 18, in the 400 block of N. Lakewood Ave., and finding two loaded handguns and suspected drugs during a car stop in the 2500 block of W. Baltimore St. One person was arrested.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore, Gangs, West Baltimore

June 1, 2010

Bealefeld: Weekend violence stemmed from "petty neighborhood disputes"

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said the weekend violence that saw eight people killed and another five wounded in shootings was generally the result of "minor, petty neighborhood disputes that got out of control."

"Some of these things are beyond the control and the scope of [police] deployments," he said. "...They're not easily solved by saying, 'We're going to put a zillion cops on the street.' We have to be smart about our deployments and focus where we can get the maximum returns."

Providing new details about some of the crimes, Bealefeld said a double-homicide in the Southwest District on Sunday stemmed from an argument at a street corner cookout that "devolved into a fight between a 30 year old man and a woman who was at the party and went home and alerted relatives that had access to cheap, semi-automatic weapons and went back to settle the score themselves."

"Two men ended up losing their lives over a stupid argument - some hair-pulling and a minor assault led to two people being dead," Bealefeld said.

Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake said "we have to have the ability to get together, to enjoy ourselves over the holiday without it turning into fights ... arguments that turn into shootings."

"We have to want more for ourselves in our community than this type of lawlessness. It's going to take the community working with our police to make that happen."

Bealefeld said he was more concerned by Sunday's two killings along the Monument Street corridor, where police have focused more resources in the past year. Two men were shot and killed within blocks and over the span of about 45 minutes. Bealefeld indicated one suspect was responsible for both shootings.

"The Monument Street cases certainly have us evaluating what we could have done better," he said. "When you have two street disturbances, two street fights that lead to two deaths in an hour of each other and with one common suspect, there's some breakdowns there."

Continue reading "Bealefeld: Weekend violence stemmed from "petty neighborhood disputes"" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:55 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: City Hall, East Baltimore, Neighborhoods, Top brass

Memorial Day killing spree

I just spent more than three hours driving to each of city's nine slayings that occurred between early Saturday morning and early Tuesday -- a spate of killings that is unusual even for a city seemingly swamped in violence.

One killing was a domestic and another involved a man fatally stabbed when he came to help another man in a dispute with a woman. Both of those occurred inside homes. But others were outside, most linked to the city's underworld of crime. Many if not most of the victims had criminal records, and judging by some of the street-corner memorials, some seemed involved in the drug trade.

The trip took 35.6 miles and more than three hours (including time spent stopping for interviews). A full story will be in Crime Scenes later today on line and in tomorrow's print edition. I started with a shooting on North Fulton Ave. (12:43 a.m. today) and ended at Pennington Ave. in Curtis Bay (1 a.m. Saturday).

In one spot, on North Rose Street, a mother put up a sign pleading for help paying for the funeral. At another, a double shooting on Pulaski Street, balloons fluttered in a warm breeze and empty bottles of vodka shared space with votive candles and teddy bears.

Baltimore police have made an arrest in at least one of the domestics -- the stabbing in which the man intervened in the dispute -- and noted the difficulties of policing a city under seige. The double slaying on Pulaski Street, for example, began at an argument during a cookout in which one person got angry over another person's hair being pulled.

At another spot on Loch Raven Boulevard, on quiet residential street of nicely mowed green lawns, just up from Good Samaritan Hospital, there was gang graffiti imbedded in sidewalk concrete. Even in spots where violence doesn't happen, the danger signs are there. Picture is at left.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:15 PM | | Comments (2)

May 31, 2010

City cops probe several shootings; 10 shot, 7 dead over holiday weekend

Update: Police tell me that the two shooting victims from Ramsay Street died. That brings the holiday weekend total to 10 shootings with seven dead. That includes the latest fatal shooting this morning on Loch Raven Boulevard in Northeast Baltimore.

Update 2: Police are reporting that a man was stabbed to death at about 6:15 p.m. Monday in the 4800 block of Truesdale Ave, in the Northeast District's Frankford neighborhood. The three-day death toll is now at eight, the deadliest such stretch of the year. 

Baltimore police are investigating a spate of shooting over this violent holiday weekend, including three that occurred in a brieft span in East Baltimore adnd three others within a few hours and a few blocks in Carrollton Ridge.

Sunday evening, a man was shot and killed on Ramsay Street. A few hours later, two other men were shot (their conditions are not yet known, but homicide detectives were called to the scene). This is the same beleagured neighbhood in which 5-year-old Raven Wyatt was found shot and wounded last year, and the scene of a large community walk with the mayor and police to take back their streets.

The Baltimore Sun's Tricia Bishop just updated that sad tale with news that lawyers for the recently convicted shooter are appealing because they believe prosecutors and a former defense attorney overstated the number of times the suspect had violated his home detention (he was GPS monitoring).

Last year, I walked through the neighborhood twice (once when the mayor came, along with hundreds of angry and concerned residents) and a second time a few weeks later (when hardly anyone showed up).

The Southwestern District's Police Community Relations Council, led by Steve Herlth, is very active with community Citizen on Patrol Walks. And Connie Fowler, the longtime community leader there, has been vocal about violence for years.

May 24, 2010

Shootings, gun arrests in city

UPDATE: The shooting on Belnord Avenue described below was a homicide, according to police.

Baltimore police are investigating several shootings over the weekend, the latest reported about 6 a.m. when a man with a gunshot wound to the leg walked into the Johns Hopkins Hospital emergency room. Police said he had been shot in the 1600 block of Ashland Ave.

About 1 a.m., police said an adult male was shot in the 3100 block of Presbury St. in West Baltimore, and a half hour earlier an adult male was shot multiple times in the 900 block of N. Belnord Ave. in East Baltimore. Shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday, a man wa shot in the side and in the leg in the 2900 block of Denham Circle.

Police repoted no arrests or motives in the cases. Conditions of the victims was not immediately made available.

In addition, police arrested several people on gun charges. On Sunday, authorities announced the arrest of Deaven Raeshawn Cherry, 23, who was charged with possession of an illegal handgun after being arrested in the 600 block of Pitcher St. Police said the suspect has an extensive criminal history. Police also said they arrested Clayton Ghomas, 22, in the 5800 block of Glankirk Road after they said he fired a .38 caliber handgun.

And on Sunday, police said they arrested Christopher Jackson, 23, a convicted felon, who they said officers caught with a .32 caliber handgun that had been reported stolen in Pennsylvania.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, East Baltimore

May 20, 2010

He killed him, then ate his food

One of the property managers at Oldtown Mall summed up the death of Tian Zin Wang: "His is a typical story of an immigrant who came here to start a business and did quite well."

That was last year, and the 51-year-old owner of China Garden and Soul Food Carryout made one last run to Webb Court (to what he discovered was a vacant rowhouse) to fulfill an order -- orange chicken, curry chicken and beef fried rice. There, he was held up at gunpoint and robbed.

Walter Taylor, 29, shot Wang five times and ran off with the food -- which he shared with his girlfriend that very night. Taylor pleaded guilty on Wednesday to robbery and murder and was sentenced to life with all but 40 years suspended.

Wang's shop is gone and his family has lost their home and moved out of state. The Baltimore Sun's Tricia Bishop reports that Wang's sister spoke about the family in court, and about her brother, dying in the street, called his wife.

Said the shooter Taylor: "I'm sorry."

May 12, 2010

Shooting in Park Heights; gun, drug arrest

Breaking News Update: Police told me just a few minutes ago that the victim has died. 

A man was shot in the head this morning in Northwest Baltimore Park Heights neighborhood. City police had few details, but said the shooting occurred about 3:25 a.m. at West Cold Spring Lane and Daytona Avenue, between Reisterstown Road and Wabash Avenue.

The victim was rushed to Sinai Hospital. His condition was not immediately available, but police said on Twitter that homicide detectives had been called to the scene.

Also this morning, police said they raided a house in East Baltimore's Townway Court and arrested Anthony Martin, 22. Authorities said they seized $3,810, 88 vials of suspected cocaine and a .40 caliber handgun.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore

May 10, 2010

Four dead in weekend violence; man carjacked in AA County and left in city

The weekend saw at least seven shootings in Baltimore, three of them fatal, and news of an arrest in the strangling of a pregnant woman in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood.

Police said a white man was shot in the neck and died on the scene in the 500 block of N. Collington Ave. in East Baltimore at about 6 p.m. Saturday. Four hours later, two black men were found dead in a vehicle that had its engine running in the 900 block of North Hill Drive., in the Ednor-Gardens-Lakeside community of Northeast Baltimore. None of those victims had been identified as of this morning and police were not able to provide any new information about the crimes.

An insignificant but odd fact: there was not a single white homicide victim in the city until May 5, a span in which 58 people were killed. The next four city victims were all white: a homeless man found beaten to death in West Baltimore, a man beaten to death outside a Brooklyn bar, a 29-year-old pregnant woman strangled by her boyfriend, and Saturday's victim. The city's total now stands at 64 homicides for the year, compared with 80 at this time last year. That's a drop of 20 percent, but the pace is slowly evening out.

In other news, Anne Arundel County police reported this morning that a 28-year-old man was forced into the trunk of his own vehicle on Saturday in the 800 block of Nursery Road in Linthicum, and driven into Baltimore. The suspect took his wallet and cell phone and drove off in the vehicle, a 1998 gold Chevrolet Cavalier. It was not immediately clear where in the city the man was taken in Baltimore, but police believe the victim and suspect had met as part of a planned meeting and that the motive may have been drug-related.

Continue reading "Four dead in weekend violence; man carjacked in AA County and left in city" »

May 8, 2010

911 calls from city officer injured in Harford attack

Today we posted audio - an edited and an unedited version - of a 911 call made by an off-duty Baltimore officer who is fighting to hold on to his sight in his left eye after taking a beer mug to the face as he returned home.  We sought the audio for one main reason: the family of the accused, who is being held without bond, has said the altercation was two-way, between two "loudmouths," and we wanted to see if the call would shed any new light on what it was like at the scene.

What you'll hear is the officer, Detective Jermaine Cook, calmly, but urgently, calling for backup as a man (or men) in the background threaten him and hurl obscenities and racial epithets. They maintain that the officer was struck only with a fist - clearly untrue - and they reference a knife that the suspect later says was used to stab him - though he suffered no stab wound and no knife was recovered. We can't know what truly happened in the leadup to Cook being struck in the eye, but the audio from afterward appears telling.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:52 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Baltimore, Harford County

May 7, 2010

Safe Streets reactivated; alleged gang leader pleads not guilty

A task force appointed to review the operations of a government-funded anti-violence program could not substantiate allegations that the group was taking cues from a powerful gang, but found flaws in the oversight of the Safe Streets program and recommends that control be shifted away from the city. Responding to the report, Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake lifted a funding freeze on the programs. Safe Streets - Photo by Ken Lam

The panel’s report was released the same day an alleged leader of the Black Guerrilla Family, accused of using violence outreach work as a cover for drug-dealing and gang activities, made his first appearance in federal court.

Todd Duncan, 36, pleaded not guilty to heroin conspiracy charges at a brief hearing in US. District Court. Duncan was hired through the Safe Streets process in 2007 when the non-profit Communities Organized to Improve Life was chosen to operate a West Baltimore site. Though the group’s funding was terminated a year later due to non-compliance, COIL continued to perform outreach work independently, officials said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 8:03 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: City Hall, East Baltimore, Gangs, South Baltimore, West Baltimore

April 29, 2010

O's pitcher rides along with city police

Orioles pitcher Kevin Millwood says he wanted to be a police officer before he began pursuing a career as a major leaguer, so on Wednesday he jumped at the chance to do a ride along with city officers. Jeff Zrebiec blogged about Millwood's experience on our Orioles Insider blog; police tell me Millwood rode around with police spokesman Donny Moses, a former narcotics detective, in East Baltimore and that they responded to a few calls of interest. Millwood, of course, has been a bright spot for the O's this season, and the night before received a no-decision in a game the O's eventually won over the New York Yankees. A segment about Millwood's ride along is expected to air on MASN, an official told me.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Baltimore

April 22, 2010

Baltimore police need help finding man connected to killing

Baltimore police are seeking help identifying this man in connection with Sunday's shooting death of Nelson Armstrong outside a carryout in the 1100 block of East North Ave. A police spokesman described the man as having "a significant role in the homicide."

Armstrong, 20, was found fatally shot several times and lying in a parking lot about 10:30 p.m. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital and pronounced dead about 30 minutes later. Police did not describe a motive.

Anyone with information about this man (picture from city police) is urged to call the Baltimore Police Department's homicide unit at 410-396-2012.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:36 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, East Baltimore