December 1, 2011

Man wanted in Canton robberies apprehended

A man being sought by police since the summer in connection with a series of robberies in Canton has been apprehended, according to court records.

Jerry Harcum, 26, was charged Wednesday with handgun-related charges that occurred Tuesday, according to online court records. Harcum was also served with at least three outstanding warrants charging him with robbery: A July 4 armed robbery charge, a July 24 armed robbery charge, and an August 24 robbery charge in Baltimore County.

Police would not provide information on the circumstances of the handgun arrest, though Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said Wednesday that one of the suspects detained in a series of robberies and carjackings in Baltimore City and Baltimore County Tuesday night had "open robbery warrants."

In August, police said they were stepping up efforts to find Harcum after tying him to at least two robberies in Canton, amid a wave of robberies targeting women and tourists walking late at night in Canton and Fells Point.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: South Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

November 28, 2011

Man sues city after DNA clears him of murder

The Sun's Tricia Bishop writes about a man cleared of murder by DNA, and who is now suing the city:

James L. Owens Jr., who spent 20 years behind bars on burglary and murder charges only to be freed in 2008 by a DNA discovery, has filed a $15 million lawsuit claiming Baltimore police and prosecutors intentionally suppressed exculpatory information in his case.

Owens, 46, says investigators pressured a key witness, who was later convicted as an accomplice in the case, into changing stories mid-trial in 1988 and that a jailhouse informant, who claimed Owens confessed, testified in exchange for special favors. The defense team wasn't told of either circumstance, according to the civil suit, which was moved into federal court recently from the city, where it was originally filed.

It's a disturbing case in which the only certainty is that a 24-year-old woman — a phone company employee and community college student — was brutally murdered a quarter century ago, stabbed, strangled and sexually assaulted in her Southeast Baltimore row house.

Read full story here.

November 18, 2011

Teen faces more charges in thefts from officers, district station

Walter Oliver joined the Police Explorers youth volunteer program, presumably, because he had an interest in becoming a police officer one day.

But along the way, authorities in two jurisdictions say, he began swiping equipment from officers who took him under their wing.

According to charging documents, he broke into Officer Joseph Tracy’s locker and took a police radio; He took an expandable baton and a wooden espantoon from Officer Charles Connolly; When Officer Karen Crisafulli wasn’t looking, he took her badge; and while on a ride-along with Officer Robert Hankard, Oliver took his Taser. After raiding his family’s Parkville home, police say they found a trove of other items.

Oliver, 18, is charged with multiple counts of impersonating a police officer and theft in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, according to police and court records.

Said Anthony Guglielmi, the city Police Department’s chief spokesman: “If he was interested in a career in law enforcement, he made some poor decisions. Now he’ll never, ever hold a job in law enforcement here or anywhere else.”

A relative reached at Oliver’s home Friday said he would have no comment.

Police say the alleged thefts appear connected to Oliver’s work as a security guard. He worked for a private company called Signal 88 Security, and surveillance video pulled by city detectives shows he wore Baltimore police gear while patrolling a treatment center in Southwest Baltimore.

Guglielmi said that doesn’t make the thefts any less serious.

“These were multiple, malicious attempts at violating people’s trust,” Guglielmi said. The Explorer’s program “is designed to foster relationships between police and kids, and he completely took advantage of that.”

Continue reading "Teen faces more charges in thefts from officers, district station" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:25 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County, Southeast Baltimore

November 17, 2011

Former police explorer charged with theft of police equipment

A former member of a police program for youths has been charged with stealing equipment from Baltimore city and county police, and officials said they are looking into whether he may be connected to some of the recent police impersonator robberies reported in the area.

Walter Oliver, 18, of Parkville, had been a member of the Police Explorers program in Baltimore County and Baltimore City. He was dismissed from the Towson precinct's program in 2010 for failing to follow rules, then joined the city's Southeast District program. He was dismissed from the city program about a month ago, officials said.

A city officer recently observed Oliver with a police radio, and Oliver explained that an officer had lent it to him, according to police. But officials realized that there had been a recent break-in of a Southeast District officer's locker, and obtained a search warrant for Oliver's home.

Inside, county and city police say they found numerous items including an $1,100 bulletproof vest, holsters, strobe lights, handcuffs, uniform shirts, patches and other items, according to city and county police officials. He's been charged in the city and Baltimore County with multiple counts of theft, as well as malicious destruction of property for the break-in, and was released on his own recognizance. But police say they are concerned about why Oliver had collected all of the items.

"There's a concern for police impersonation," said Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the city police. "We're dealing with multiple incidents of impersonation and home invasions, and it's a pretty serious offense. It preys on the trust that police have in the community."

Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County police, said the alleged thefts are not indicative of the Explorers program as a whole. Though Explorers are volunteers, they have to pass a background check and maintain a minimum grade point average.

"This kind of experience is extremely rare," she said. "We like this program because it's a recruitment tool for us, a way for young people with an interest in law enforcement to cultivate that interest."

A phone message left at Oliver's home was not immediately returned.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:41 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Baltimore County, Southeast Baltimore

November 8, 2011

Man who robbed Fells Point thrift shop, and beaten by customer, sentenced to 20 years in prison

In 2009, Michael Voorhis used a baseball bat to beat a man attacking his girlfriend as he held up the Fells Point store where she worked.

"I don't regret it at all," Voorhis told me today, after the suspect was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. His girlfriend, Brittany Byers, called the ordeal "absolutely terrifying" but still works at the store, Killer Trash, on Broadway.

Federal prosecutors said the suspect Mark Lomax, 41, was sentenced to prison on Tuesday. He was convicted by a federal jury in June at a trial during which both Byers and Voorhis testified. Lomax committed 14 other holdups in a month during the summer of 2009 at shops in Mount Vernon, Fells Point and downtown.

Lomax held up Killer Trash three times in eight days. On the final time, Voorhis, worried about his girlfriend, was waiting. When Lomax came in, he hit him over the head with a baseball bat, bragging later that he had gotten "three or four clean shots at his head."

The suspect got away, but dropped the $4 he managed to get from the register and his baseball cap. Both items had DNA that matched Lomax, prosecutors said. Police said he used a collapsible wooden yard-stick covered in tape and wrapped in a plastic bag to resemble a firearm.

Byers, who joined her boyfriend in going after Lomax, hitting him with a jewelry bag, said: 

“It was absolutely terrifying. It was intimidating to see him again in the courtroom. But there’s a part of you that says, you have to stick up for yourself. I couldn’t back down out of fear. This store is my livelihood. I’m not going to let somebody bully me out of my life.”
The picture of Voorhis was taken in 2009 by The Sun's Lloyd Fox.

November 4, 2011

Three police impersonators arrested, cops say

Authorities say they've arrested more police impersonators -- this time three men who cops said terrorized people in Southeast and West Baltimore.

Police said the suspects posed as officers, dressed in dark clothing and displayed gold badges. People in one case were robbed of money and cigarettes. Police said the suspects were pretending to "raid" the houses, seeking someone on a warrant.

Police arrested the men a short time later while "they were confronting another victim."

City police have been troubled by a spate of armed robberies and home invasions by people pretending to be police. Here is one of the latest stories by The Sun's Justin Fenton. The suspects are pictured here in mug shots.

More details from a police statement below:

Continue reading "Three police impersonators arrested, cops say" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore, West Baltimore

October 19, 2011

Arrest in previously unreported police impersonation robbery

Police have charged an Essex man with pretending to be a police officer and stealing cash and cell phones from a group of men in Washington Hill last month, court records show.

Ioannis Skordalos, 35, of the 300 block of Riverside Dr., faces of charges of robbery, impersonating an officer, theft and is being held without bail. There have been a series of other police impersonation cases in recent months, including one case in Greektown that occurred the day after Skordalos was charged, but he has not been linked to any other incidents.

A victim told police that three men wearing badges around their necks resembling FBI badges knocked on their door, in the 1800 block of E. Lombard St., and demanded to come inside, according to charging documents. One of the men held a clipboard with pictures of Hispanic males and told the three victims to sit on the couch, as two other suspects went upstairs and began looking through their belongings, court records show.

When one of the victims ask if they were really police, the man with the clipboard made threatening comments and said, "Shut up or we'll call [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement]!" according to court records.

The suspects walked outside and got into a white or tan Ford Expedition, and drove away. The victims checked their rooms to see what was taken and found that $1,015 in cash, two business checks and a cell phone were taken, police said.

Police developed Skordalos as a suspect, and the victim identified him as the man who was holding the clipboard, according to court records. 

Court records show Skordalos was previously charged with armed robbery and impersonating a police officer, in 2004. Those charges were dropped 10 days after he was charged. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

October 10, 2011

Man fatally shot in McElderry Park

UPDATE, 10 p.m.: The victim has been identified by police as 20-year-old Kevin Pierre. Based on the information given by police, Pierre did not appear to have a criminal record. We're trying to find out more about him, but feel free to post any remembrances in the comments section.

A man was fatally shot Monday afternoon in Southeast Baltimore's McElderry Park neighborhood, police said.

The shooting occurred at about 3:30 p.m., apparently at the intersection of Belnord Ave. and Pulaski Highway, with the unidentified victim running up the street and collapsing on Orleans Street, where the curb was covered in blood.

"I saw the dude laying on the ground, trying to catch his breath," said Shawnte Surles, 37. "After that, he wasn't breathing no more. ... It's hurtful. I wanted to cry. His mother and them came down, and they couldn't get over there .. they had to stay behind [crime scene] tape.

The shooting was the first in the McElderry Park neighborhood, historically plagued by gun violence, since Jan. 1. The Safe Streets violence interrupters program is centered there, with ex-cons and gang members paid to mediate disputes and teach alternates to gun violence. City officials say it has been successful, and are looking to expand it to other areas. The adjacent Ellwood Park community, which once had a Safe Streets post, saw two shootings recently.

Barbara Grant, 54, and Andre Anderson, 38, stood outside as police examined the crime scene. A bullet fired up the street grazed Grant's car and came to rest in the side mirror of Anderson's vehicle. Police told Anderson they would need to remove his mirror to take into evidence. 

Grant said her family moved into their home a year and a half ago, taking advantage of a program to encourage people to move into rehabbed homes in struggling neighborhoods. "You want to come into a neighborhood to bring up the value of the neighborhood ... we had no idea what we were getting into when we bought this house," she said.

"I just happened to have the day off - it's a government holiday," Grant said. "It's the middle of the day. I could've been out walking my dog. There's babies out here playing. There's kids walking home from school. It's crazy."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:27 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

October 4, 2011

Police impersonators steal $1,800 from Greektown man

Baltimore police are investigating another incident in which a resident has reported being robbed by suspects posing as police - at least the fifth such incident in recent months.

Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said police do not believe one group of people are committing the incidents, which have taken place across the city and involve different suspects. He referred to the latest attack as a "copycat" incident, though stressed that residents be alert and report suspicious activity.

The latest robbery took place in Greektown on Monday night. Police said three men knocked on a door in the 300 block of S. Lehigh St. at about 10:20 p.m. and said that they were police officers. According to the police report, at least one of them was wearing a shirt that had the words "Police" on it.

Continue reading "Police impersonators steal $1,800 from Greektown man" »

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

September 28, 2011

Man shot in front of Fayette Street carryout

Police said an unidentified man was shot in the head in the doorway of a carryout store in the 1400 block of E. Fayette St. The shooting occurred during rush hour, closing off a main artery out of the city as police investigated.

A food delivery driver sitting in his parked truck at the crime scene flashed three fingers when asked how many shots had been fired. Police didn’t have a motive or suspects, but three men sat lined up on a curb to be questioned. The unidentified victim’s blood coated the sidewalk as onlookers gathered on opposite street corners.

“We are encouraging any member of the public to contact the homicide section with information,” said Anthony Guglielmi, the police department’s chief spokesman.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

September 15, 2011

Person of interest in June 2010 killing

Baltimore police have released these surveillance camera stills in hopes of tracking down a person of interest in the June 2010 killing of 30-year-old Durell Cartwright in the 400 block of N. East Ave. Anyone with information was asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:57 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

August 30, 2011

City police nab man suspected in robberies, rape

A quick response helped Baltimore police apprehend last week a city man suspected in three robberies and a rape, records show.

Police arrested Branch Sparrow, 30, on August 26 after receiving a call for a robbery in progress at a bar in the 3600 block of Fleet Street, in Brewers Hill. The victims said one man had been outside the Quest bar smoking a cigarette when two men approached and followed him inside the bar. Inside, one of them pulled out a handgun and demanded money, threatening to shoot another patron in the head. The men stole money from the register and fled. 

The Southeast District's robbery detail was working at the time and observed two men, Sparrow and Allen Benny, in the 900 block of S. Potomac Street in Canton that matched the suspects' description. A handgun was found in a trash can nearby. Police say they are seeking a third suspect, pictured above.

After being taken into custody, Sparrow was served with warrants in three other cases. In one, he was accused of attempting to rob a video store in the 5800 block of Pulaski Highway on Aug. 13, records show. Police say Sparrow pulled a handgun on the clerk, who pressed a panic button and fled into a backroom after he said he would shoot her, records show. A police officer had recognized Sparrow from surveillance footage and identified him as the assailant, records show.

Then, on Aug. 19, a 37-year-old woman told police that she, her son, and her boyfriend had given Sparrow a ride to a gun store on Aug. 10 so he could purchase a firing pin for a weapon, according to court records.  When her son said he wanted pizza, Sparrow said he had some at his house in the 1200 block of Frailey Way and her boyfriend dropped her and her child off there. She said Sparrow gave her a soft drink that made her "feel funny" and began to force himself on her and bashed her head against a wall, records show. She lost consciousness and later awoke to find him on top of her forcing intercourse, court records show.

Records were not available for the third case, though online court records show he is charged in another robbery that involved a handgun, this time occurring on Aug. 25.

Sparrow, who received 10 years in prison after being convicted of robbery in 2003, is being held without bail. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:58 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

August 8, 2011

More robberies in Southeast Baltimore

City police say they are stepping up efforts to find a robbery suspect after two more incidents in Southeast Baltimore over the weekend, including the robbery of a family visiting from Connecticut.

Last week, the Baltimore Guide reported that police were searching for a suspect named Jerry Harcum (right) in connection with a series of robberies in the Canton and Fells Point area, targeting people walking late at night. Police said they have a warrant charging Harcum in two attacks, both targeting groups of four young women in Canton

Police are also looking into whether he may be tied to two more robberies that occurred over the weekend. Police confirmed that a family of four from West Haven, Conn. was robbed in Butcher's Hill, and three women were robbed in Canton.

On Saturday at about 10 p.m., the family were walking in the 100 block of S. Patterson Park Ave. were approached by a suspect wearing a ski mask and brandishing a silver handgun, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. The man ordered them to the ground and told them to throw everything in their pockets onto the street, he said. He ran off with a purse, money, cell phones, keys and documents.

In the other incident, three women in the early 20s were walking in the 900 block of S. Potomac St. at about 11:35 p.m. when two suspects ordered them into an alley and pointed a handgun at them, Guglielmi said. One victim was struck in the head as a suspect took her keys, and the suspects demanded money from another. The suspects fled in a blue or black Lexus with no license plates, Guglielmi said.

On July 4, four women were also robbed by a man brandishing a silver handgun in the 800 block of S. Montford Ave. near the Canton Market. 

Guglielmi said police will be stepping up efforts to find Harcum, who they say could be tied to the weekend incidents. Plainclothes officers and patrol officers will also step up patrol efforts in the neighborhoods, he said. Anyone with information about the robberies or Harcum's whereabouts was asked to call detectives at 410-396-2429, or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:57 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

August 5, 2011

Police seek man in robberies of women in Canton

City police are searching for a man believed responsible for robbing women in Canton.

The suspect, Jerry Jule Harcum, is being sought by police, who say he waits for bars to close and follows groups of women who are leaving bars or restaurants and then robs them. According to the Baltimore Guide, which first reported the incidents, there have been a "string" of such incidents, though police have not widely publicized them.

We've reached out to police to try to learn more about the cases. Court records show Harcum has since August 2010 been wanted on a violation of probation warrant stemming from a firearms conviction.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Southeastern District Detective Unit at 410-396-2429, or anonymously at 1-866-7-LOCKUP.

Read more from the Baltimore Guide's South and Southeast Baltimore crime blotter here.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:04 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Southeast 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.

July 27, 2011

Man who killed city officer with concrete brick gets 10 years

Sian James was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday for hurling a chunk of concrete that killed an off-duty Baltimore police officer last year during a heated argument over a parking space, The Sun's Tricia Bishop reports.

James, 26, was charged with murder in the death of Det. Brian Stevenson, but a jury in April convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum 10-year prison term.

His attorney said James — who was out on bail during the incident in a separate case charging him with the attempted rape of an ex-girlfriend — acted in self defense, believing the officer was intoxicated and going to shoot him and his friends.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry G. Williams said the court was "beside itself" over the "senselessness of it all."

"We have a life that is lost," Williams said. "This did not have to happen."

Stevenson's wife was left to ask the court Wednesday: "What man now is responsible for our family? Who do we belong to?"

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:21 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, Southeast Baltimore

July 26, 2011

They laughed, she shot, killing one

Se was 15, brandishing a silver revolver, and she pointed at two men in a robbery attempt. One of the men laughed, and she shot both in the head. One man died.

Today, Arteesha Holt pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with that brazen killing last year near Patterson Park. Sun reporter Tricia Bishop writes some chilling lines in her story (complete version here):

On Aug. 13 last year, two Honduran men — Jose Rodolfo Gonzalez-Coreas, 43, and Wilmer Bonilla, 26 — sat talking on row house steps near Patterson Park, when Holt approached them, demanding cash, a prosecutor said.

“Mr. Bonilla and Mr. Gonzales-Coreas did not take her seriously and began to laugh,” Assistant State’s Attorney Nicole Lomartire said during the plea hearing, reading aloud from a statement of case facts.

Holt fired the gun, grazing Bonilla and fatally wounding Gonzales-Coreas, who died a week later.

Holt fled and found her brother, Lomartire said. She was crying and repeating, ‘‘I did it, I did it.’”

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast 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 29, 2011

Police ID woman killed in Highlandtown area

Following up on a killing in Southeast Baltimore that occurred early Monday, police have identified the victim as 22-year-old Brittany Devone.

Police charged a man, Jose Villatoro, with Devone's killing after his roommate called police and officers saw Villatoro trying to escape out of a window of their home in the 3200 block of Leverton Ave. But it took more than a day to discern Devone's identity.

According to court records, Devone had a troubled past. She was convicted in February of attempted armed robbery and received eight years in prison, but seven years and six months of that sentence were suspended. She was back on the streets on June 3, when she was arrested for prostitution.

Police have not said why Devone was at Villatoro's home or released a motive for the crime. It appears to be Villatoro's first arrest in Maryland. 

Police also released the identity of a man fatally shot on June 17 in the 600 block of Ashburton St.: Troy Fennell, a 39-year-old whose last known address was in the 2900 block of Southland Ave. That case remains open.

Fennell also had recently been handed a heavy conviction by the city courts, but served just a short time. In March he pleaded guilty to drug distribution charges and got 12 years in prison, but 11 years, 11 months, and 29 days were suspended. Here's Fennell's obituary, at the Joseph Brown Funeral Home web site.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:11 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

June 28, 2011

Police know murder suspect, but not victim

City police have identified and arrested a murder suspect - but figuring out the identity of his alleged victim would prove to be a bigger challenge.

Early Monday, police were called to the 3200 block of Leverton Ave. after a witness said he had heard muffled screams and saw a man inside the home holding a knife. He fled and called police.

When officers got there at about 5 a.m., they called out to the suspect, Jose Villatoro, and observed him trying to escape through a window, police said. He was taken into custody. Inside the home, police found a dead woman in a bedroom. She was suffered from stab wounds to her body and neck area, police said.

Villatoro was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, and was being held without bond.

Police had collared a suspect, but would have to work backwards to find out the identity of their victim. All they knew was that she was a black female.

On Tuesday afternoon, police received a phone call from the state medical examiner's office confirming the woman's identity. She is a 23-year-old, according to Detective Donny Moses, a police spokesman, and officers were working to contact her next of kin.

Her relationship to Villatoro - if any - was not clear. 

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

June 27, 2011

Woman fatally stabbed, man shot by police impersonators

[This post has been updated]

A 32-year-old man was bound and shot Monday morning after three assailants kicked in the door to his Northeast Baltimore home, identifying themselves as police officers, officials said.

About the same time, officers in Southeast Baltimore were called to a home were a young woman was found fatally stabbed in a bedroom. The incidents are not believed to be related.

In the first incident, police said three men kicked in the door to a home in the 1500 block of Medford Rd., in the Ednor-Gardens Lakeside community, and bound a man and his wife with plastic “flex cuff” handcuffs.

Anthony Guglielmi, the police department’s chief spokesman, said at a morning briefing at police headquarters that the man realized the intruders were not officers and began to fight back, and was shot once in the upper body.

Continue reading "Woman fatally stabbed, man shot by police impersonators" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:13 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Northeast Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

June 13, 2011

Unusual plea puts killer in prison

It seems an odd deal — plead guilty to gun possession, agree to be imprisoned in a federal penitentiary for up to 25 years, and then admit to killing a man on East Pratt Street in Upper Fells Point back in 2009.

But that’s what Antonio “Dollar” Edwards did last week in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. As part of his agreement with federal prosecutors, the 28-year-old will have to plead guilty to first-degree murder in state court. Once he does that, he will get to serve his time for both crimes in the federal system.

The Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office described this unusual plea deal in a statement and in court documents filed Friday. Federal authorities get a conviction on a gun case for a three-time felon, and state officials can avoid a trial in the slaying case.

The benefit for Edwards?

Continue reading "Unusual plea puts killer in prison" »

June 7, 2011

Greektown traumatized by pit pull attack

City authorities have cited pit bull owners with letting their dog off a leash after it attacked a 78-year-old woman in Southeast Baltimore's Greektown community, leaving the victim hospitalized and her neighbors seething.

The Sun's Jean Marbella reports (read full story here):

Athina Neofitou, a member of the church, remained in intensive care at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, her son-in-law Dennis Koulatsos said. She underwent facial reconstruction surgery, one arm is broken in two places and doctors are checking on whether she has other fractures as well, he said.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Koulatsos said. “She was screaming in pain.”

The one-year-old dog, named Blue, was put down on Tuesday, and the Baltimore City Health Department said it would be tested for rabies. Its owner, Henriett Rouzer, who lives across the street from Neofitou, was cited by animal control officers for allowing the dog to run free and failing to license or vaccinate it.

Rouzer, 38, said she had the dog euthanized after hearing that Neofitou’s family had requested it.

“We understand that they are upset,” said Trina Moore, 36, who lives with Rouzer in the 700 block of Ponca St. “If it were vice versa, we would be upset too. But it was an accident.”

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:58 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

June 6, 2011

Man shoots pitbull in Severn; dog attack in city

Anne Arundel County police are investigating the fatal shooting of a pit bull in Severn. It apparently occurred during a fight between two dogs, and the man who opened fire said the only way to stop it was by using gunfire.

And authorities in the city are investigating a pit bull attack on an elderly woman in Southeast Baltimore's Greektown neighborhood. The dog has been quaranteened until the investigation is complete. We don't have an immediate update on the woman's condition.

Meanwhile, Tricia Bishop reports that one of the twins accused of setting fire to a pit bull two years ago has been arrested again and charged with drup possession. The animal cruelty trial ended with a hung jury and is to be tried again.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County, Southeast Baltimore

June 1, 2011

Baltimore Guide blotter - May 25 - "You can thank Chris"

Excerpts from this week's Baltimore Guide police blotter for South and Southeast Baltimore (For more, click here):

-S. Collington Avenue, 300 block, May 20, 9:50 p.m. A man told police that a second man whom he did not know entered his home through an unlocked door, pulled a handgun and told the man, “You know what I want and you can thank Chris.” The suspect took oxycodone and $250 cash, then walked out

-S. East Avenue, 1100 block, May 16, 9:10 a.m. The Department of Transportation reported that someone had taken a boot off a car and driven away with it.

-1000 block Light St., Friday, May 20, 10:58 p.m.: A bar security guard was bitten by a 22-year-old patron who had stolen a purse from the bar.

Continue reading "Baltimore Guide blotter - May 25 - "You can thank Chris"" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Best of the Blotter, South Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

May 31, 2011

Have you seen this man?

No, rapper Rick Ross is not a suspect in a Southeast Baltimore murder. But witnesses told police that one of the men involved in the shooting of 34-year-old Payton Rivers early Tuesday has similar features.

Rivers is believed to have left his home to get food when he was approached by two males, one who was clutching a handgun and shot him, according to police.

When officers arrived, Rivers was sitting in the 3400 block of E. Baltimore St., suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. A motive was not known.

Witnesses described one suspect as a short black male with close-cropped hair, wearing a blue and black striped V-neck shirt and dark-colored shorts. The other, Guglielmi said, was described as being chubby with a "Rick Ross-style" beard, a reference to the rapper's large beard.

Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:46 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

May 19, 2011

Lowlights from this week's Guide crime blotter

A lengthy blotter in the Baltimore Guide for the Southeast District this week. For more, click here.

Eastern Avenue, 4000 block, May 5, 10:10 p.m. A woman told police she and her boyfriend had gotten into an argument because she had asked a man she did not know for a cigarette. The boyfriend attacked her, punching and slapping at her. The woman refused medical attention, and the boyfriend was arrested

Thames Street, 1700 block, May 9, 2:55 a.m. A man told police he had been out on a sailboat with some friends, and that he had been drinking with them. As he was trying to catch a cab home, he was jumped from behind by several men who took his backpack, sweater, phone and $300 cash he happened to be carrying

S. Robinson Street, 200 block, May 10. 6:13 p.m. An elderly woman answered her door and found a suspect described as a black woman wearing all white and riding a black bicycle. The woman told her she was collecting money to help pay the medical expenses of a child who had been bitten in the face by a dog. She asked the elderly woman to wash a container for her. While the elderly woman did so, the suspect robbed her of jewelry and cash, then fled.

S. Eden Street, 400 block, May 9, 10 p.m. A woman told police she had concealed her gun in a floor lamp, and was surprised to discover someone had taken it and the five rounds it was loaded with.

Eastern Avenue, 6400 block, May 9, 1:46 p.m. Someone stole a donation jar filled with change intended to help homeless animals.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Best of the Blotter, Southeast Baltimore

May 5, 2011

Baltimore Guide blotter - May 5

A sampling of crimes in Southeast Baltimore from the Guide's weekly blotter of crimes in South and Southeast Baltimore, which you can read in full here:

800 block W. Barre St., Tuesday, April 26, 10:30 p.m.: A woman struck another woman in the head with a picture frame and an ashtray, then tried to cut her with a knife. A warrant has been obtained for the assailant’s arrest.

Thames Street, 1000 block, April 23, 11 p.m. A man told police that a woman had approached him as he was leaving a party and said, “Can I walk with you? I’m afraid I might get beat up.” They left the party together, and someone struck the man on the head, and the woman directed the suspect to take the man’s wallet and cell phone. They fled with this property.

Pratt Street, 1800 block, April 28, 12:45 a.m. A man told police he had parked his car when a man approached him, threatened him with a gun and said, “Give me your bags,” then robbed him of cameras, property belonging to his business, his cell phone and keys.

E. Baltimore Avenue, 2300 block, April 26, 1:25 p.m. A man told police he had been out walking when three teenaged boys pulled a knife and robbed him of his bicycle. All three were arrested.

E. Lombard Street, 4000 block, April 25, 2:02 a.m. A man told police he was inside a club and someone had hit him in the head with a glass bottle.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:14 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Best of the Blotter, South Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

Baltimore bank robber sentenced

A 35-year-old man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for robbing a bank last year in Southeast Baltimore. Authorities said Brian Louis Clark stole $1,416 from a Wachovia Bank branch in the 4800 block of Eastern Ave.

Prosecutors said Clark handed a teller a note that said, "I have a gun, count out the money in your drawer." The teller stepped back from the window, and authorities said Clark "became agitated," grabbed another employer and demanded that she order the teller to give him money.

After getting money, police said Clark forced one of the workers to "walk out of the bank with him." He took her about a block before freeing her on South Ponca Street.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast 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 27, 2011

Jury convicts man for killing cab driver

A man charged with calling a cab in Frederick and killing the driver when they arrived in Baltimore in January 2009 was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder, according to the city’s State’s Attorney’s Office.

A jury hearing the case in Baltimore Circuit Court also convicted Robert Lee Murphy, 22, with using a handgun in the commission of a violent crime and robbery with a deadly weapon. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 23 and faces life plus 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said that Murphy called all three cab companies located in Frederick but dispatchers refused to take him to Baltimore because he did not have enough money — $75 to $90 — for the 50 mile trip. Prosecutors said the suspect had $50.

Instead, prosecutors said Murphy requested a ride to a convenience store about a mile away. Yellow Cab driver Stephen Mauk, 47, picked Murphy up in a minivan (picture above by The Sun's Jed Kirschbaum) about 12:15 a.m. on Jan. 26.

Continue reading "Jury convicts man for killing cab driver" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:59 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

April 24, 2011

City police investigate four slayings

Police are investigating four homicides that occurred early Sunday in Southwest and West Baltimore. Names of the victims have not been released. Here's what a department spokesman sent out to reporters:

Continue reading "City police investigate four slayings" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:36 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore, West Baltimore

April 20, 2011

Four shot in city, one fatally

SEE UPDATE BELOW (There have now been 55 homicides in Baltimore this year, up from 52 at this time in 2010)

Four people were shot in Baltimore in a roughly three-hour period starting a little after 11 p.m. One man shot in West Baltimore was killed, two shot in one incident in Southeast Baltimore were wounded, as was a man shot in Southwest.

The first of the shooting occurred after 11 a.m. in the 600 block of North Curley St. Police said a 20-year-old was shot in the back and was in critical condition this morning. A 23-year-old was shot in the stomach and was treated and released from a hospital.

About 20 minutes later in West Baltimore, a man was found shot in the back in the rear alley of the 500 block of Schroeder St.  The unidentified victim was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and pronounce dead at 12:14 a.m. 

At 2:07 a.m., police responded to the 2100 block of Garrison Boulevard for a man shot in the hand. 


Continue reading "Four shot in city, one fatally" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:50 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore, Southwest Baltimore, West Baltimore

April 19, 2011

Employee at bail bonds shop charged in shooting

An employee of a bail bonds shop on Eastern Avenue has been charged with shooting a man who was fleeing the store after getting into an argument over fake gold, Baltimore police said today.

The victim was struck in the leg; the suspect was identified as Jose Centeno, 26, of the 3800 block of Glengyle Ave. in Reisterstown. He was charged with attempted first-degree murder.

Police said he was one of two employees of Big Louie's Bail Bonds who produced guns during the argument, which occurred last week.

Here are more details from police:


Continue reading "Employee at bail bonds shop charged in shooting" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:34 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

April 14, 2011

Victims fund run Saturday

Support crime vicitms and run at the same time.

The Baltimore State's Attorney's Office is raising money for crime victims with it's 11th annual Victim's Fund Run & Walk, being held this Saturday at Patterson Park. The run starts at 9 a.m. It is timed to commemorate National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein called it a "great way to spend a Saturday morning. We're going to have people from throughout the Baltimore area coming together to show our support for crime victims and to enjoy some exercise and coversation in Patterson Park."

The first 400 people to register will get a T-shirt. There will be cash awards for the top three male and female finishers in a 5K race. There also will be raffle drawings with gifts that include airline tickets and gift cards to area hotels and restaurants.

You can register at here at Charm City Run or call 410-396-1897. It costs $20 to register ahead of the race, and $25 to register the same day. Same-day registeration can be done between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. at the Virginia S. Baker Recreation Center in Patterson Park.

April 13, 2011

Dundalk shooting leads to chase through Baltimore

[UPDATE: County police say three people - two male teens and a female - were shot in the incident in Turners Station]

Police say a shooting in Turners Station touched off a chase that led through Baltimore and ended when the suspect vehicle crashed into a city police officer's cruiser in Northwest Baltimroe.

Details about the shooting were not immediately clear, but at least two people were struck, according to reports. At about 8:30 p.m., I started getting Twitter messages from people who reported seeing a large number of police cars flying through Southeast Baltimore. It's fairly typical for me to get a message or two like that in a given night, but they kept coming in, and from all over the city - Fells Point, downtown, Northwest Baltimore.

Police say the chase ended in a collision at Northern Parkway and Reisterstown Road. A city police officer was injured and taken to Maryland Shock Trauma with non-life-threatening injuries. Amid that chase, authorities were also responding to the shooting of a female in the 4500 block of Westchester Road north of Leakin Park, and two fires in Northwest Baltimore. 

1 in custody after attempted robbery at Greektown bail bonds company

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One man is in custody after shots were fired during an attempted robbery of a bail bonds business in Greektown, police say. Just before 2 p.m., police say two men entered the Big Louie La Fianza bail bonds office in the 4500 block of Eastern Ave. in an attempt to commit a robbery, but police said they fled after an employee of the business fired a weapon at them.

Det. Kevin Brown, a police spokesman, said one of the suspects "almost ran right into a police car in the area" and was captured, while the other suspect remains at large. Brown said police were checking to make sure the gun was licensed, and he did not immediately release the identity of the captured suspect.

Big Louie exclusively provides bail bonds for the Latino community, according to its web site.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:46 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

April 11, 2011

Involuntary manslaughter conviction in officer's death

After the verdict was read, two detectives in the front row hung their heads and buried them in their hands. Friends and relatives reached out to each other for comfort, eyes welling up and staring forward in disbelief.

Jurors had found 26-year-old Sian James guilty in the killing of off-duty Baltimore Police Det. Brian Stevenson — but the charge fell far short of their expectations.

“We’re completely unhappy,” Stevenson’s partner, Det. Thomas Jackson, fumed after the verdict. “In the blink of an eye, he took the life of this great individual, and now all that we’re left with are memories.”

James, a former Jiffy Lube manager, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for hurling a piece of concrete at Stevenson’s head during an argument over a parking spot in Canton last October. Prosecutors said James ratcheted up an argument into a deadly assault. His defense attorney said James had been threatened and feared for his life.

James had faced charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and carrying a dangerous weapon. He was convicted only of involuntary manslaughter. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years at sentencing in July.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, Southeast Baltimore

April 10, 2011

Man critically wounded in Fells Point stabbing

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A 23-year-old man is in critical condition after he was stabbed during a fight with two men at a Fells Point store early Sunday, Baltimore police said.

Police said the victim bumped into one of two men while entering a Royal Farms store at about 2:25 a.m. in the 2000 block of Fleet Street, and then they all exchanged words and started fighting. One of the men stabbed the victim and both fled the scene, but patrol officers found and arrested the suspects, police said.

Police said criminal charges are pending.

-Gus Sentementes

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:16 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

April 8, 2011

Man charged with killing city officer takes stand

Sian James, the 26-year-old man accused of killing an off-duty Baltimore police officer during a dispute over a parking spot, took the stand Friday to try to convince a jury he was defending himself and his friends when he hit Detective Brian Stevenson in the head with a piece of concrete last October in a Canton lot.

But prosecutor Charles Blomquist questioned that claim, pointing out that James and his friends proceeded with their plans of going to a downtown club despite supposedly being in fear for their lives.

Under questioning from his attorney, John Denholm, James, a Jamaican immigrant who came to the United States in August 2005 and worked as a Jiffy Lube manager, said Friday that Stevenson eventually turned his attention away from Gibson and toward James, saying "I'll shoot you in your face." James added that Stevenson was fiddling with his waistband.

"I thought I was gonna die," James said on the stand, crying. "I thought he was going to shoot me, and shoot my friend."

Read more from The Sun's Yeganeh June Torbati.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

Reputed drug dealer charged with dumping scalding water on pair

An alleged member of a Baltimore drug organization tied to a rash of violence across the city has been charged with attempted murder after police say he dumped scalding hot water on a 71-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman to punish them for stealing drugs.

Police wrote in court papers that the victims were receiving free "testers" of heroin in exchange for allowing two men to stash drugs in their apartment in the Latrobe Homes projects, in Southeast Baltimore. On Feb. 17, the dealers, identified as 28-year-old Eric Rich and second man who has not been arrested, checked on the stash and believed the amount to be short.

The victims denied taking any of the drugs, but Rich and two other men began assaulting them with sticks and a glass ashtray, police say. The attackers then forced them to remove their clothing and sit in a bathtub, heating water on the stove until it was scalding and dumping on them, records show.

The victims did not seek medical attention because they were fearful for their lives, they told investigators. Officers noted in court papers that they had visible burns when they met with police weeks later on March 3.

Rich is alleged to be a member of an organization known as the "Chapel Hill Boys" that engaged in a high-profile feud with reputed drug kingpin Steven Blackwell, who is incarcerated as he awaits a trial on federal charges. Authorities have said the feud was touched off with the abduction of Blackwell's 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.

Several members of Blackwell's organization and the Chapel Hill Boys were killed during the outbreak of violence that stretched more than a year, while others were charged and convicted of weapons or drug offenses.

Police filed charges against Rich in the burning case in early March, and he was picked up on April 1 after an officer on patrol in the Monument Street area on the east side attempted a traffic stop on his 1997 BMW. Officers wrote that Rich took off at a high rate of speed and was observed dumping a baggie of brown powder - suspected heroin - out of the window. He was eventually stopped in the 400 block of Bouldin Street and taken into custody.

Rich is being held without bond, court records show, while the second suspect has not been arrested.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:39 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

April 7, 2011

Trial to start in officer killing

The trial of a man charged with killing an off-duty Baltimore police officer using a chunk of concrete during a dispute over a Canton parking space is scheduled to begin this morning. Check back for updates on opening statements.

The Sun's Jessica Anderson reports: Police said Sian James struck Detective Brian Stevenson, an 18-year veteran and married father of three, in the left temple with a "fist-sized" concrete fragment, just an hour before the officer's 38th birthday last October. James is charged with first-degree murder.

The altercation happened in a private parking lot in the 2800 block of Hudson St. about 10 p.m. Oct. 16. Police said Stevenson was out having dinner with a longtime friend near Canton Square, and the argument broke out in the parking lot of an eye care clinic. The detective suffered "massive head injuries" and was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where he died.

Read a tribute to the the officer. The photo above from the funeral was taken in October by The Sun's Jed Kirschbaum.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, Southeast Baltimore

April 3, 2011

Howard Co. officer arrested for assaulting city officer

UPDATE, 2 PM: County police sent out a statement from Howard County chief William J. McMahon: "Lechter has been a probationary officer since August 2010. ... Lechter has been suspended pending an investigation, which includes immediate suspension of his police powers and no contact with the public. No other HCPD officers were involved in the incident."

"The actions described in these charges, if accurate, do not meet the expectations set for members of the Howard County Police Department. As Chief of Police, I have been briefed and ordered an internal investigation immediately. I have reached out to Commissioner Bealefeld to express my concern about Lechter's alleged involvement in this incident."

A Howard County police officer was arrested early this morning in Southeast Baltimore after police say he punched a female officer in the head then yelled, "I'm a cop!" as officers placed him in handcuffs.

According to court records, officers were attempting to disperse a crowd at Canton Square in the 2900 block of ODonnell St. at 2 a.m. when someone yelled "[Expletive] the police," who the city officer believed to be Casey Robert Lechter, an off-duty Howard County police officer. Another man, Kary Williams, said he was the person who made the statement, and the city officer told him to leave the area, according to records.

Williams refused, and the city officer told him he was under arrest, records show. While she was placing handcuffs on him, Lechter punched her in the head from behind and pushed her away, records show. Police records say a private citizen grabbed Lechter and pinned him against a parked vehicle as additional officers arrived at the scene to help.

Continue reading "Howard Co. officer arrested for assaulting city officer" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:44 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Howard County, Southeast Baltimore

March 30, 2011

Gun stolen from businessman was registered to police commander

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltimore Guide police blotter - March 30

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Baltimore Guide police blotter - March 30" »

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

March 29, 2011

Tragedies inspire 11-year-old city boxer

[Photo by Sun photographer Karl Merton Ferron]

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

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

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

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

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

March 28, 2011

Canton rapist gets 40 years for two attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 24, 2011

Guide blotter: business owners fight back

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

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

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

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

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

March 22, 2011

Four more shot in city

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

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

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

March 17, 2011

Police seeking "REAL GOON," bathroom sink

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

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

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

Continue reading "Police seeking "REAL GOON," bathroom sink" »

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

March 14, 2011

Woman and 4-month-old son still missing

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

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

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

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

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

March 12, 2011

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

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

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

For more details on the shootings:

Continue reading "Teen critically injured in dirt-bike crash; several people shot in unrelated incidents" »

March 11, 2011

Baltimore police seek woman, infant son

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

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

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

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

February 12, 2011

Stolen camera spotted on Craigslist leads to arrest in Canton burglaries

An observant homeowner who spotted his stolen camera being sold on Craiglist led Baltimore police to an undercover sting, a take-down at a coffee shop in Canton and an investigation that closed a series of burglaries in the neighborhood.

Sunday's Crime Scenes column walks you through the investigation and profiles the suspect, who police said had decorated his apartment with looted items that he hadn't yet sold:

Inside, Layton wrote in court documents, he saw Driver's stolen X-Box hooked up to the television set. On a shelf, the officer said, he saw the victim's stolen bottles of gin and vodka, lined up in an "orderly fashion," as if they had been there for months.

The detective also saw a pile of jewelry, cell phones and computer equipment, and over the next few weeks, he painstakingly matched the items to four other burglaries in Canton between June and January in which thousands of dollars of items were reported stolen.

A license plate number etched on the back of a cell phone led him to the victim of one burglary. A number in another phone's directory labeled "Dad" led him to the father of another victim. A home phone number found on a portable computer drive led to a third.

Court documents reveal a series of burglaries that in some cases required several pages of police reports to list the missing items — laptop computers, video game consoles, expensive watches, guitars, iPods, smart phones, cameras and handbags.

And that's just the stuff you'd expect to be stolen in a burglary.

The list of missing loot includes steaks taken from a freezer along with a George Foreman grill. There's a stack of missing children's videos — unopened Blu-ray discs of "Wall-E," "A Bug's Life," "Cars" and "Monsters, Inc." — and videos for older folks, such as a boxed set of "Seinfeld" and the second season of "Big Love."

From one house, an engraved $1,300 Swiss Tag Heuer watch was stolen. From another house, a $2 box of Rice-A-Roni was taken from a cupboard.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:17 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Confronting crime, Neighborhoods, Southeast Baltimore

February 3, 2011

Man guilty in robberies that left business owner dead

A federal jury on Thursday convicted the mastermind of a series of brazen robberies that netted more than $300,000 and left a Southeast Baltimore business owner zip-tied and duct-taped to a chair, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Nikolaos Mamalis, 53, of Edgewood, faces at least 57 years in federal prison and could get up to life when he is sentenced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in May. Four other conspirators pleaded guilty in the case and are to be sentenced over the next three months.

The guilty finding after a seven day trial brings to a close a complicated and violent scheme that led investigators from a city warehouse to a hotel in Atlantic City. The 54-year-old Southeast Baltimore vending machine owner, Constantine “Dino” Frank, died shortly after the robbery at his shop.

Federal prosecutors said Mamalis knew Frank and other victims and used his knowledge of their shops, homes and money they stored in them to plan the attacks. Police arrested them after learning through a wiretap that they planned to commit a home invasion in New Jersey.

Continue reading "Man guilty in robberies that left business owner dead" »

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 19, 2011

The rest of the week in crime

As we've lamented in this space before, we miss retired Sun scribe Dick Irwin and the police blotter, but the Baltimore Guide is doing its part to pick up the slack. Here's some excerpts from this week's edition for South and Southeast Baltimore:

"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" Department:

Belnord Avenue, 400 block, January 16, 8:30 p.m. A man told police that he pulled over to stop a fight between two men he did not know. The men turned on him and hit him in the chest. The man got back in his car to drive away, then later discovered he had been stabbed and went to a local hospital for treatment.
Mt. Pleasant Avenue, 3400 block, January 14, 11:45 p.m. A man told police that his wife and another woman had gotten into a fight. He tried to separate the two women when a third man struck him on the head with a beer bottle, then fled. The wife refused to make a report, but the suspect was arrested later.

"Guide Blotter reporter Jacqueline Watts Correctly Calls you a Lowlife" Department:

Beale Court, 200 block, January 16, 7:30 a.m. Someone broke into a home through a front door and took a TV, two phones, DVDs and a player. The same lowlife also took the elderly resident’s wheelchair."

Continue reading "The rest of the week in crime" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Best of the Blotter, South Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

January 13, 2011

Baltimore police hunt robbery suspect

Baltimore police are searching for a man and woman suspected of being involved in a robbery of a woman's purse nearly a year ago. Authorities released photos of the suspects, who they say might be involved in additional, more recent attacks.

According to a police report, the 25-year-old victim was walking east in the 2000 block of Eastern Ave. about 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 10. She told police she walked past a man who then turned and came up to her from behind. He put a handgun to her left side, and, according to the report, said, "Give me your purse."

About 90 minutes later, police said a surveillance camera in a Royal Farms Store captured the couple who police believe were involved in the holdup.

Those pictures are here. Anyone with information is urged to call police at 410-396-2429.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:04 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southeast 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 23, 2010

Santa pick-pocketed in Fells Point

"I've always wanted to hug Santa," the 50-year-old woman said as she hugged a man dressed in a Santa costume on Dec. 19 in Fells Point.

She held herself close, rubbed against him - and picked his pocket. 

As we continue to lament the retirement of Sun reporter Dick Irwin and the demise of the police blotter, we are also thankful that the Baltimore Guide continues to sift through those logs of lesser crimes. The above incident is from their blotter, which doesn't go into details about the crimes, sometimes with comic effect.

To wit:

"Boston Street, 4200 block, December 15, 1 p.m. Someone entered a business and stole a vibrating table."

I must know more.

UPDATE: Jacqueline Watts, editor of The Guide, reports that the vibrating table was used to sift spices. That was my guess too. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:27 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

December 22, 2010

Police searching for duo in Southeast Baltimore robberies, killings

City police say a string of recent robberies and shootings in Southeast Baltimore — including the fatal shootings of two men — may be linked to a pair of suspects.

The most recent shooting occurred early Wednesday, when an unidentified man was fatally shot about 12:25 a.m. in the 3700 block of Mount Pleasant Ave. in the Baltimore Highlands neighborhood north of Highlandtown. The victim was walking with a group of people when they were held up, and he was shot when he tried to run, police said.

Police said victims and witnesses in other recent robberies and shooting incidents in the Patterson Park area have described being robbed by a pair of black males between the ages of 25 and 30 who were wearing dark clothing.

Wednesday morning's victim was a Latino man, the second Latino man shot in the area since Saturday, but police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that robbery and circumstances — not race — appeared to be the motive in the recent cases. He said ballistics tests and case notes were being compared to see how many crimes may be linked to the pair.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 8:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

December 19, 2010

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.

November 18, 2010

Baltimore Guide police blotter

$37.41 worth of ice cream treats stolen from a 7-11. Someone walks into a bar, takes $400, and slips out. A man beats up his girlfriend and steals her cell phone and methadone. A neighbor tries to scare off men burglarizing a nearby house.

These aren't the kind of crimes that make the daily headlines, but once had a place in the Baltimore Sun's police blotter. That features has regrettably gone by the wayside with the departure of longtime night reporter Dick Irwin, who retired recently from The Sun, but the blotter lives on - at least in South and Southeast Baltimore - in the Baltimore Guide, which is still compiling a weekly blotter of those just-missed-the-news incidents from the neighborhood.

Here are some examples from this week's Guide blotter, compiled by Jacqueline Watts:

Continue reading "Baltimore Guide police blotter" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:09 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: South Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

November 17, 2010

Does this man deserve a parking ticket?

Here's the quandary of the day:

Whit MacCuaig lives on Gough Street in Upper Fells Point. He's twice been victimized by crime (an assault and a burglary) and lives near where several people were violently attacked this past summer.

Twice a week, he comes home late from school, and to avoid lugging his laptop computer on dark neighborhood streets, he double-parks, runs in to dump off the computer and comes back to begin what can be an arduous search for a parking space.

In September, he got a $252 ticket for impeding traffic.

Gough Street is wide and he says cars were able to get by both him and the parking agent as she wrote the ticket.

Question is does he deserve to be ticketed? A full story is posted here and many have already weighed in, pro and con, with some suggesting he's wrong and deserves the fine and other saying he was trying to be prudent and shouldn't be penalized.

I've seen many people in my neighborhood double park, sometimes blocking an entire street, to quickly unload groceries or take babies inside. That seems acceptable and being patient is part of understanding the difficulties of parking in the city.

Should the parking agent investigated a bit and use what some readers are calling "common sense" to determine that the driver has a good reason for briefly double-parking? Or did the agent have every right to issue the fine? 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:41 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

November 10, 2010

Police commissioner feeds homeless

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III spent part of Tuesday evening handing out bags of meal to homeless men to raise awareness for St. Leos Church's Little Italy Hands and Hearts program.

The program, founded in 2007, gives out about 85 bags of meals, donated by nine Little Italy restaurants, every Tuesday at Baltimore Street and Central Avenue outside Baltimore Rescue Mission.

These photos were taken by The Sun's Kenneth K. Lam.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:15 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Confronting crime, Southeast Baltimore, Top brass

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" »

October 19, 2010

Judge denies bond to man in police killing

As the city prepares for another police funeral, a District Court judge ordered the 25-year-old man charged with killing an off-duty Baltimore police detective held without bail. Sian James is charged with hurling a fist-sized chunk of concrete at Det. Brian Stevenson during an argument over a parking space in Canton.

James, the suspect, is at far left in his mug shot. Officer Stevenson is at the right.

The Sun's Justin Fenton was in the courtroom Monday when James had his first bail review, and about all the public defender could do was ask for a lower bail and say his client worked at a Jiffy Lube before the judge made it clear he wasn't going to entertain such thought.

Justin's article details the suspect's criminal record: 

James, who was born in Jamaica, has no prior convictions, though he was out on bond after being indicted in July on charges that he attempted to rape his ex-girlfriend after storming into her apartment. The woman had alleged months of abuse and filed for two protective orders.
The 18-year veteran of the police force had gone out Saturday night to eat dinner with a friend the night before his 38th birthday.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:47 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, Southeast Baltimore

October 18, 2010

Three more shot in Baltimore

In addition to the Baltimore police officer who was killed Saturday night in an argument over a parking space in Canton, three other people were fatally wounded in the city this weekend. More details on the violence can be found here.

The Baltimore Police Department released some information on two of those shootings. Det. Kevin Brown sent this update: 

Non-Fatal Shooting
10/17/10 - 15:08 Hrs
2300 Blk of Orem Ave
Officers respond to an area hospital for a walk-in shooting victim.  Victim, a male black, born in Jan, 1966, was shot multiple times and advised it occurred as he left a corner store.  At present no suspects or motives.  Victim was in serious but stable condition at last check.  
Non-Fatal Shooting
10/17/10 - 16:58 Hrs
5400 Blk of Nelson Ave
Officers responded to the an area hospital for a walk-in shooting victim.  The victim, a male black born in August, 1983, sustained a gunshot wound to the torso and advised it occurred at Nelson and Rogers Ave.  At present, no suspects or motives.  Victim was critical but stable at last condition check.

Police also sent out some update stats on shootings and homicides:

174 Homicides
335 Non-Fatal Shootings
2009 (as of Oct. 18)
181 Homicides
366 Non-Fatal Shootings

October 17, 2010

Man formally charged in detective's death

A 25-year-old Southeast Baltimore man was charged Sunday with killing an off-duty Baltimore police detective, who died after being struck in the head with a piece of concrete during an argument over a parking spot in Canton.

Detective Brian Stevenson, an 18-year veteran and married father of three, had gone out to have dinner on the eve of his birthday when he and Sian James got into an altercation in a private parking lot in the 2800 block of Hudson St. at about 10 p.m. Saturday.

Police say James (seen at right in his booking photo) picked up a piece of concrete and hurled at Stevenson, striking him in the right temple and causing him to fall to the ground.

James was arrested after police located him later that night at Mosaic, a club in the Power Plant Live area of downtown. 

James, lived around the corner in the 2800 block of Dillon St., Court records show he was charged in July with attempted rape, third-degree sex offense, assault and false imprisonment. Initially held without bond, he was released in mid-September on $150,000 bond.

Details of that case were not immediately available, and his attorney, John Denholm, could not be reached for comment.

Records also show that in late July James was ordered to stay away from a woman who had filed her second protective order against him in a span of four months. Reached for comment, a man who answered the woman's phone said that they could not discuss James because of an "ongoing situation."

Continue reading "Man formally charged in detective's death" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:50 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

Baltimore detective, 37, killed in off-duty assault

An off-duty Baltimore police detective, taking part in the Canton nightlife on the eve of his birthday Saturday, was killed after being struck in the head after an argument, police said. He would have turned 38 today.

Brian Stevenson, an 18-year veteran, was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Bayview not long after he was attacked in the 2800 block of Hudson St. at about 10 p.m. Acting on witness descriptions, police located several suspects and expected to charge them.

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III told reporters outside the hospital that the argument was "incredibly petty."

"It's an incredible tragedy for the family, for all of us," said Bealefeld, who spoke with Stevenson's family members along with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "The city's losing.. we're losing a fantastic detective who works to make people safe in this city. It's just senseless."

Bealefeld said Stevenson was having dinner with a longtime friend at a Canton club when they got into an argument in a parking lot, reportedly over a parking space. Crime scene technicians were processing evidence in the parking lot of a Mercy Medical Center eye care clinic at 2801 Hudson Street.

Police said the suspect picked up an object - a rock or piece of concrete - and hurled it at Stevenson, striking him in the right temple and causing him to fall to the ground.

Continue reading "Baltimore detective, 37, killed in off-duty assault" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:03 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Breaking news, Southeast Baltimore

October 14, 2010

Jury in Norman Stamp wrongful death civil trial visits scene

The jury in the wrongful death civil lawsuit brought by the widow of city police officer Norman Stamp, who was shot in 2008 when on-duty officers responded to a Southeast Baltimore strip club where Stamp was a patron, visited the bar Wednesday. I hadn't been able to sit in on testimony beyond opening statements last Thursday, until yesterday, when I heard testimony given by Officer Jason Rivera, who said he didn't see Stamp get shot and described a chaotic scene outside the Haven Place. Testimony continued today, and we'll update the case when a verdict is handed down.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:38 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Police shootings, Southeast 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 11, 2010

Another violent weekend in Baltimore -- 5 dead

Six shooting this weekend left five people dead and three more injured.

Friday, just before midnight: 46-year-old man fatally shot inside a house in the 3000 block of Pressbury St.

Saturday, 12:01 a.m. A 51-year-old man fatally shot in the stomach in the 3100 block of Grantley Ave.

Saturday, early morning: A 33-year-old man was shot and killed on Warwick Avenue in Coppin Heights. A 28-year-old man was shot and injured in the same incident.

Saturday morning: A 42-year-old man said he had been robbed and shot at Old Town Mall. He walked into the Central District police station and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Saturday, 8:15 p.m.: 22-year-old man fatally shot in the head in the 4700 block of Shamrock Ave. in Belair-Edison.

Saturday,  8:53 p.m.: man fatally shot in an alley in the 3500 block of N. Calvert St. in Oakenshawe. Police say this shooting might be related to the one on Shamrock.

Sunday, 9:30 p.m.: man shot in the ankle in the 3300 block of Ingleside Ave. 

On Sunday evening, Baltimore police said a man was stabbed on Rogers Avenue and that he was being treated at a hospital. And Sunday morning in Anne Arundel County, a man was reported shot and wounded in Severn.

October 1, 2010

Attorney: Mario's arrest related to mother's drug problems

An attorney for singer Mario, who was arrested this morning and charged with assaulting his mother, released a statement:

"This is an unfortunate incident between a loving son and a mother who continues to struggle with a devastating addiction," said William "Hassan" Murphy III. "Anyone who has waged the battle to save loved ones from the forces of drugs knows the irrational behavior that almost always accompanies their actions. Mario remains committed to supporting his mother."

Murphy would not answer questions about the specific allegations. Mario's mother, Shawnita Hardaway, called police to their shared Fells Point apartment early Friday and said he had hit her and destroyed their apartment. Police saw a broken china cabinet and a hole in a closet door. Hardaway said he had shoved her into a wall days earlier.

Mario, who has appeared on Dancing with the Stars and the films Freedom Writers and Step Up, was raised by his grandmother in Gwynn Oak due to his mother’s drug problems. But in recent years she has become a greater presence in his life – their relationship was chronicled on an MTV special, I Won't Love You To Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom.

Continue reading "Attorney: Mario's arrest related to mother's drug problems" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:12 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

R&B singer Mario arrested for assault


[UPDATED INFORMATION, including that police were dispatched to the home for a "mental case," as well as the mother's account of her injuries, after the jump]

Baltimore-born R&B singer Mario was arrested and charged early this morning after police responded to an altercation that involved his mother, according to court records and two law enforcement sources.

There are few details at the moment, but court records show Mario - whose full name is Mario Dewar Barrett - is charged with one count of second-degree assault. Sources said they were called to the 900 block of Fell St. after the singer's mother called police. 

The 24-year-old was held on $50,000 bond by a District Court commissioner, which he posted and was released. Photo at left is from Central Booking.

A few years ago, the singer started a charity to mentor and support children of drug addicts. The Sun reported that the charity was a personal cause, as his mother has struggled for years with heroin addiction. Shawntia Hardaway's story was chronicled on an emotional MTV special, I Won't Love You To Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom. At the time of the article, she had been sober for a year, and was helping Mario with the foundation.

He's appeared in several movies and Dancing with the Stars, released four studio albums, and in 2008 then-City Council President and now Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave Mario the keys to the city. 

Continue reading "R&B singer Mario arrested for assault" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:20 AM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

September 30, 2010

Parents of slain teen threaten lawsuit

The parents of 16-year-old Annie McCann, who was found dead nearly two years ago in Southeast Baltimore, are threatening to sue the city for up to $12 million, alleging police shelved the investigation and wrongfully concluded that the girl took her own life.

Dan and Mary Jane McCann have been fighting the city since their daughter mysteriously ran away from their Fairfax County, Va., home on Nov. 2. She left a letter that police concluded was a suicide note. But her parents note she wrote that that she thought about killing herself but had changed her mind and decided to run away.

How she ended up dead behind a trash bin in Southeast Baltimore had remained a mystery for nearly two years, and the McCanns have relentlessly pursued detectives and other authorities to do what they consider a proper investigation.

Find more stories on Annie McCann here.

The Medical Examiner ruled the cause of Annie's death undetermined but said she ingested a lethal dose of lidocaine from drinking from a 5-ounce bottle of Bactine. Police have suspended the case, saying the evidence points to suicide.

With the help of private investigators, the McCanns say they have unearthed many clues that have yet to be answered. They include:

A mysterious text that Annie got on her cell phone days before she disappeared from a convicted drug dealer in Northern Virginia.

A still mysterious woman that a waitress says she saw with Annie at a Little Italy pastry shop one or two days before her body was found.

Continue reading "Parents of slain teen threaten lawsuit" »

September 29, 2010

Parents of dead teen continue to press for answers

The parents of Annie McCann continue to seek answers.

Convinced that their 16-year-old daughter did not run away from her Virginia home of her own volition, and did not kill herself once she reached Baltimore by drinking Bactine, Daniel and Mary Jane McCann (at left, in a photo by The Sun's Amy Davis) are refusing to give up.

Read more on the twists in the case here.

The couple have scheduled a news conference for Thursday to update the public on their private investigation. They say have "significant new developments" into the case but wouldn't divulge them to me on Wednesday.

As you might remember, Annie left home Oct. 31, leaving behind a note that said she had contemplated suicide but decided to run away instead. Her body was found two days later off Lombard Street east of the Inner Harbor. Her car was found dumped two blocks away.

The cases has had dozens of twists and turns, including youths who admitted to finding her body in the car, removing it to near a trash bin at a public housing complex and taking the car for a ride. There were other suicide notes, written and crossed out, found both at Annie's home and by her body. The Medical Examiner has ruled the cause of her death undetermined but said she overdoses on lidocaine from drinking a bottle of the antiseptic Bactine.

Did she drink it herself or did someone force her to down the bottle? The McCanns say the drug wasn't enough to kill her, that her note indicated she had changed her mind and was not a declaration of suicide, that she met at least two mysterious people in Baltimore. They are angry that Baltimore police shelved the investigation in March 2009, saying they're sure Annie took her own life.

It is not a conclusion the McCann's can live with. We'll have more have the news conference on Thursday.

August 27, 2010

Arrest report says 14 year old murder suspect wanted help with anger

Relatives of 14-year-old Arteesha Holt, charged as an adult with fatally shooting a man in Southeast Baltimore, told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday that the girl had a violent, uncontrollable temper and that they had sought help to no avail. Mother Raichelle Johnson said she was told that her daughter would have to commit crimes, or Johnson would have to terminate her parental rights in order to get the help that Holt needed.

Johnson encouraged me to fact-check her claims, though juvenile and social services records are sealed. But a charging document from one of Holt's earlier arrests helps support her story. Police who were called to Booker T. Washington Middle School encountered Holt, who refused to calm down and screamed expletives. Afterward, both the girl and her mother said she needed help, according to the Investigative Voice:

"The officer spoke to Artesia’s [sic] parent Mrs. Micelle [sic] Johnson who stated that her daughter needs some help from the juvenile justice system, to help with her behavior that’s out of control. I also spoke it suspect Artisan [sic] Holt who informed me that she feels as though she need some help in reference to her attitude [and] that she feels that she can’t really control."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:11 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

August 24, 2010

14 year old girl charged in fatal shooting

Breaking late: Police have picked up and charged the 14 year old girl sought in connection with a double shooting in Southeast Baltimore that left one man dead. The girl has been identified as Arkeesha Holt and is being processed at Central Booking, police spokesman Donny Moses told The Sun's Jessica Anderson.

The double shooting was an attempted robbery, and police say the men laughed when the girl demanded money. She then shot both, killing one. Police said in the days after the shooting that the incident may be gang related, and it was the first time police acknowledged a growing trend of violence against Latinos. Since then, a 51 year old Latino man has been killed and leaders are rallying against the violence.

We'll be gathering more details tomorrow. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:35 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Breaking news, Southeast Baltimore

Police to address attacks on Latinos

City officials are planning a news conference in Patterson Park to address growing concerns by Latinos that they are being targeted. The latest victim is Martin Reyes, who was beaten to death with a board. His cousin was shot in the forehead in July.

The attack on Reyes (left) appears to be by a mentally unstable man who has been arrested and charged and told police he hated "Mexicans." All the victims have been Honduran. Police think some of the victims were robbed because they are easy targets -- carry cash, are walking home late at night from work and are scared of immigration.

The Sun's Nick Madigan found this out about Reyes:

Reyes, who had spent most of the past decade in Baltimore, had six children, most of whom remained in Honduras. One daughter was adopted, and another, Norma, lives a few blocks from the room he rented in a rowhouse on Kenwood Avenue. His 35-year-old son-in-law, Pedro Concepción Diaz Aguilar, shared his space.

"When he was in Honduras, he liked to work with cattle and horses, in agriculture," Diaz Aguilar said Monday as he tried to raise money to send Reyes' body home. "And he dealt in grains and beans — wheat, coffee, frijoles — which he'd buy and resell. He'd move a lot of stuff. Here, it was different. We'd work together, remodeling kitchens, making cabinets — laborers' work."

Another Honduran who knew Reyes said he was "calm and humble," and a good friend. "He never interfered with anybody," said Eberto Funez, 42, who has been in East Baltimore for four years. "When he died, he was just coming from visiting a relative, and unfortunately his number came up."

Miguel Gutierrez, 33, said he had known Reyes since he was a child growing up in the same village, San Antonio, in La Paz, near Honduras' border with El Salvador. Gutierrez said he had come to Baltimore six months ago from Houston at Reyes' urging, and had lived with the older man for a time until he found his own place.

"He's known me since I was a baby," Gutierrez said. "He was always a gentleman, and gave me good advice. He'd say I shouldn't go around drinking, and that I shouldn't be out in the streets."

Here's how the suspect, Jermaine Holley, was out of jail at the time of the killing:

Continue reading "Police to address attacks on Latinos" »

August 23, 2010

Three dead this weekend, two hurt in prior incidents

A series of bloody weekends has had police on the offensive, stepping up patrols, increasing deployments and holding regular meetings among commanders. The updated homicide count from the weekend suggests not much changed, though only one of the killings actually occurred this weekend.

-Martin Reyes, 51, was fatally beaten early Saturday in the 200 block of N. Kenwood Ave, the latest in a series of apparently unconnected attacks on Hispanics. Jermaine Holley, 19, confessed to the crime, saying he "hates Mexicans," though court records show he has a history of schizophrenia and was hospitalized and receiving treatment as recently as last month.

-Another Hispanic man who was the victim of a recent attack two weeks ago succumbed to his injuries over the weekend. He has not been identified yet, but police are searching for a 13- or 14-year-old girl who attempted to rob the victim and another man, who was shot and survived. Police said last week that the robbery try may have been gang related.The incident happened in the 100 block of N. Linwood, not far from where Reyes was attacked.

-Police also added the death of Contray Davon Merchant, 29, who was assaulted on Aug. 6, 2007 in the 5100 block of Queensberry Ave. in Northwest Baltimore. Police spokesman Kevin Brown said Merchant died on May 17 of this year, with an autopsy concluding that his death was related to that incident.  He's the third victim this month who was injured in a previous month or year.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

Police say 13-year-old girl suspect in shooting

Baltimore police are searching for a 13-year-old girl who they suspect in a robbery and fatal shooting in East Baltimore. Authorities say the attack, in which a second person was shot and wounded, was one in a string of incidents targeting Hispanic men in recent weeks.

The Sun' s Scott Calvert reports this mornig that police say the girl tried to rob two men Aug. 13 in the 100 block of N. Linwood Ave, about a block north of Patterson Park. When the men resisted, police say the girl shot them both. One of the men died Saturday.

This latest case comes after a 19-year-old man was arrested and charged with beating to death 51-year-old Martin Reyez with a wooden board because, he told police, he had a hatred toward Mexicans. Jermaine R. Holley has been charged with first-degree murder.

Above, The Sun's Colby Ware captures Officers Henry Yambo and Javier Conve visiting Patterson Park resident Joey Tichnell to brief him on the recent beating.

Cavert reports today that the suspect could've been behind bars at the time of the killing:

Holley was ordered jailed last month after failing to appear for a probation violation stemming from a 2009 case, according to court records.

In July 2009, Holley was sentenced to three years' probation for misdemeanor drug charges. In April, he was picked up on a new drug charge and in June for failing to pay taxi fare.

On July 13, Holley failed to appear in court for the probation violation. District Court Judge L. Robert Cooper issued a bench warrant ordering that he be held without bail. Within days, the judge recalled the warrant. It was not clear Sunday whether Holley spent any time in jail or why Cooper recalled the warrant.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:26 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, Southeast Baltimore

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 17, 2010

Youth assaulted in Patterson Park

People packed an emergency community meeting in Southeast Baltimore Monday night to express their anger and fear over a series of attacks in and around Upper Fells Point. Packs of youths have robbed and assaulted several people in the past few weeks.

While police have made one arrest, they are searching for many more people, and detectives aren't yet sure how many are responsible. One attack is being investigated as a hate crime -- black youths said "[Expletive you, white boy," to a man he was beating.

Police have told us of five attacks since Aug. 2 but not all fit a pattern. In one, the suspects are white had a gun; most of the others involved eight to 10 teens who were not armed. One victim was a local real estate agent who recounted the assault and his feelings about living in Baltimore.

Last week, Bruce Robertson called me to ask why the assault on his son had not been reported.

Continue reading "Youth assaulted in Patterson Park" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:58 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Confronting crime, Southeast Baltimore

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

Meeting in Southeast District to discuss recent Fells Point robberies

Melissa Techentin, the ever-busy president of the Southeastern District Police Community Relations Council sent out an email last night announcing an emergency meeting in the district on Aug. 16 to discuss a rash of recent robberies in the Upper Fells Point area. Since our article, there's been at least one more robbery, though none of them seen to fit a particular pattern. The number of suspects varies, and in one case the attackers were white. But they've taken place in a very tight area and raised alarm in the neighborhood.

The meeting will be held Aug. 16 at the Southeastern District station at 5710 Eastern Avenue and will be led by Maj. Bill Davis. Here's Melissa's email:

Continue reading "Meeting in Southeast District to discuss recent Fells Point robberies" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:17 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

August 9, 2010

Baltimore county officer loses gun in bar fight, police say

A Baltimore County police officer has been suspended with pay after he was arrested early Friday and charged with second-degree assault after getting into a fight at a city sports bar and losing his service weapon, authorities said Friday. A copy of the city police incident report, obtained today, offers a slightly different account.

According to county police, the officer arrived about 2 a.m. at Carlos O'Charlie's Sports Bar in the 3500 block of Eastern Ave. when he began arguing with another man. The two men went outside the bar and began fighting, police said. A copy of the incident report shows that the victim said the officer ran up to him and began hitting him. He said the fight was unprovoked and that he wanted to press charges.

At some point, the officer's gun came out of its holster and fell on the ground, according to Cpl. Mike Hill, a county police spokesman. Hill said an unidentified man picked up the gun and left the scene. According to the incident report, however, the officer said he "dropped the gun," indicating that he had pulled the weapon. A witness to the fight also called The Baltimore Sun to say that McClarin had pulled the gun and dropped it as others tried to restrain him.

City police were called and had to use pepper spray to subdue the officer, according to Hill and the police report.

County police would not identify the officer, but city police identified him as Parrish McClarin, 25, of Towson, pictured at right. He does not show up in the Maryland Case Search database as an arresting officer in any cases, despite six years with the Baltimore County Police Department. I'm trying to figure out how that's possible and if his name may be misspelled in these documents. McClarin shows up as the arresting officer in more than 50 cases since 2005.

Records show McClarin was released on $7,500 bail. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:25 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Baltimore County, Southeast Baltimore

August 7, 2010

Police arrest one in Fells Point attack

Baltimore police have arrested one person in connection with an attack this past Monday in Upper Fells Point. So far, the suspect has been charged in one incident; police are still investigating whether he was part of a group of eight to 10 teens who attacked at least three men this week.

The suspect is identified as Leonard Copeland, 22. At the moment, he is being charged with one cont of first degree robbery. No details of how he was arrested or what evidence police have collected has been released.

The attacks have frightened residents in the area south of Johns Hopkins Hospital and west of Butcher's Hill and Patterson Park. Hopkins, which has an office in Upper Fells Point, sent out crime alerts warnig its employees.

One of the attacks has been classified by police as a possible hate crime.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 5:32 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, Southeast Baltimore

August 6, 2010

Upper Fells Point attacks -- a victim's viewpoint

A series of attacks in Upper Fells Point, at least two involving groups of 8 to 10 youths who are beating and robbing people, has unnerved this Southeast Baltimore neighborhood. Police say they're investigating one attack as a possible hate crime -- one man shouted "[Expletive] you white boy" as he hit the victim.

But one of the people targeted, Mark Simone, also happens to be a real estate agent. I found that particularly interesting because he sells houses in the city, meaning he must champion it, and how he faces the same issues others have been complaining about -- whether the city is safe enough to inhabit.

Simone told me he still feels safe and he likes city living, but now he and his wife are considering getting a gun and that he no longer snjoys the same sense of security. Here's the full story on the beatings, and here is Mark Simone in his own words about living in Baltimore:

"It was the scariest moment I've ever had. ... We're not going anywhere. But we definitely don't feel as comfortable in our own home as we did before. … We had a sense of security here which is totally gone."

"Some people feel comfortable in different elements. That's the important part, for people to feel comfortable where they are living. ... I am passionate about Baltimore and I'm not going to let a group of kids change that.

"We've talked about getting a gun. I think we're going to get one now. These guys have my ID. They have my license. They know where I live. I'm not a big guy. There's not much I can do to defend myself without having a weapon.

"If people ask if I've been attacked, I'm not going to lie. But I'm not going to be a walking advertisement for the dangers of city living."

August 5, 2010

Fells Point attacks; one ruled hate crime

Concern is growing in Upper Fells Point as police search for suspects in a series of attacks and robberies, one of which has been classifieid as a hate crime. Johns Hopkins, which as offices in the neighborhood, has issued an alert to its employees.

The Sun's Justin Fenton reports today:

Police said there have been four attacks involving males who were thrown to the ground and punched and kicked while walking alone after dark. In at least one case, a handgun was displayed, and cell phones and other property were taken.

At least one of the attacks was being investigated as a hate crime and others could be, as well, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. A 24-year-old recruiter at an information technology staffing company was walking in the 300 block of S. Ann St. about 9:35 p.m. Tuesday when he saw a group of black males between the ages of 16 and 19, according to a police report.

He walked past the group and was followed. One of the suspects wrapped his arms around the man's throat and forced him to the ground, and the group beat him on the head and body, the report says. The victim told police that the suspects repeatedly used an expletive and referred to him as "white boy." They took his cell phone and $100 in cash.

Here is the Hopkins alert:

Continue reading "Fells Point attacks; one ruled hate crime" »

July 23, 2010

Baltimore cop pleads guilty to shooting at car

A Baltimore police officer pleaded guilty in Circuit Court to shooting at a car after a dispute in Canton last year. Patrick A. Dotson, 28, is scheduled to be sentenced in September but he agreed as part of his plea deal to a 10 year prison term, with all but 18 months suspended.

Sun court reporter Tricia Bishop writes:

According to court records, Dotson was off duty in the early morning hours of March 9, 2009, when he and other officers got into a fight with bar patrons at Fins on the Square in the 2900 block of O'Donnell St. The brawl spilled onto the street, was broken up, then resumed a block away.

Dotson battled with Dustin Jackson, who later got into a car with a buddy and drove off. When Dotson saw them pass, he "produced a handgun and fired," said Assistant State's Attorney, David Grzechowiak. The car was struck near its gas tank.

His conviction comes on the heels of Baltimore Officer Gahiji Tshamba's indictment this month on murder and handgun charges connected to the off-duty killing of an unarmed man outside a Mount Vernon nightclub. Another Baltimore officer, Tommy Sanders III, was acquitted of manslaughter last month in the 2008 shooting death of an unarmed suspect who ran from him to evade arrest.

July 6, 2010

Immigration raid on hookah bar

This is somewhat old news, but it's following up on a reader tip I received a few weeks ago. According to federal court papers, agents from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raided the VIP Hookah Bar in Little Italy on June 23 and have zeroed in on owner Fawzi Shehata as they investigate allegations of marriage fraud for the purpose of evading immigration laws.

The bar, located in the 900 block of Eastern Ave. between two rowhouses inhabited by a 98 year old woman and an 86 year old woman, had been the source of many neighborhood complaints, operating without even having an occupancy permit. The front door advertised belly dancers, but Shehata claimed it was a coffee shop and there was not actual belly dancing going on. Its lack of permits came to light at an October community meeting with police and city officials, but it apparently stayed open. I'm not immediately clear on whether they gained the necessary paperwork.

Court papers indicate that ICE agents suspect Shehata illegally obtained a green card and committed marriage fraud by marrying U.S. citizen Angelica Alshade in Durham, N.C. in 2006. But the papers show he has been living with his Egyptian ex-wife and the mother of his five children in an apartment above the bar.  The records show that ICE agents received a tip that Shehata is also being sought on a warrant in Egypt after being convicted of embezzlement. Agents conducted surveillance on the hookah bar in April

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:18 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

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 17, 2010

City cops make gun busts

Baltimore police have taken a bunch of guns off city streets this week, bringing the yearly total to 979 illegal weapons and more than 400 arrests.

Here is a look at some of the seizures made since Sunday:

A man at Water and Gay streets, near City Hall and Police Headquarters, was arrested with a loaded handgun on Sunday. That same day, police said they executed a search warrant in the 600 block of Wildwood Parkway in Southwest Baltimore and found a shotgun.

On Tuesday, police arrested a man in the 500 block of N. Ellwood Ave. and charged with illegally possessing a loaded .40 caliber handgun. On Tuesday, cops arrested another man with a loaded handgun, this time in the 3200 block of Tivoly Ave. in Northeast. (less than an hour later, a man was fataly shot several times at North Fulton Avenue and West Lanvale Street in West Baltimore.

Also on Tuesday, police arrested two more people and seized a loaded handgun and drugs at one location and then, at another in the 600 block of East 41st St., they arrested a 37-year-old man carrying a lodaded handgun.

On Wednesday, police arrested a 21-year-old man in the 200 block of N. Monroe St. on a burglary charge. Police said he also was carrying a loaded handgun.

And earlier today, a 17-year-old was reported shot during a fistfight in Northwest Baltimore.


June 15, 2010

Alleged Patterson Park Bloods leader indicted

The alleged leader of a Southeast Baltimore Bloods gang was indicted by a federal grand jury on drugs and weapons charges, federal prosecutors announced.

Kevin Chambers, also known as “BK” and “Kaos,” is alleged to have led a gang called the Rollin’ 20’s Bloods that sold large quantities of crack cocaine and heroin along Fayette Street, around one of the city’s most persistently troubled areas, and in Patterson Park.

The indictment comes about two weeks after two men were shot within an hour in the nearby McElderry Park neighborhood, and two sources told The Sun at the time that the shooting was believed to stem from a dispute between the Rollin’ 20’s Bloods and a group called the Lueders Park Pirus.

"We are pulling out all the stops to accelerate federal violent crime and gang cases in an effort to head off additional shootings this summer and continue to build on the positive momentum of recent years," said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein in an e-mail.

Court papers allege that Rollin’ 20’s members possessed and distributed firearms and committed acts of violence, including armed robberies and assaults, though it does not detail those incidents.

Chambers, 29, of the 1100 block of N. Milton Ave. faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for drug conspiracy charges and a maximum of 20 years for gun conspiracy charges.

He was indicted May 25 in Baltimore Circuit Court on several drug-related charges. He was convicted on handgun charges in 2007, receiving a suspended sentence and three years probation, and has prior drug convictions.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:47 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Gangs, Southeast Baltimore

Woman hurt after car hopped curb in Greektown

A 22-year-old woman was injured early Saturday after a vehicle fleeing police drove onto the sidewalk after the second night of the Greek folk festival, police said.

Police were called to the 4800 block of Eastern Ave. about 2 a.m. after a woman said a man who made a lewd comment at her pulled out a handgun and pointed it at her and her boyfriend, according to an incident report. As witnesses notified security for the Greek Folk Festival, the man and three others fled in a 1999 BMW.

With the 500 block of S. Ponca St. closed to traffic because of the festival, the car veered onto the sidewalk and up a ramp in front of St. Nicholas Church.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:23 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

June 14, 2010

Census worker killed in Baltimore; bureau considers it on duty death

A U.S. Census worker was killed while dropping off a co-worker in Southwest Baltimore last week, according to police and the census bureau.

Spencer Williams, 22, was found shot June 7 inside his vehicle, which had pulled onto a median in the 1100 block of New Hope Circle, police said. He died Friday morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Williams was a crew leader responsible for a group of census takers who are doing follow-up visits to homes of people who did not mail in their questionnaire by April, a Census bureau spokeswoman confirmed. Malkia McLeod confirmed a Washington Post report that Williams was returning home after driving a co-worker home at the end of the day, and was considered to still be on the job.

Police and census officials said the shooting is not believed to be related to any census field work but is considered an on-the-job death. Officials were exploring whether it the shooting was domestic related.

Since the census began making follow-up house calls in late April, workers have been harmed or threatened 252 times, McLeod said. That includes 11 times when shots were fired at them, and 86 times when they were threatened with weapons such as guns, axes and crossbows.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:55 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

June 1, 2010

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 27, 2010

DNA helps cops solve 91 cold case

Baltimore police alone have used a statewide database of DNA hits to make arrests in more than 100 crimes over the past three years. This week, they say it helped close a 1991 rape and murder of an 86-year-old woman from Canton.

A DNA sample taken from Eddie Arcaro after he was arrested and charged with stealing $2,025 from a liquor store matched DNA taken from the victim, Anna Keusch, who was killed above her Canton grocery store on June 1, 1991.

For law enforcement, this is yet another victory for a program pushed for by the governor to collect DNA samples from everyone charged with a violent crime or theft-related case. Arcaro knew the victim -- he had lived in one of her rental homes and did odd jobs -- and his mother was devastated by the news.

It's unclear how much scrutiny he initially got by homicide detectives at the time, though people in the neighborhood tell me his name surfaced as a possible suspect amid the rowhouse gossip. A homicide lieutenant described evidence in the case this way: "Everything was cold."

April 13, 2010

Home invasions on the rise

The Baltimore's Suns police beat reporter Justin Fenton writes today that home invasion robberies are on the rise in Baltimore. There are some great details in the story, including one robbery who wore a skull cap with "superman" written on the side and another who told his victims to "have a nice day" as he left:

Residential robberies were up 34 percent through April 3, compared with same period a year ago. It's the only category of crime on the rise. Homicides, rapes and overall robberies are down by double-digit percentages, according to police.

Police say they can't pinpoint any driving force behind the uptick, and they aren't ready to blame a still-struggling economy or drug activity. The increase is being felt across the city, but most heavily in Northwest Baltimore, which has notched 21 residential robberies compared with eight at this time last year.

Northeast Baltimore has seen the second highest-total, with 19, and the Southern District's total has doubled, to 14 from seven. Unlike a burglary, a residential robbery requires the presence of a victim in the home or business and the taking of property through force or fear. A burglary, also referred to as breaking and entering, does not involve an encounter with the owner and might not even entail theft.

March 26, 2010

Homicide trends in 2010

A few days ago, I talked about improvements to our city homicide map, and today I got to playing around with my database and saw some notable trends for the 37 homicides recorded through March 25. (You can find the map along the right side of this screen)

-First, homicides are down 24 percent.

-For the first 37 victims last year (a number the city hit on March 1), two were female and five were juveniles. There were 31 black victims, four white victims, one Hispanic victim, and one Asian victim.

-This year, there have been no females killed, one juvenile (one-month-old Rajahnthon Haynie), and all victims have been black. If those first two trends continue, you will continue to hear officials tout their work on domestic violence and juvenile offenders, as both areas have been on the decline not just this year but last year as well.

-Through this date last year, each police district had recorded at least one homicide. This year, and let's cross our fingers, the Southeast District has yet to see a murder. The Southern District has just two total shootings, including one homicide.

-As for non-murder trends, it can be summarized like this: Everything is down by double-digits, except home invasions, which are up considerably. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:22 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Confronting crime, South Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

March 23, 2010

Man who claimed to be police officer pleads guilty

A 39-year-old Edgemere man who claimed to be a police officer while waving a gun outside a Southeast Baltimore bar last fall pleaded guilty in Baltimore District Court today and received a suspended three-year sentence, the state's attorney's office announced.

Arthur Campbell, of the 2500 block of N. Snyder Ave. told police that he was trying to break up a fight at the Angel Inn in O'Donnell Heights and showed a membership card for the Police Emerald Society, a fraternal organization for area police officers of Gaelic descent, charging documents show.

Under the terms of a plea deal, District Judge Catherine O'Malley (yes, that's the governor's wife) sentenced Campbell to a three year suspended sentence. Campbell had to relinquish the weapons seized by police, and will be included on the city's gun offender registry.

When we wrote about Campbell's arrest in the fall, we were told that he owned a trucking company and that he was a member of the Police Emerald Society who had been sponsored by a police officer member. Here's more from that original story:

Continue reading "Man who claimed to be police officer pleads guilty" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:51 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, Southeast Baltimore

March 22, 2010

Father of baby found buried in Druid Hill Park speaks

The Sun's media partner, WJZ, tracked down the father of Rajahnthon Haynie, the one-month-old who police say was killed and buried in Druid Hill Park by his mother, Lakesha Haynie. Police say the father, whose identity is being concealed by WJZ because of threats made against him, told detectives of the child's death and showed them where he had been buried. Rajahnthon was Haynie's fifth child; the first four had been taken away by social serivces. He said Haynie was so fearful of Rajahnthon being taken away that she gave birth in his apartment; "I cut the umbilical cord," he said.

"I did everything in my power that I could to help her make it right, but this is one thing that I just couldn't fix.  It was out of my control," the father said.

He claims his girlfriend is bipolar and was off her medication.

"There's certain instincts that she didn't have, you know, that a mother should have," he said.  "That nurturing thing that a mother's supposed to have for her child, especially a newborn.  Lakisha had four of her kids taken from her and she really wanted to keep this one."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:57 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore

March 21, 2010

Two officers injured, suspect killed in overnight shooting

UPDATE: The two officers wounded in the shooting were Officer Keith Romans (shot in the face) and Officer Jordan Moore (shot in the hand), according to a law enforcement source. Both officers appear to be very new to the force - neither has any arrests in the court database prior to February 2009, meaning they've likely been on the streets for just over a year. No word yet on the victim's identity.

Baltimore police say two officers were shot during a traffic stop and are in serious but stable condition. The suspected shooter was killed by return fire.

Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the shooting happened about 12:21 a.m. Sunday. Three officers, part of the BPD's Monument Street initiative launched last year to combat a spate of violence in that area, had pulled over the suspected shooter for an unknown traffic offense and smelled marijuana. Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said the officers were taking the occupants into custody when one of the officers and the 30-year-old driver of the vehicle got into an altercation.

"The struggle quickly became so violent that the other two officers went to his assistance, and all three were trying to get that man under control," Bealefeld told WBAL Radio. 

The suspect was able to break free and get back to his vehicle, where he drew a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun and opened fire, Bealefeld said. One of the officers was struck in the right cheek, with the bullet lodging in his jaw, and another was hit in the hand, nearly severing his finger, in the ensuing gun battle. The suspect was hit several times and died at the scene, Bealefeld said.

The Monument Street corridor is one of the city's areas that is both high-traffic and high-crime, and last year police deployed additional resources there after 18 people were shot at a cookout and several people were fatally shot in separate incidents.

We don't know the names of the officers or the suspect, but we'll update as we learn more. I don't have my spreadsheets with me, but if my memory serves me this is the third police-involved shooting of the year, which is behind last year's pace.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:07 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Police shootings, Southeast Baltimore

March 9, 2010

City cops bust alleged twin burglars

Baltimore police have arrested 18-year-old twin brothers in connection with a series of burglaries in six houses in the Southeastern District and seized stolen flat-screen television sets, radios, video game players and DVD players, authorities said on Tuesday.

Ronald (far left) and Ronnie Sinkler, of the first block of North Clinton St., were each charged with more than 50 counts of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, theft and destruction of property and are being held without bail at the detention center pending a hearing scheduled for April.

Few details were immediately available, including the locations of the burglaries. Police said they raided the twins’ house and discovered “an enormous amount of stolen property” and that fingerprints from the house matches fingerprints taken at “one of the many houses that were burglarized.”

Among the stolen tems recovered, according to police, were two X-Box games, several DVD players, a golf bag, a 42-inch flat-screen TV, a video camera, an alarm clock and a laptop computer.

Here is a list of what police seized:

Continue reading "City cops bust alleged twin burglars" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:57 AM | | Comments (15)

March 4, 2010

Records: Woman was bound, shot, left for dead in drug dispute

[UPDATE: Here's the story that appeared in today's paper. A total of four people have been arrested and charged in connection with this crime.]

Court records show that a 19-year-old woman found Sunday shot, stabbed and bound with tape had been tortured for hours and left for dead in the flooded basement of a vacant house in East Baltimore. Law enforcement sources say the incident stemmed from a drug dispute.

Torrence Jerome White, 23, has been charged with 19 counts, including attempted first-degree murder. The victim, identified as Deyonna N. Charles, was found Feb. 28 by a good samaritan, walking in the 1500 block of N. Patterson Park Ave. with her hands bound with tape and suffering from gunshot wounds to her face and neck and stab wounds to her body. Records show that the abductors ordered Charles to make phone calls to round up ransom money.

Police say Charles was at the Executive Inn in the 3600 block of Pulaski Highway when she left her room to get a soda. While returning to the room, a man armed with a handgun approached and ordered her into a waiting vehicle that had a number of people inside.

Continue reading "Records: Woman was bound, shot, left for dead in drug dispute" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:46 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: East Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

February 26, 2010

Liquor board shuts Fells Points bar

Just as Baltimore's liquor board was hearing testimony about a troulbed Fells Point bar, a city police major handed the chairman a letter asking members to suspend the liquor license of another establishment -- a nightclub on Redwood Street.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III then held a news conference where he told how promoters at the Velvet Rope oversold a concert to Yo Gotti Wednesday night and that up to 300 angry ticket-holding patrons stormed the front door. It took 50 cops to quell the disturbance. The board will schedule a hearing but cannot pull the license beforehand.

Meanwhile, the board dealt with another troublespot -- Chubbies -- which got its license yanked for a year for serving alcohol after hours and for not closing at its designated time, 1 a.m. Community residents have been up in arms over the Eastern Avenue club for quite some time.

The Sun's Brent Jones covered the hearing and wrote (here is a longer version of his story):

About a dozen community members attended the revocation hearing. Victor T. Corbin, president of Fells Prospect Community Association, testified that residents have repeatedly complained about late-night parties at the club, including one on the Fourth of July last year.

A city police officer testified that he responded to a call for loud noise at Chubbies in the early morning of July 5 and found customers drinking after hours.

"We would have preferred to have it revoked, but considering the circumstances and how long of a fight we've had, this is better than what we've had in the past," Corbin said. "Maybe [the owner] will decide to relocate and say this is not worth doing business."

[Baltimore Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum]

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, Downtown, Southeast Baltimore, Top brass

February 24, 2010

Tactical raids common in area

Heavily armed tactical police in Prince George's County raid more homes than any other law enforcement agency in the state, according to newly released data from the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

In the last six months of 2009, police there conducted 195 tactical entries, 105 involving crime deemed nonserious felonies and misdemeanors. That's compared with 84 such raids in Baltimore (at left, a scene from a barricade in East Baltimore in 2007) over the same time period, 63 in Baltimore County, 16 in Harford, 22 in Carroll and 27 in Howard.

Lawmakers in Annapolis required police accross Maryland to submit the data after a mayor of Berwyn Heights was hancuffed by sheriffs deputies who burst into his home with automatic weapons and shot his two dogs. Drug dealers had sent packages of marijuana to unsuspecting homeowners and waited until postal carriers left them on front porches, with the hopes of intercepting them before the owners came home. Police had intercepted the package sent to Mayor Cheye Calvo's house and suspected he was the actual recipient. He was cleared of any wrongdoing.

But police agencies steadfastly stood by their tactics. Calvo has sued Prince George's County, arguing that police there routinely use SWAT team tactics on even the most routine of raids, and that the raid on his house could've been avoided with a little prior investigation. Calvo told me he believes the numbers given to the state back his claim.

Unfortunately all we have are spreadsheets. There is no narrative, so what we don't know is even on routine raids whether police believe the targets had guns. For those interested in revewing some of the raw data:

Baltimore City; Baltimore County; Anne Arundel County; Howard County; Prince George's County

A Prince George's County police spokeswoman told me that even in cases where minor crimes are alleged, most are for drugs, and police assume there are weapons. That makes a tactical entry necessary.

But the argument still is that police, since the Sept. 11 attacks, have armed themselves like never before and are increasingly using military-style tactics that amount to paramilitary like operations to arrest people wanted on crimes that involve small amounts of drugs. Calvo said police last year raided a house in his neighborhood looking for someone wanted for writing bad checks.

The statistics compiled on police raids give a broad picture of how the tactic is used in Maryland. Of the 806 raids conducted in the six-month period, more than 94 percent stemmed from search or arrest warrants. Most of the others came as the result of a barricade situation.

Police forced their way into 545 houses, seized property in 633 of the raids, made arrests 485 times and discharged their weapons five times. In the six months studied, seven civilians were hurt but none killed, and two animals were injured and two killed.

Baltimore police listed raid sites by ZIP code, with the most, 22, in Northwest Baltimore, followed by 14 in parts of East and Northeast Baltimore. There were nine in Waverly, four in Govans and five in Highlandtown.

In Baltimore County, police conducted the most raids in Halethorpe (nine), Dundalk (eight) and seven each in Essex and Middle River. Howard County police conducted the most raids in Columbia, 13. Anne Arundel County authorities performed the most raids in Glen Burnie, 20, with eight in Brooklyn Park and six in Laurel.

February 19, 2010

Slew of homicide arrests, including killing in argument over Facebook

After a slow start to the year, homicide detectives in recent days have made arrests in a slew of cases, new and old. Here's the skinny on some of them:

Harold Montaize Alford, 22: Alford is charged in the Feb. 17 murder of Adam Couther, 27, who was stabbed while trying to break up an argument between Alford and his aunt over her friends on Facebook, police say. According to charging documents, when police responded to the scene in the 700 block of N. Lakewood Ave., they found Alford holding a blue towel on Couther's neck in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Alford and Teresa Begett were both covered in blood, and Alford was "shaking uncontrollably," Detective Michael Moran wrote in charging documents.

Begett had returned from work and was sleeping on her sofa when Alford called her on her cell phone at about 2 a.m. and started arguing with her about a male friend on her Facebook page, Moran wrote. Begett hung up on Alford and moments later he showed up at her home and entered using a key. He began assaulting her, at one point wrapping his hands around her face and "smothering" her, records show. The argument subsided, but he later attacked her again, banging her head into the wall, police said.

Begett's nephew, Couther, came down stairs and pushed Alford off of her and helped his aunt to her feet. That's when Couther and Alford began fighting, and Begett held Couther back, police said. She told police that she felt Alford reach towards Couther, and then "felt a warm liquid running down the front of her," according to charging documents.

"Ms. Begett noticed it was blood and looked up at her nephew, Mr. Couther, and noticed a large laceration to his neck which was bleeding profusely," Moran wrote. "Ms. Begett then looked at Mr. Alford, who dropped a red bottle opener with a knife attachment to the ground and [Begett] stated 'What did you do.'"

"My life is gone," Alford said, according to charging documents. "But he was attacking me, he was attacking me."

Alford denied assaulting Begett and said he "saw a red and silver object going through the air" before Couther began bleeding. He said he did not know how Couther was cut and said neither he nor Begett were responsible.

Electronic court records suggest this is Alford's first criminal arrest. He is being held without bond. His court documents stipulate the following restrictions, and I've never before seen something in official court records with so many exclamation points: "HAVE NO CONTACT W/ TERESA BEGETT PENDING TRIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" That's 37 exclamation points.

Continue reading "Slew of homicide arrests, including killing in argument over Facebook" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:34 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: East Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore

February 17, 2010

Canton rape suspect linked by DNA to fourth attack

A 19-year-old Baltimore man, charged with raping a Canton woman after shoveling her snow in December as well as two attacks in rural Virginia, has been linked through DNA to a fourth rape that occurred in Canton in 2007.

Donald Vaughan was arrested Dec. 21 and accused of raping and slashing the throat of a Canton woman who had paid him to shovel her front sidewalk. It later emerged that Vaughan had been under juvenile supervision in Kilmarnock, Va., where he was under surveillance as a suspect in two rapes there.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Virginia authorities, who assumed responsibility for Vaughan's supervision under interstate agreements, had not notified Maryland officials that Vaughan was returning or that he was a rape suspect. The 2009 Canton attack occurred during a return to Baltimore for the holidays.

Now city police have charged Vaughan in a fourth attack, which court records say occurred Jan 1, 2007, in the 2700 block of Dillon St. The crime follows a pattern of break-ins and attacks that Vaughan has been accused of since a young age.

Here's a link to what appears to be Vaughan's Myspace page.

February 1, 2010

New major in charge of Southeast District

I reported this via Twitter on Friday, but it merits a mention here as well. William Davis, who has been acting major of the Southeast District since mid-October, has been officially given the title permanently. This district includes Fells Point, Canton, Little Italy, McElderry Park, Greektown and Highlandtown. You may remember that Davis took over the position when then-Maj. Roger Bergeron was suspended amid a probe of his office computer, and Bergeron eventually accepted a demotion and a transfer to the Western District. 

Davis was "Johnny on the spot" since taking over, community leader Melissa Techentin told me, and I personally bumped him several times at community meetings or on the streets. I was with friends at a bar in the Fells Point area when we saw flashing police lights, and I ran outside and there was Davis, helping officers with a traffic stop. Another time, when British journalist Mark Hughes visited the city, we went to a shooting scene and saw Davis. But there were also whispers that Southwest District Maj. Tony Brown was being considered.

Officers with long memories have been quick to remind me of a scandal from 14 years ago involving Davis and Orioles tickets that was covered by the CityPaper years later when Davis received a promotion from then-Commissioner Edward T. Norris (UPDATE: The Sun reported about the incident at the time, but Davis' name didn't come out). While Davis is now among the top ranks of the department, one of the others officers involved in the incident, Gerald Tarud, left the department and is now a defense attorney. You'll note that one of the other officers singled out in that article, Deborah Owens, is now deputy commissioner, and the officer who filed a discrimination complaint against her, Johnny Delgado, is now major of the Northwest District.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:47 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Southeast Baltimore, Top brass
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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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