November 29, 2011

Two arrests in recent city killings

A 21-year-old man has been arrested and charged in the Nov. 11 killing of a woman found shot to death inside her Northeast Baltimore home, police confirmed.

Darnell Kinlaw was being held without bond in the shooting death of Lakeisha Player, who was killed in her home in the 2600 block of Kentucky Avenue. In addition to murder and assault charges, Kinlaw, of the 5100 block of Harford Rd., is charged with car theft and theft less than $100, indicating there is a robbery aspect to the case. Police said the killing was domestic-related, but they declined to elaborate.

Kinlaw has two prior convictions related to car theft charges, court records show. 

Here's what a friend told me about Player earlier this month:

"She was a beautiful young woman full of life and love. She was born and raised in Baltimore City. A wonderful mother of two young children that she loved dearly and do anything for. She was working very hard to give her children more than they would imagine. There were her life she adored them. She will be sadly missed but not forgotten at all."

Police also said they had made an arrest in the Nov. 22 shooting death of 25-year-old Tavon Toney, who was fatally shot while walking in the 900 block of W. Franklin St. at about 7:45 a.m. Jerome Burgess Jr., 19, of the 2600 block of Springhill Ave., was arrested later that day, police said, though the arrest was not initially disclosed. He is charged with attempted first degree murder; a police spokesman was unable to explain the discrepency.

The arrest is the fifth time Burgess has been arrested and charged in a crime this year by city police, including prior cases of drugs, theft and robbery. 

Unsolved is the Nov. 14 shooting death of Steven Pennington, 32, of the 1900 block of Walbrook Ave. Pennington was shot at about 9:30 a.m. while walking in the 1700 block of Moreland Ave. in West Baltimore, police said. A gunman approached him and shot him multiple times before fleeing. A motive is unknown.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Northeast Baltimore, West Baltimore

November 21, 2011

Baltimore police investigate morning shooting in West Baltimore; body found in World Trade Center

[UPDATE: Maryland Transportation Authority police said there is no foul play suspected in the death at the World Trade Center building. A 57-year-old man was found dead in one of the floors leased by a private company. A spokesman said: "As far as we're concerned, this is an unattended death."]

An adult male was shot this morning in West Baltimore's Harlem Park neighborhood. Police had few details; the shooting occurred about 7:45 a.m., and it was unclear whether it was inside a residence or on the street

City police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the victim was shot in the head in the 900 block of West Franklin St. and while the man's condition was not clear, he said that homicide detectives had been notified.

City police officers were also at the scene this morning investigating the suspicious death of a man whose body was found inside the World Trade Center at the Inner Harbor. Guglielmi said the man was found unresponsive.

No other details were immediately available. The 27-story building contains offices and a Top-of-the-World observatory for tourists. Police did not say on which floor the body was found.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:18 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: West Baltimore

November 18, 2011

Man complains about drug raid, but police say there's more to the story

A West Baltimore man complained to a television station last night that police wrongly raided his house looking for drugs, but police say there's more to the story.

Arnold Armstrong told WBAL he was sitting in his home Wednesday night in the 1800 block of Wilkens Ave. watching TV when police kicked in his door, handcuffed two of his friends and searched his home. He demanded an apology from the city.

"[An officer] said, 'This is a search and seizure warrant for possession of drugs and weapons.' I said, 'Well, I believe you have the wrong house.' He said, 'No, we have the right house,'" Armstrong told the station. "One kept insisting that there were weapons still in the house, but they still left. My question was, if you believe that there's something still in this house, why are you leaving?"

But Anthony Guglielmi, a city police spokesman, said that officers had made an undercover drug purchase inside the house last week, and after raiding the home said Armstrong "admitted to getting high from time to time, and that he lets people use his house while he's at work." Guglielmi confirmed that police found no drugs during the raid, but he said police suspect that the people using the house during the day were using the house to sell drugs.

Asked why police knocked down the front door, Guglielmi said police first knocked on the door and heard people running around inside. He said the officers believe that the men were destroying evidence or arming themselves. "There is a documented drug buy at this location, and the homeowner admits that he sometimes uses illegal narcotics," Guglielmi said. "Therefore, this was an authorized police raid with a warrant signed by a judge."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:26 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: West Baltimore

November 12, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 11, 2011

Girl, 12, reports being sexually assaulted at city school

A 12-year-old girl at a Baltimore middle school has reported that a teenage boy sexually assaulted her in a classroom last month, according to city police. The story was first reported on Fox-45 TV.

Police said the girl told detectives that she was attacked about 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 4 inside Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School, but did not report the incident to police until two weeks later. The school is located in the 1400 block of West Lafayette Ave. in Sandtown-Winchester.

Det. Jeremy Silbert, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, said the case is under investigation and no charges have been filed against the 13-year-old suspect. He said detectives are trying to determine whether the girl was raped or sexually assaulted.

The mother told television news stations that she was upset that the boy remains in school; officials said the investigation is ongoing. "I had to remove my daughter from out of class, and he can walk around the school Scott free," the mother told WBAL-TV.

Meanwhile, the school system has installed metal detectors at Baltimore Civitas School after a stabbing a week ago, WBAL radio reports. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:50 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Schools, West Baltimore

November 8, 2011

City officer on drug stop dragged by vehicle, fires two rounds

A city police officer trying to make a drug stop in West Baltimore was dragged nearly two city blocks by a vehicle this morning, according to a department spokesman. Police said the officer fired two rounds from his gun, but does not believe he hit anyone.

The incident occurred about 9 a.m. at North Monroe Street and Penrose Avenue. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the officer, a member of the Violent Crime Impact Division, was investigating reports of drug activity and approached a gold or light colored Ford pickup truck.

The officer apparently reached into the vehicle and "the driver fled," Guglielmi said, "and dragged the officer to the 1800 block of West Lexington Street." He said the officer fired twice from his 9mm handgun and fell from the vehicle.

The officer is being treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Police are looking for the pickup truck but had few other descriptive details and no license plate number. It was occupied by a white male driver and white female passenger.


Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:19 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

November 7, 2011

14-year-old charged as adult with shooting two

A 14-year-old West Baltimore boy has been charged as an adult in a double-shooting that occurred last week on Edmondson Avenue, records show.

Nefatea Hector - who stands just 5 feet 4 inches tall, according to court records - faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder and was being held without bond after being arrested Nov. 4.

The shooting occurred Nov. 2 at about 5:15 p.m. Police found Joseph Esdelle, 20, lying in the street suffering a gunshot wound to his head, and later located a second victim - Anthony Samuel Johnson, 24 - at Bon Secours Hospital suffering from a gunshot wound to his right thigh and left ankle, according to charging documents.

Witnesses told detectives that Esdelle was in the 2800 block of Edmondson Ave., breaking up a fight between two women, charging documents show. Police say Hector walked up to Esdelle and pulled out a handgun, firing four shots and shooting Esdelle in the face. Johnson was also struck, apparently by stray bullets.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:40 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: West Baltimore

Man charged in quadruple shooting outside W. Baltimore after hours club

Police have charged a 19-year-old man in a quadruple shooting that occurred before dawn Sunday morningoutside a West Baltimore after-hours club.

The incident - initially reported as a double-shooting - occurred at about 5:30 a.m. as private security was clearing people out following a fight at an after hours club called "Rasta's" in the 2100 block of W. North Ave., according to police. Police said a gunman opened fire, striking three people, at least two of whom were employees of the club. A fourth victim was later identified after walking into a Baltimore County hospital for treatment.

Police spokesman Det. Jeremy Silbert said detectives this morning charged Karon Darren Shaw, of the 1600 block of Moreland Ave., with attempted murder.

Court records show Shaw has two prior arrests on his criminal record, both in the past month and for minor offenses - drug possession and gambling.

I've got a call in to the liquor board to find out more about Rasta's. There are several clubs in the city licensed to host after-hours parties, but others that operate illegally.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

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 31, 2011

City police arrest suspect in rape of girl in van

A man released from prison in September and put on a watch list of the state’s most violent offenders has been arrested in the rape of a 14-year-old girl who police said was lured into a van in West Baltimore and attacked by five men.

The suspect, 22-year-old Lucky Christopher Crosby Jr., was wearing a state prison-issued GPS monitor on his ankle when he was arrested this weekend, allowing police pinpoint his precise movements when the girl said she was attacked on Oct. 23.

According to police charging documents, detectives determined the suspect was in the back of his own home “during the time that the incident would have occurred” and was “stationary for over 20 minutes.” Crosby lives in the 1500 block of Leslie St. in Sandtown-Winchester, the same block on which police said the attack occurred.

Detectives are still searching for four other suspects and declined to comment on the case until more arrests are made. A District Court judge ordered Crosby held without bail on Monday. He is charged with 28 criminal counts, including charges of rape, handgun possession, false imprisonment, sex offenses and assault. The suspect does not yet have an attorney and relatives could not be reached for comment.

For more information on this case:

Continue reading "City police arrest suspect in rape of girl in van" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 4:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

Police arrest 21-year-old in killing of 53-year-old man

City police say they have made an arrest in the killing last week of a 53-year-old man, and officials also identified an 18-year-old man who was fatally shot in Southwest Baltimore.

Leroy Smith, 21, of the 1200 block of W. Mosher St., has been charged in the fatal stabbing of 53-year-old Eddie Nance, who was killed early Friday in the 600 block of George St., police said.

Nance was drinking with two friends in an apartment when two people, who were known to them, came over, police said. An argument over drugs broke out, which escalated to a fight, police said. One of the men began choking Nance, and the other went into the kitchen and retrieved a knife. Nance was stabbed in the chest. 

The stabbing occurred in the Heritage Crossing development, a neighborhood of green lawns and tidy brick homes that took the place of the notorious Murphy Homes towers. 

Smith was picked up Oct. 29 and is being held without bond. His prior record consists of several pending drug cases and an assault conspiracy charge for which he was sentenced to five years in prison with four years and six months suspended. 

Police also identified the 18-year-old shot Thursday night in the 1300 block of Braddish Ave. as Shyekee Wilson, of the 1900 block of Walbrook Ave. Wilson was found at 10:10 p.m. suffering from apparent gunshot wounds to the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene. The shooting occurred several blocks south of Coppin State University. Police said the case remains open and a motive was not clear.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:01 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Southwest Baltimore, West Baltimore

October 26, 2011

City police seek suspects in rape of 14-year-old girl

Police are asking for help in identifying a suspect who raped a 14-year-old girl in West Baltimore. Authorities said the attack occurred Sunday afternoon in the 1500 block of Leslie St. in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood.

In a statement issued Wednesday, city police said the girl asked for directions from people in a passing van, who offered her a ride. Police said she was assaulted in the van, described as brown and tan, with thin white swirl lines along the side.

Police released this photo of a similar van, which has two rear doors and two passenger-side doors, and curtains covering the side and back windows, along with a rear tire cover. Anyone who sees the van is urged to call police at 1-888-7LOCKUP.

Earlier this month, a 13-year-old girl was grabbed and raped in a vacant East Baltimore house. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

October 21, 2011

Final two suspects in Gilmor Homes drug network plead guilty

The final two suspects -- out of 22 -- have pleaded guilty to selling cocaine in West Baltimore's Gilmor Homes public housing project. The Sun's Justin Fenton noted on Twitter that three generations of the same family are now behind bars.

The Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office announced the pleas of the father-son team on Friday. Dione Fauntleroy Jr., also known as "Sticks" and "Dummy," will be sentenced to 13 years in prison as part of his agreement. His father, Dione Fauntleroy Sr, known as "Big Man," will also be sent away for 13 years.

Prosecutors said the two men and the other defendants -- all sentenced to three to 13 years in prison -- sold drugs from the housing project between January 2009 and June 2010. Prosecutors described Fauntleroy Jr. as the leader.

Justin wrote last year that one of the suspects convicted earlier in the case had been featured in an documentary on the Baraka School, a now disbanded program for at-risk city youth that sent them to Africa.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

October 13, 2011

Former "Baraka Boy" pleads guilty in drug conspiracy

A 13-year-old Romesh Vance (seen at right) sat on a Baltimore carousel eight years ago, spinning slowly as he predicted his future.

"I think all our lives [are] going to be bad now," he said.

The statement was captured on camera by the documentary filmmakers following his journey — and its premature end — at the Baraka boarding school in Kenya, which gave a handful of disadvantaged city boys the chance to study in Africa. The school was unexpectedly closed in 2003.

On Wednesday, a 21-year-old Vance pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to participating in a drug conspiracy involving nearly two dozen people who allegedly sold cocaine and crack out of the Gilmor Homes public housing complex, The Sun's Tricia Bishop reports.

He faces a minimum of five years in prison at his sentencing, set for Feb. 22.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

October 3, 2011

Man, 32, fatally shot in Upton

A 32-year-old man was found fatally shot early Monday in the Central District's Upton neighborhood, police said.

An officer on routine patrol saw a man lying in the middle of the 500 block of McMechen St at about 12:25 a.m., police said. The man, later identified as that of Anton Ingram, was transported to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead at 3:18 a.m.

Ingram had been shot in the back, and police said they had received no calls to 911 reporting a shooting even though detectives believe that's where the incident occurred.

At right is a picture of Ingram, taken from his Facebook page. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:46 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: West Baltimore

September 28, 2011

Man killed in Mt Holly

A man died early Wednesday morning after he was shot in Baltimore's Mount Holly neighborhood, according to city police spokesman Detective Kevin Brown.

According to Brown, police officers responded at 12:55 a.m. to a report of a shooting in the 2200 block of Garrison Boulevard. Police found a 45-year-old man lying on the sidewalk, suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.

Emergency workers transported the man to Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:55 a.m., Brown said.

Brown said officers have not released information about the man's name or address, pending notification of next of kin.

-Staff report

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

August 23, 2011

Two shot in Baltimore amid earthquake, aftermath

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

August 4, 2011

Police say man arrested with loaded assault rifle

Baltimore police just announced this arrest in a gun case:

"Working on intelligence that an armed individual was selling guns in west Baltimore, detectives with the Baltimore Police Violent Crime Impact Section conducted an investigation in the area of 2300 Eutaw Place and arrested a man with a loaded assault riffle equipped with a suppressor and pistol grip.

Suspect Evan Jackson (B/M - 5/4/87, photo attached) was arrested last night around 6pm and charged with firearm violations. He was taken into custody after leading detectives on a brief foot pursuit. Jackson is known to police and has prior gun arrests from 2005 and 2008."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:51 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: West Baltimore

City police investigate shootings

In addition to the 91-year-old woman who stabbed to death in her Northeast Baltimore house Wednesday evening, city police are investigating several shootings.

The latest shooting occurred this morning at Monastery and Frederick avenues in Southwest Baltimore. Police said an adult male was shot in the side. Shorlty after midnight, an adult male was shot multiple times in the 2300 block Allendale Road in Northwest Baltimore.

About 10 p.m., police reported a man shot in the back in the 1700 block of Presstman St., in West Baltimore. in Sandtown-Winchester.

Details were slim on these cases this morning. We'll have more as information develops.

August 2, 2011

City police officer shoots armed man, authorities say

A city police officer shot and wounded a man who authorities say was armed with a handgun early today in the 3900 block of Carlisle AVe., in Northwest Baltimore's Windsor Hills neighborhood. It's located west of Lake Ashburton.

Details are still coming in, but police said in a statement that the officer approached "an individual armed with a handgun. The officer fired at least one round and the suspect is struck at least once."

Police described the wounded man an adult who was taken to an area hospital where he was in critical and stable condition. Police said the officer was not hurt and the handgun was found at the scene. A news conference has tentatively been scheduled for later this morning. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:12 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Northwest Baltimore, Police shootings, West Baltimore

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 20, 2011

Stabbings continue to rise; man killed in West Baltimore

A man who was stabbed Tuesday afternoon in West Baltimore near Harlem Park died from his injuries, police said.

Police were called to the 800 block of N. Gilmor St. at about 4:30 p.m. and found medics working on the victim in the middle of the street. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead at about 5:20 p.m. Additional details, including his identity, weren't immediately available.

The killing is the 25th fatal stabbing this year in Baltimore, surpassing the total stabbing deaths in all of last year when 24 people were killed by knives or sharp objects, according to police records. Overall shootings - including non-fatal shootings - are up for the year, and the Police Department does not keep statistics on non-fatal stabbings, so it's hard to pinpoint whether this is a genuine trend of knives becoming more prevalent. 

Overall homicides are up, with 116 people killed as of yesterday compared with 110 at the same time last year. Among them: one undisclosed homicide, the fatal shooting of Omar Richardson on July 14 in the 2100 block of Homewood Ave. Police reported the shooting, but it was not known until today that he had died. Richardson celebrated his 24th birthday a day earlier.

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

July 15, 2011

Carjacking victim speaks out

"I thought, 'We're going to die either way.'"

These are the words of Elsya, the 24-year-old mother who along with her 20-month-old son was carjacked from a West Baltimore gas station (video above) Wednesday night. She managed to escape with her child Julius by jumping from the moving car during a police chase on the Washington Beltway.

Thursday night, she spoke with reporter Steve Kilar:

“I don’t know what his motive was,” Elsya said. The rest of the incident, she said, is a blur.

After shoving the woman into the backseat, he sped off, she said.

She remembers him breaking the driver’s side window with his elbow. He wagged his tongue at her and muttered “nasty stuff,” she said. She said he threatened to kill her when he realized she had a cellphone, which he threw out the window.

Finally, on the Beltway near Rockville, police said, the driver slowed and the 24-year-old woman seized the opportunity. She opened the door and jumped onto the pavement, her toddler firmly in her arms.

“I thought I was going to suffocate him, as tight as I was holding him,” said Elsya.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:26 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Crime elsewhere, West Baltimore

July 14, 2011

Man dies two days after West Baltimore shooting

A 30-year-old man who was found shot in a West Baltimore alley on Tuesday has died from his injuries, police say.

Officers were dispatched at about 10:10 p.m. for a report of a serious shooting in the 1800 block of N. Pulaski St., near North Avenue, and found Jawan Vonel Weeden suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, police said. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where police were notified today that he died of his injuries.

Police said they had no additional information about the case, which remains open. Anyone with information was asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.

Weeden's death marks the 110th person killed in Baltimore this year, compared with 109 at this time last year.

Weeden could have been in prison at the time the shooting occurred, having been sentenced to five years in prison in mid-May for a violation of his probation on a drug distribution charge. But four years, 11 months and 26 days of the sentence were suspended, and he was placed on three years supervised probation - the same punishment as his original sentence. He was hit with a new violation on July 6, court records show, which had yet to be heard.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:35 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: West Baltimore

Woman, toddler carjacked; victim jumps from car on Beltway to escape

A parent's worst nightmare -- a woman carjacked with her and her toddler still inside.

Maryland State Police said a man forced his way into an occupied vehicle on Edmondson Avenue Wednesday night and sped off, with the terrified woman holding her 20-month-old child. The man sped south on I-95 and sideswiped a state trooper, triggering a chase that led to the Washington Beltway at speeds exceeding 100 mph.

The driver sped up and slowed down during the pursuit, and near the Cabin John Parkway in Rockville, police said the vehicle slowed to about 20 mph, and the victim was able to escape and roll out onto the road.

Police quickly stopped the car and arrested a suspect. More details from Maryland State Police:

Continue reading "Woman, toddler carjacked; victim jumps from car on Beltway to escape" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

July 8, 2011

Man charged in West Baltimore killing

Court records show a 26-year-old Baltimore man has been charged in the killing of a 29-year-old man who died two weeks after being shot in West Baltimore.

Frederick Williams, of the 600 block of S. Beechfield Ave., was charged with first- and second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Sterling Kelly in the 3700 block of Harlem Ave. Kelly was shot on June 21 and died July 5; police charged Williams two days later. 

He is being held without bond. Charging documents, which would provide details on how detectives were led to Williams, were not immediately available. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

June 30, 2011

Retiring after 50 years in the Western


He spent a half century in the Western, patrolling what in his later years would be some of the most dangerous city streets. John McAndrew Sr. finally surrendered his gun, cuffs and uniform and retired on Wednesday.

He got to keep his badge -- only the third in the history of the Baltimore Police Department to be permanently retired. The 72-year-old served under 13 police commissioners and made it through the riots of the 1960s. He got his picture in the paper once -- a failed attempt at rescuing a dog from a rooftop.

"The role of this man in Baltimore has changed people's lives," Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III told dozens gathered at his retirement ceremony in the atrium at the police headquarters building.

Read Sun reporter Julie Baughman's account of McAndrew's final day.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

June 29, 2011

Man's shooting marks 100 murders in Baltimore

A 24-year-old man died after he was shot in the torso in West Baltimore late Tuesday night, according to Baltimore Police, who also identified a delivery driver killed during an afternoon robbery.

The unidentified man is the 100th person killed in Baltimore this year, two more than this time last year.

Police said they had limited information about the shooting, which was reported at 11:52 p.m. in the 500 block of Mosher Street, in the Upton community.

The victim was pronounced dead at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, according to police.

Each of this year's killings, as well as prior years going back to 2007, are mapped here, along with charts breaking them down by month and police district.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:52 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: West Baltimore

June 15, 2011

Woman gets 23 years in prison for attacks at clubs

A 30-year-old woman was sentenced today in Baltimore Circuit Court to 23 years in prison for attacking three women during altercations at West Baltimore clubs. The attacks left the victims with severe injuries.

The sentence came after Tiffany Williams had pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree assault. Judge Lynn K. Stewart ruled that the defendant’s pleas meant she had violated the probation she was serving for an earlier narcotics conviction.

More details on the case from The Sun's Nick Madigan:

Continue reading "Woman gets 23 years in prison for attacks at clubs" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 5:46 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, West Baltimore

June 6, 2011

On the beat with city cops


In case you missed it over the weekend, Friday was community policing day for the Baltimore Police Department. Residents got a chance to ride with cops throughout the city, as well as meet the commanders at an open house.

The Sun's Nick Madigan and photographer Gene Sweeney Jr. went along for the ride (read full story here):

Two years ago, John T. Bullock was walking his dog near his home on Baltimore's West Lafayette Avenue when three pit bulls escaped from a nearby yard, charged over to Bullock and his dog and attacked them both.

"The police showed up right away and took care of it," Bullock recalled. "One officer even came to the emergency room — I was having my hands stitched up — to ask me how I was doing. He followed up."

Carrollton Bullock, 32, an assistant professor in political science at Towson University, was impressed — and he wanted to know more about how the police do their jobs and how to establish a working relationship with the officers in his neighborhood.

Bullock was one of hundreds of people who took advantage Friday of the Baltimore Police Department's Community Partnership program, which gave citizens the opportunity to ride along with officers on their rounds, sit in on roll calls and briefings, and challenge commanders with questions in face-to-face meetings.

"That's something people in the community say they want — more interaction with the police," Bullock said from the passenger seat of a Ford Explorer patrol vehicle as a 30-year veteran of the force.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, Top brass, West Baltimore

May 26, 2011

Nursing home chef among city murder victims identified

A man found fatally shot in a vacant lot in West Baltimore early Wednesday was identified as a 39 33-year-old who worked as a chef at a nursing home.

Donte James Larkins (seen at right in a picture from his Facebook page) was found early Wednesday morning in the 1500 block of N. Monroe St. Larkins, whose last known address was in the 1500 block of Clifton Ave., was pronounced dead at the scene.

A police spokesman said two men were observed running from the scene, but a motive was unknown. According to his Facebook page, Larkins was a chef at a Baltimore County nursing home. Company officials could not immediately confirm that information.

Just hours prior to his death, he wrote on his wall, "Its going to be hard to be with out them.. May [sic] tears of lonelyness [sic]." Friends were shocked that those were his last words. "This was his last post and now he's gone????this is crazy," one woman wrote. 

Police also identified a man who was fatally stabbed last week – also in the Sandtown Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore – as 50-year-old Jalil Malik al-Salim. Al-Salim, whose last known address was in the 4600 block of Talman Rd. in Randallstown, was found in a yard in the 1600 block of N. Fulton Ave. suffering from stab wounds.

Police said both cases remain open, and neither victim had a current criminal record.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:31 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: West Baltimore

May 19, 2011

Police report several shootings in city; one fatal

A man was shot at least once during a confrontation on Wednesday afternoon at the Westside Shopping Center in Southwest Baltimore. The shooting, in the 2400 block of Frederick Ave., is being investigated by homicide detectives.

The victim was in critical condition this morning. Another man was shot in the 700 block of West Lanvale St. shortly after 9 p.m., and an adult female was shot shortly after midnight in the 3800 block of Reisterstown Road.

A man shot overnight at Park Heights and Spaulding avenues in Northwest Baltimore died from his injuries. No other details have been made available, but we'll update these as the day progresses. Map the city's homicides on our crime map.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:05 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Northwest Baltimore, Southwest Baltimore, West Baltimore

May 16, 2011

Two more shot in Baltimore

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

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

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

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

May 13, 2011

Two shot near re-dedicated memorial to slain girl

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

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

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

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

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

May 10, 2011

In West Baltimore, renewed commitment to memory of slain 6-year-old

It took an act of God, some wayward city snow plows and a few diligent neighbors to get Tiffany Square back on track.

Since the West Baltimore memorial was created in 1991 to honor the memory of a 6-year-old killed by an errant bullet, time had given way to neglect, and the drug dealers had returned. Then, plows clearing last year’s double-dose of heavy snowfall inadvertently crumbled the colorful but fading retaining walls.

For Mable Gordon (above, holding photo) and other residents, enough was enough. After months of hounding city agencies, they got the help they needed to repair the memorial spot, and on Tuesday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was on hand for a “re-dedication” celebration. 

“This means a lot to my family – it lets us know that what happened to my daughter wasn’t in vain,” said Tiffany Smith’s father, Troy. “What happened to her brought a community together.”

Continue reading "In West Baltimore, renewed commitment to memory of slain 6-year-old" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

May 9, 2011

Providing alternative for kids in West Baltimore

[Photo credit - Amy Davis, The Sun]

James Mosher Baseball, Maryland's oldest continuously operating league for African-American children, started in 1960 to keep kids occupied in the summer. But after decades of play, its fields need help and the group is looking to to refurbish them so it can continue to provide alternatives in an area described by the city police commissioner as a "hotbed" for gang activity, reports The Sun's Liz F. Kay.

The group has raised two-thirds of the $120,000 needed for the project, which would add irrigation, renovate the two diamonds and replace the bleachers, as well as aerate and treat the outfield areas.

"We wanted to be able to provide players with a field where it can be as true to baseball as possible," said Reginald Exum, James Mosher's special projects coordinator.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. said the neighborhood has been "like a hotbed of gang activity" for the past few years. "Unfortunately some young men over there are bent on destroying each other," Bealefeld said.

But Mosher baseball "is probably the biggest effort in trying to provide an alternative for young boys and even some young girls on those teams in that community," he said. "It's huge what they do."

Bealefeld praised the volunteers who provide "real mentoring" to players. "The James Mosher guys are just heroes," the commissioner said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:15 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Neighborhoods, West Baltimore

May 5, 2011

Man sentenced in double slaying in park

A Baltimore Circuit Court Judge sentenced a 26-year-old man to 45 years in prison for killing two 17-year-olds in a West Baltimore park in 2008. Timonty Crockett shot Darrius Harrison and Djuan Anderson in Easterwood Park.

At the time of the slaying, prosecutors said Crockett was on probation on a drug distribution charge from 2007. He received an additional nine years in prison for violating the terms of his release. Also, Crockett had been released from a federal prison in Illinois just two weeks before the killings. He had been serving time on a gun charge.

Both victims were shot in the head in the 3 a.m. attack. Judgge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill imposed consecutive life sentences for each killing but he suspended all but 45 years. No motive has been revealed in the shootings, but a jury found that the killings had been planned.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:08 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: West Baltimore

May 3, 2011

Suspect sought in 08 double murder

Baltimore police have issued an warrant charging a 22-year-old woman with murder in connection with a double shooting in December 2008. Authorities identified the suspect as Josetta Hill.

"She is known to disguise her identity through the use of fraudulent identification cards," police said in a statment. "Anyone with information as to her whereabouts is urged to contact police by immediately calling 911."

The shooting occurred Dec. 29 in the 800 block of Chauncy Ave., in Reservoir Hill. Antonio Coby, 28, died at a hospital and a female victim died several days later.

They were found about 10:40 p.m. by police responding to a call for a shooting.

The officers were meat the front door by the wounded woman, who then collapsed. The man was found in the kitchen.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:59 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: West Baltimore

April 25, 2011

Teen says officers accused of kidnapping did not beat him

A West Baltimore teenager who says three city police officers kidnapped him and dumped him in a Howard County park with no shoes or cellphone testified that he lied about being beaten up, and denied telling an attorney that he was choked by the officers.

The admission came on the fourth day of testimony in the kidnapping and misconduct trial of Officers Tyrone S. Francis, Gregory Hellen and Milton G. Smith III, who are accused of leaving Michael B. Johnson Jr. in Patapsco Valley State Park on May 4, 2009 after dropping off his friend Shawnquin Woodland in East Baltimore earlier the same day.

When Johnson called 911 from Howard County, he told the dispatcher he had been beaten up, which he testified on Monday was untrue, except for a tap of a nightstick. He also disputed a claim made in a $100 million lawsuit filed by his own civil attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, that Smith put his hands around his neck and choked him.

"No, no sir," Johnson said when asked by defense attorney Kenneth Ravenell if the lawsuit claim was accurate.

Continue reading "Teen says officers accused of kidnapping did not beat him" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:39 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, West Baltimore

Fatal stabbing, more shootings in city over weekend

A 22-year-old man was fatally stabbed as he left a West Baltimore restaurant with a carryout order late Saturday, one of nine shootings and stabbings this weekend that Baltimore Police are investigating.

Tevon Corey Allen walked into Maryland General Hospital just before midnight and was pronounced dead at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, according to police. Based on the investigation, Allen went to a restaurant in the 500 block of N. Pulaski Street, near West Franklin Street. As he left, Allen was approached by two people, one of whom stabbed him. Police have no suspects or motives, a spokesman said.

In addition, a 21-year-old man was shot while playing basketball in the 5200 block of Loch Raven Boulevard Sunday; he was driven to a hospital for treatment at about 1 p.m. A 39-year-old man was also stabbed in the neck in the 1100 block of East Biddle Street at 4:22 p.m. Sunday and was hospitalized, police said.

Police are also investigating the non-fatal shooting of a 41-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman at 8 p.m. Sunday. The two victims were found inside a home in the 2100 block of Cliftwood Avenue, police said. No information about suspects or motive were available.

Baltimore Police spokesman Detective Kevin Brown also identified several victims of recent fatal shootings:

Continue reading "Fatal stabbing, more shootings in city over weekend" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:09 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: West 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

Officers charged with abducting teens say youths made up story

Lawyers for two of three police officers charged with abducting teens and abandoning them in a park without shoes and cell phones are saying the youths mde up the stories to avoid being branded snitches.

That comes from opening statements made by defense attorneys at the trial's opening this morning. A third defense lawyer is set to give his opening remarks later today. Here's a full story on this morning's events.

The case is being prosecuted by State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein, who told the court that the accused officers took the teens because they believed they were “above the law they swore to honor and uphold. The defendants didn’t feel these victims showed an adequate amount of respect."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, West Baltimore

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 15, 2011

Three shot in West Baltimore


[Above, residents wait to return to their homes as police survey a nearby crime scene. Photo by me]

Three people were shot - one who suffered serious injuries - in West Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood Friday afternoon, police said.

At a crime scene that spanned several city blocks of mostly vacant homes, police said at least one gunman opened fire at about 3 p.m. on three males. An adult was struck in the stomach in the 900 block of N. Calhoun St., and a man and a 16-year-old were struck in the face and found in the 1200 block of W. Mosher St.

Police spokesman Det. Jeremy Silbert said the males shot in the face did not appear to have life-threatening injuries, though the man shot in the stomach was taken to a local hospital in serious condition. 

Detectives were interviewing possible witnesses, as groups of residents waited on the steps of vacant homes waiting for the crime scene tape to come down so they could return home. One woman could be overheard saying she saw one of the victims lying in the street and asking a fleeing friend, "How you gonna leave me here, homie?"

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:51 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

April 11, 2011

Police say pair committed 10 robberies Sunday a.m.

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


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

April 6, 2011

Woman fatally shot in Reservoir Hill

Baltimore police are investigating the fatal shooting of a woman early this morning in Reservoir Hill. Few details have been made available of the city's latest slaying, which occurred about 12:15 a.m. in the 600 block of Lennox St.

This comes after a spate of shootings early Tuesday that left two people dead and six others injured, all within an hour. Track Baltimore homicides here

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:21 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: West Baltimore

April 5, 2011

Howard, Arundel jewelry store robberies may be linked to city killing

A jewelry store robbery in Howard County may be linked to others in Baltimore and Annapolis, as well as to the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old who was killed a day after his car was identified as the getaway vehicle in a robbery at the Columbia Mall.

Howard County detectives on Monday arrested three Baltimore men and charged them in an armed robbery last week that netted more than $300,000 in high-end watches. Mall security officers saw the license plate of the getaway car, a Mitsubishi Diamante that was traced to Derek Jones, an aspiring rapper seen at right from this picture on his web site.

But the day after the robbery, Jones was fatally shot in the head as he left a barber shop in West Baltimore in the 1200 block of Winchester St. It was just hours after he had been questioned by county detectives, officials confirmed.

County police announced the robbery arrests Tuesday, but there was no mention in charging documents of Jones beyond describing his vehicle. Sherry Llewellyn, a spokeswoman for the Howard County police, said county detectives had been investigating Jones’ possible involvement in the robbery but said that police were not prepared to charge him at the time of his death.

City homicide detectives were “not prepared to comment” on how the robbery might play into the murder investigation, Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.


Jones was a rapper named “Nu-Boy” and “D. Jones,” and had produced an album in late 2008 that was sold at local Best Buy stores. Street life was prominent in his music – album covers are splashed with images of guns and bullets. A song released last fall featured the chorus, “Air ‘em out” with the sounds of guns firing and the clinking of bullet casings hitting the ground.

But a follow-up album, his site promised, was to be called “American Dream,” and discussed “his emergence from the bitter realities” of life in Baltimore that comprised his first album. “It was his wish to give the world more of himself as a person, and less of the tragic images he experienced day to day living in Baltimore,” it reads.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:57 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Anne Arundel County, Howard County, West Baltimore

Spate of city shootings leaves one dead, six injured

UPDATE: One of the men injured in the Mulberry St. shooting has died, police say. He was identified as Roosevelt Tillman, and court records show he was from the 1500 block of W. Fayette St, where another shooting occurred about 20 minutes later. It was not clear if there was a connection.

Baltimore police are reporting one person dead and six others in injured in a series of shootings scattered across the city. All occurred within one hour early Tuesday.

The Sun's Yeganeh June Torbai reports that the sudden outbreak in violence occurred mostly in Northwest, West and Southwest Baltimore.

Here are some details:

Continue reading "Spate of city shootings leaves one dead, six injured" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:58 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Northwest Baltimore, Southwest Baltimore, West Baltimore

March 29, 2011

Woman fatally stabbed, man dies in morning shooting

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

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

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

Continue reading "Woman fatally stabbed, man dies in morning shooting" »

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

March 19, 2011

Spate of shootings overnight in city

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 18, 2011

Two afternoon shootings on West side

View Larger Map

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

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

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

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

Man shot at city carryout dies

View Larger Map

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

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

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

March 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" »

February 28, 2011

Cops actions could cost city $95,000

A man who said a Baltimore police officer strip searched him on a public street and twice tased him while he was in handcuffs has agreed to settle a civil suit he filed against the city and is being offered $95,000.

The settlement is pending approval by the Board of Estimates, the city’s spending panel, which scheduled the item for Wednesday. Baltimore police and the city solicitor declined to comment. The amount is contained in court records and on the Board of Estimates’ agenda.

Donte T. Harris sued Officer Babatunda Orlsadelle after his arrest in April 2007 while walking to a store on Woodbine Avenue in West Baltimore. He said officers stopped him to look for drugs, but none were found. He was charged with disorderly conduct and disobeying a police officer; prosecutors did not pursue either charge.

Orlsadelle joined the city force in February 2001. A police spokesman, Det. Donny Moses, said Orlsadelle is currently assigned to the Northern District, but has been suspended from duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation since August 2010.

Details of the suit:

Continue reading "Cops actions could cost city $95,000 " »

February 27, 2011

Man, 62, found dead in West Baltimore home

UPDATE: The victim was identified this morning as Edgar Waylan Wilson. Court records indicate he did not have a criminal record.
A 62-year-old man was found stabbed to death Sunday afternoon at his West Baltimore home, a city police spokesman said.

The man, who was not identified, was found about 1:21 p.m. in the 2800 block of Clifton Ave., several blocks west of Coppin State University, said Detective Kevin Brown.

He was found by a relative, police said, who added that there were no suspects or motive in the case. Homicide detectives responded and are investigating.
Twenty five people have been killed in Baltimore in 2011, four of them in the Western District. At this point last year, coming on the heels of two giant snowstorms, there had been 24 killings.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:51 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: West Baltimore

February 22, 2011

Police: Teen was killed over dice game

A 16-year-old boy killed last June in Reservoir Hill was shot by a friend in a dispute over a dice game, police say in charging documents.

Davon Wilkins, 19, was indicted last week on first-degree murder charges in the death of Renardo Broom, who was fatally shot on July 1, 2010. Police say Broom and Wilkins were playing dice with several friends in the 700 block of W. North Ave., and Broom got into a dispute with Wilkins over payment. Wilkins removed a handgun from his waistband and fired the gun one time, striking Broom in the torso, Detective Christopher Brockdorff wrote in charging documents.

Witnesses identified Wilkins through photo lineups. 

Wilkins was arrested on the murder charges on Jan. 19 and was being held without bail. Court records show he was on probation at the time of the shooting, stemming from a January 2010 assault conviction.

Wilkins has a previous charge of attempting to bribe a public employee, which according to court records came when he offered money to an officer who found him with marijuana. "Can you just take the money and let me go? It's just a little weed," he said, according to court records.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:19 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: West Baltimore

February 15, 2011

Police arrest two after carjacking; watch helicopter pursuit

A state worker was carjacked in Northwest Baltimore earlier today, sparking a pursuit using a police helicopter that ended with the arrests of two suspects.

The pursuit went from Baltimore and into the county and then back to Baltimore, and part of it was captured by a news crew for WJZ-TV, which broadcast it live during its 5 p.m. newscast. Here is The Sun's news story and the video from WJZ:

February 13, 2011

Police search for missing elderly man

 UPDATE: Mr. McKinnon has been located unharmed.

Police have put out his alert for a missing man from West Baltimore:

Please be on the lookout for James McKinnon (82 year-old B/M), a missing vulnerable adult.  He was last seen on 2/12/11 at 1500 hrs, leaving his home within the 4600 Blk of Coleherne Road. 

He suffers from Alzheimer’s, but may know hisname, address, and how to use public

He was last seen wearing a black and brownwool hat, black puffy coat, black pants and black new balance tennis shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Missing Person Unit at 443-984-7385 or 911.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

February 9, 2011

Gun seizures, arrests and latest slaying in city

A man was shot and killed Tuesday evening in a drive-by shooting in Northeast Baltimore:

The 21-year-old victim was waiting at a bus stop with a woman on the 6600 block of Alta Ave. near the intersection with Northern Parkway, police said, when a four-door, light-colored vehicle approached and someone inside began firing a gun. Police were called to the scene about 6:30 p.m. and found the man lying in the street. The woman was uninjured.

Meanwhile, city police reported an arrest in another Northeast Baltimore shooting that occurred Monday afternoon. The shooting occurred about 3:15 p.m. in the 2700 block of Polk St., in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood.

Also, Baltimore police over the past two days seized several guns from city streets, part of the commissioner's bad guys with guns campaign:

* A search of a house in the 3100 block of N. Woodington Road turned up a 9mm handgun and led to four arrests by the Southwestern District's drug squad.

* A search warrant served in the 3100 block of Belmont Ave. resulted in the seizure of a 12-gauge shotgun and one arrest by the Violent Crime Impact Division in the Western District.

* Police in the 700 block of Linnard St. in Southwest Baltimore arrested two people and seized a 9mm handgun.

* Another search warrant led police with the Gun Trace Task Force to the 3400 block of Callaway ave., where they seized a 12-gauge pistol-gripped shotgun.

* Police in Northwest Baltimore found four illegal long guns in a house in the 8500 block of Main Ave.

February 4, 2011

Jurors deliberating in burned dog Phoenix case

UPDATE: Juror were unable to reach a verdict Friday and will resume deliberations on Monday.

UPDATE: The Sun's Tricia Bishop reports --The jury deliberating in the animal cruelty trial of Travers and Tremayne Johnson sent a note to the judge Friday morning suggesting that they are having trouble reaching a verdict.

They went at it for nine hours on Thursday, and still jurors couldn't decide on a verdict in the animal cruelty case against brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson. The jury will resume talks this morning.

The 18-year-old twins are charged with setting fire to a pit bull known as "Phoenix" in 2009, in a case that has become the centerpiece in a series of animal abuse cases. Defense attorneys say the teens were wrongly accused by Baltimore police under pressure from outraged animal welfare advocates.

Complete details of Thursday's courtroom drama can be found here. The Sun's court reporter, Tricia Bishop, wrote about Thursday's closings:

Prosecutors had spent the fifth day of trial — highlighting the evidence, while the defense team pointed to the lack of it. Prosecutors Jennifer Rallo and Janet Hankin systematically connected the dots in their circumstantial case and asked the jury to consider the testimony of their key witness, city police Sgt. Jarron Jackson, akin to that of a reporter: someone who watches and interprets information.

A defense attorneys questioned  the timing of her clients on a video and provided a list of 41 things that the police allegedly failed to do in the investigation. They did not preserve the crime scene, she said; they waited a week to assign an investigator; they didn't collect important evidence; and they didn't investigate other suspects.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:27 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Courts and the justice system, West Baltimore

February 1, 2011

Two animal cruelty cases move forward

Even as the trial of the twin teens charged with setting the dog Phoenix on fire moves forward, police announce the arrests of two more teens who they say doused a cat Mittens with lighter fluid and set it ablaze.

These twin cases of animal cruelty are just the latest in Baltimore, and demonstrate another side to the city's violence. The Phoenix (seen at left) case in West Baltimore broke in 2009, and it has lurched forward under pressure from the public and City Hall.

And testimony coming out of Baltimore Circuit Court is not that encouraging. The Sun's Tricia Bishop has written about questionable police actions that have prompted defense attorneys to accuse the cops of negligence.

The officer who was hailed as a hero for putting the fire out had a rough day in court last week. Tricia Bishop wrote that Detective Syreeta Teel "left the sweater, which might have provided traces of accelerant, on the sidewalk." Also, testimony revealed that the scene was never secured, the police crime lab was never called and a treating veterinarian was never interviewed in the arson investigation.

Then, on Tuesday, defense attorneys questioned the motives of a key witness who said she saw the defendants -- Travers and Tremayne Johnson -- running away from the scene. The witness, who is jailed on an unrelated charged, said she came forward for the reward money -- $28,000 put up by hundreds of outraged citizens.

Tricia provided this time-line, taken from video surveillance:

Continue reading "Two animal cruelty cases move forward" »

January 28, 2011

City police announce major gun arrest

Baltimore's police commissioner and mayor are having a news conference (4:15 p.m.) to announce an arrest of a person they call a significant gun criminal. Police in Northwest Baltimore arrested the man, Michael Nichols, 31, Thursday evening.

He's at left in a police mug shot.

According to a police charging document, an officer got a call for an armed man in the 2300 block of Reiserstown Road. The man was wearing an Army camouflage jacket with a hat adorned with snowflakes and had just entered a location with an AK-47.

Police said the man jumped off a back second-floor balcony when the officer arrived but was arrested by a back-up officer. According to the court document, the man admitted that he had two guns in the house and thought the cops were there to arrest him for violating his parole.

Authorities then obtained a search warrant for the residence and confiscated several weapons. They include: a 9mm Luger handgun loaded with nine rounds; a High Point .45 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets; suspected marijuana; and suspected heroin.

The court document also says that the man told police he had a Tech 9 gun hidden in his mother's basement in a tool box on Bentalou Street. Police said they found the gun, loaded with 17 bullets, along with a box containing 28 rounds of ammunition.

At this moment, police and the mayor are giving more details (watch the news conference here). Check back to the Baltimore Sun for a more complete news story.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 4:05 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, Top brass, West Baltimore

January 26, 2011

Records: Slain Block dancer was providing info to police

A woman who was found fatally shot last month near Leakin Park was dealing drugs and providing information to police about three men who detectives believe took her from her home the morning of her death, according to court records.

Baltimore police confirmed Tuesday that they had made an arrest in the death of Cherrie Gammon, a 25-year-old mother and dancer on The Block who was shot multiple times on Dec. 12. Hassan Muhammed, 32, of the 1600 block of Guilford Ave., was arrested and charged with murder on Jan. 17.

Gammon struggled with drugs, and friends and family feared that it had played a role in her death. Court records show that not only was Gammon using drugs, she had begun selling and was providing information to police.

Anthony Guglielmi, the Baltimore Police Department's chief spokesman, said he could not confirm or deny whether Gammon was a police informant.

Witnesses told police that she was selling heroin and crack cocaine for Donte "Tay" Baker, Muhammed, who is known as "Rowland," and a man nicknamed "Miami," records show. The witnesses said the men took her from her home in the early morning hours of Dec. 12 and drove her to the area where she was shot and killed.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 3:12 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Downtown, West Baltimore, Witness intimidation

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 25, 2011

Officer who died in October crash distracted by film crew

Baltimore police have concluded their investigation into the October accident that killed a city police officer whose cruiser slammed into the back of fire engine.

The report concludes that Officer Thomas Portz Jr., 32, was most likely distracted by a film crew using the opposite lanes of U.S. 40 to record the final scene of an independent movie. The report, obtained under a Public Information Act request, says the officer was speeding at 71 mph (in a 50 mph zone) and was not wearing his seat belt.

Photo was taken by The Sun's Barbara Haddock Taylor.

From our news story:

Just before the accident, the city Fire Department received a call for a sick person in the area and firefighters on Engine 8 had stopped in the eastbound lane of U.S. 40, near the Stricker Street footbridge, and were looking for the source of the call.

Portz also was driving east on the U.S. 40, and the report concludes he was probably looking at the film crew and didn’t see the stopped fire engine. Portz was not responding to an emergency call at the time. Police identified the firefighter driving the engine only as a 41-year-old male.

The report says Portz had been speeding at 71 mph — the speed limit is 50 mph on that portion of roadway — but slammed on is brakes 2.5 seconds before impact. Detective Patty A. Baur, a traffic collision reconstruction expert with the police crash team, said in the report that the police car was traveling 62 mph a split-second before impact.
The Baltimore Sun's Michael Dresser, who writes about transportation issues and writes the Getting There blog, has discussed this accident and police driving in general.
Posted by Peter Hermann at 3:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Top brass, West Baltimore

Arrest in killing of city woman

Police confirmed today that Baltimore homicide detectives have made an arrest in the Dec. 12 killing of Cherrie Gammon, a 25-year-old mother and dancer on The Block who was found shot to death near Leakin Park. 

Hassan Muhammed, 32, of the 1600 block of Guilford Ave., is charged with first-degree murder and related charges, online court records show. He was arrested on Jan. 17 at 5:30 a.m., police said.

Gammon's body was found on the side of the road in the 1400 block of North Franklintown Road. Gammon struggled with drugs, and friends and family feared that played a role in her death. We're working to confirm details of the arrest.

Muhammad, who appears to have aliases making his criminal record unclear, is being held without bond, according to court records. At right is his mug shot from Central Booking.

The arrest comes as police have struggled to close cases early in 2011. Only one of this year's 13 killings has been solved - the New Year's Day stabbing of 21-year-old David Jones in Curtis Bay.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:31 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: West Baltimore

January 20, 2011

Youth counselor sentenced for leading gang

A youth counselor for a city-funded organization that worked to reduce crime in West Baltimore was sentenced on Thursday to 14 years in prison for leading a gang and organizing drug dealing, money laundering and robberies, according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Federal prosecutors described Todd Duncan, 36, as the “city-wide commander” of the Black Guerrilla Family, a gang founded in California in the 1960s that authorities say is responsible for selling heroin and in Baltimore.

Federal authorities accused Duncan of using his outreach work with Operation Safe Streets as a cover for drug dealing, and for promoting violence even as he got paid to help stop the bloodshed. His attorney has said previously that his client is not a violent person.

U.S. District Judge James D. Quarles Jr. sentenced Duncan in accordance with a plea agreement reached with prosecutors in September, when he pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering and admitted his involvement in one of the most powerful and violent gangs in the state.

In a statement, prosecutors said Duncan ran the gang from 2006 through the summer of 2010 and helped supply heroin to various street-corner drug shops around Baltimore. They also said he arranged bulk sales of the drug to wholesale customers.

Continue reading "Youth counselor sentenced for leading gang" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Gangs, West Baltimore

January 19, 2011

Woman who killed baby convicted, freed

A 29-year-old accused of killing her baby and burying him in Druid Hill Park pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter and was given a 10-year suspended sentence, The Sun's Nick Madigan reports.

While Lakesha Haynie was able to walk free for the first time since her arrest 10 months ago, she will be on probation for five years, must report to the Department of Social Services if she becomes pregnant again and is forbidden to have unsupervised contact with children ages 6 and younger. She must also attend a counseling program at Planned Parenthood on Jan. 24.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Charles J. Peters told Haynie that if she violates any of the terms of her probation, "this court will not hesitate to put you in jail" for the rest of the 10-year sentence.

Haynie was charged in March with first-degree murder and child abuse in the death of 1-month-old Rajahnthon, whose skull was found to be fractured after his body was discovered, in a tethered bag, in a shallow grave in the park.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:41 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, West Baltimore

January 11, 2011

Recap of recent murder victims

The high-profile killing of a city police officer and a 22-year-old clubgoer, along with the disappearance of a 16-year-old honors student and fatal shooting of an autistic man who was the brother of a city police officer, have dominated the headlines to start the year. 

Here's a recap of some of the other victims, whose identities were provided by police today:

Continue reading "Recap of recent murder victims" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:59 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Northeast Baltimore, South Baltimore, West Baltimore

Two more people killed in Baltimore

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

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

See The Sun's homicide map.

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

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

January 6, 2011

Police seize more guns

The pace of slayings in Baltimore has slowed -- three to begin the year but nothing in the past few days. But police have kept up their relentless campaign to get guns off city streets.

Since last night, police have announced gun arrests in three parts of the city, starting in the Western where detectives with the Violent Crime Impact Section, targeting one of the more violent corridors in the city, made eight arrests Wednesday night and seized a .32 caliber handgun. The busts came while searching a house in the 700 block of North Fulton Ave.

In North Baltimore, police arrested two people and recovered a .40 caliber handgun from the 4000 block of Hamilton Ave. Detectives with a gang unit led the investigation.

Again in the Western, patrol officers stopped a car in the 200 block of North Carey St., arrested two people and seized a .38 caliber handgun.

And in South Baltimore, police raided a house in the 1600 block of Cedox St, arrested one person and seized a 20-gauge shotgun. 

January 5, 2011

Men shot in Baltimore, police seize more guns

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

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

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

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

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

December 25, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

December 24, 2010

14-year-old boy killed in West Baltimore triple shooting

A 14-year-old boy died after a Thursday night shooting that wounded two other teenage boys.

Issac Joyner of the 2500 block of Mosher St. was standing in the 1000 block of Ashburton St. — not far from his home — with two other boys at about 7:30 when at least one gunman walked up and opened fire, according to police spokesmen.

Joyner was rushed to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center where he was pronounced dead at about 8:20, said police spokesman Detective Jeremy Silbert.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:03 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: West Baltimore

December 23, 2010

Arrest in shooting of Coppin track athlete

Baltimore police Thursday morning arrested a man suspected of shooting a Coppin State University track athlete while the student was on a trip to the grocery store in October.

Police believe 19-year-old Michael Anthony Jones of Walden Court in Woodlawn shot Dale Dunn, a 24-year-old Jamaican student on scholarship at Coppin State, on the evening of Oct. 26 in the Mondawmin neighborhood. Dunn was able to make it back to an apartment he shares with friends, who took him to the hospital.

Police arrested Jones at 7 a.m. Thursday at his job near Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, said Detective Kevin Brown, a department spokesman. Maryland Transportation Authority officers aided in Jones' arrest, according to Brown.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: West Baltimore

December 20, 2010

Shaken infant's death a homicide

A 10-month-old child who died after being rushed to the hospital in September suffered a brain hemorrhage and is believed to have been shaken to death, police said. An autopsy on Dec. 17 confirmed homicide as a cause of death for Micha Crane, who lived in the 3500 block of Chesterfield Ave. and was found in the 1900 block of W. North Ave.

Police say they have not made any arrests in the death. Micha is the 11th child to die in Baltimore this year, and the fourth age 2 or younger. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:44 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: West Baltimore

December 17, 2010

Friends gather to remember slain woman

Friends and family gathered last night to remember Cherrie Gammon, the 25-year-old woman found fatally shot near Leakin Park over the weekend. 

A mother of two young children, Gammon had gone through her share of struggles, including the loss of her father at an early age, a divorce and battles with drugs. But the lasting image of her, friends say, was her caring nature.

"She went out of her way to help anybody that she could," said friend Brandi Bianconi-Guthrie. "If you were in a tight spot, she was always there." She was also outgoing: they recalled a birthday party for one of Gammon's children, where she ended up chasing people around the house - and eventually the neighborhood - with a slice of cake.

Her struggles with crack and heroin started about two years ago, and she took a job dancing at a club on The Block.  Bianconi-Guthrie said Gammon enjoyed the work at first, but was fearful how her children would perceive it and sought to get out of the business. Interview after interview for "straight" jobs were unsuccessful, Bianconi-Guthrie said.

Friends fear that her drug problem and her debts may have ultimately led to her death. She was shot multiple times before 5 a.m. in the 1400 block of N. Franklintown Rd. and flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911. She died in surgery at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. 

Police have not disclosed a motive or given any updates on the case, but Maj. Terrence McLarney said invetigators have ruled out speculation that the killing was somehow connected to the fire set on The Block.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:08 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: West Baltimore

December 14, 2010

Man sentenced to 24 years in prison for shooting at cop

A 31-year-old felon who was convicted in federal court of shooting at a Baltimore police officer in 2008 was sentenced this morning to nearly 24 years in prison. The U.S. District Court judge enhanced the sentence for Antonio Holton because he has three previous convictions for drug offenses and robbery, making him a career criminal.

It appears that federal authorities yanked the case out of Baltimore Circuit Court in mid-trial, after testimony had already begun in February 2009. It's not immediately clear why at this point, but the feds do take many of the city's gun cases because penalties in the federal system are harsher and conviction rates are better.

The case was first tried in Circuit Court, ending with a hung jury that was in favor of acquittal by a 10-2 margin, according to defense attorney Ivan Bates. Federal authorities then agreed to take the case. Court records show the case is pending in state court, but that appears to be a formality as they await the outcome of the federal proceedings.

At the onset of his trial in state court, Holton's attorney grilled Police Officer Jared Fried, a narcotics detective, on why he shot at his client 10 times, striking him once. The attorney also questioned why his client's DNA wasn't found on the .45 caliber Hi-Point pistol.

For more details:

Continue reading "Man sentenced to 24 years in prison for shooting at cop" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:24 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Police shootings, West Baltimore

December 13, 2010

Thieves commandeer pharmaceutical delivery truck, abduct driver

[This is a breaking news update. The original post is after the jump]

A pharmaceutical delivery driver was abducted while making his rounds in West Baltimore on Monday morning by thieves who made off with a truckload of drug products, police said.

Police called the morning heist “incredibly thought-out,” and were looking for three suspects. The robbery occurred at about 9 a.m. in the 2000 block of W. Pratt St., outside the tiny Westside Pharmacy and Wellness Center.

The 55-year-old driver was forced at gunpoint into the back of his delivery truck and transported to an unknown location where the suspects unloaded about 80 crates of drug products. He called police from the 2000 block of Annapolis Rd. in Westport at about 10:10 a.m.

“The value of the drugs is significant,” said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, who said he could not place a dollar figure. “We believe the individuals responsible might have had knowledge about where and when the truck was going to be.”

Guglielmi said police were in contact with the local FBI and DEA.

At the pharmacy, located along a struggling commercial corridor in West Baltimore, a handwritten, neon yellow sign tells customers when the store will be closed, and a flier for a lost dog is in the door. The inside resembles a hardware store, and the service counter is located in the back.

A manager who declined to give his name said he didn’t know what had happened until detectives visited the store later in the day. He said the driver drops off supplies every weekday morning but that he did not know his name.

“This is the first time we’ve had something like this happen in eight years,” he said. “We’re just happy he was not harmed.”

Police did not give out a description of the suspects.

Continue reading "Thieves commandeer pharmaceutical delivery truck, abduct driver" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:15 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Breaking news, South Baltimore, West Baltimore

December 1, 2010

Nickel theft goes international

It started with a call for a routine burglary.

It was anything but routine.

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

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

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

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

More details on the case in today's Crime Scenes

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

November 29, 2010

Little insight into officer's crash death

The investigation into the death of Baltimore Officer Thomas Portz Jr., who died last month when his police cruiser crashed into the back of a parked firetruck in West Baltimore, has yielded no new clues into what caused the accident, according to police.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said crash investigators have ruled out a mechanical problem with his vehicle, and an autopsy uncovered no underlying medical condition such as a heart attack as factors in the Oct. 20 crash.

Portz, who was also responding to the call, struck the back of the truck with his vehicle at a high rate of speed, officials said. There were no skid marks behind the car indicating that it had braked, and police said they can only speculate as to what caused him to lose focus on the road.

"Modern-day police investigations have taken us as far as they can," Guglielmi said. "There's just some things we'll never be able to do. The family and the commissioner would love closure, but we've gone through every shred of evidence."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 8:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

November 21, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

November 19, 2010

16-year-old stabbed in fight at Douglass High

Police say a 16-year-old suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being stabbed during a fight at Douglass High School this afternoon. At about 4 p.m. the boy was fighting with a group of males near the football field when he was stabbed in the back. He was transported to Sinai Hospital.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police had not made any arrests and said the school was not having an event at the time of the stabbing.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:50 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: West Baltimore

November 18, 2010

Juveniles charged in nature center break-in

Two youths, ages 11 and 14, have been charged as juveniles with breaking into the Carrie Murray Nature Center and stealing a dozen animals. A police spokesman confirmed the charges this morning but had no further details.

The boys could have been arrested or charged and left in the custody of their parents pending their court date. Police said the nature center at the edge of Leakin Park was broken into twice, once over the weekend, and then again Monday night or early Tuesday.

Among the animals stolen were gechos, chameleons, turtles, an iguana and a Madagascar hissing cockroach. A tip led police on Tuesday to a house near the center, where they found all the animals unharmed. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:47 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

Two shootings in Baltimore

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

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

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

November 16, 2010

Exotic animals stolen from nature center recovered

The exotic animals stolen in two break-ins at the Carrie Murray Nature Center in West Baltimore have been found safe in a rowhouse in West Baltimore, according to city police.

Anthony Guglielmi, the department's chief spokesman, said detectives got a tip from a resident that he saw juveniles carrying the animals into a house in the 5000 block of Clifton Ave. Within the hour, police were at the house and said they found the dozen animals unharmed. They include an iguana, several turtles and a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Earlier today, police suspected an inside job because in break-ins over the weekend and Monday night, the alarm had been turned off. Entry had been gained through a rear door and an unlocked window.

But now police said they suspect neighborhood youths. No charges have filed yet; Guglielmi said detectives are "debriefing the people" inside the house. "At this point, it does not appear to be an inside job."

The house in which the animals were found are on the western edge of Leakin Park, near the Carrie Murray Nature Center.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:44 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

Nature center broken into again

UPDATE: Baltimore police say two chameleons were stolen in the latest break-in at the Carrie Murray Nature Center. Police said someone got in through an unlocked window. Over the weekend, someone broke in through a door and authorities said they alarm system had been turned off. Police are now investigating whether a staffer or a volunteer is responsible.


Baltimore police confirmed this morning that they are back at the Carrie Murray Nature Center in Leakin Park investigating another break-in. As you may recall, someone got into the preserve over the weekend and stole several animals, including a beloved iguana, turtles, two geckos and a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

The police report for that incident noted that the building's alarm system "has been suspended for over two years." 

This morning, Baltimore police spokesman Jeremy Silbert said: "We are on the scene of another reported burglary at the location. There were some animals that were taken. I have no specifics yes as to what it was."

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the Baltimore Department of Parks and Recreations told me this morning that no animals were taken but that the center was vandalized. We'll have fuller details once police finish up at the scene.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:57 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

November 15, 2010

Missing cockroach, other wildlife

If you see a Madagascar Hissing cockroach, call Baltimore police.

Same for six turtles ( one Eastern Box, two Susquehanna Maps and three Red-Ear Sliders), two geckos (a Gargoyle and a Tangerine Flat Tail) and one 3-foot-long iguana.

These are among the exotic wildlife stolen over the weekend during a break in at the Carrie Murray Nature Center in West Baltimore’s Leakin Park, according to a Baltimore police report filed on Monday.

The preserve, named after Orioles great Eddie Murray’s mother, helps educate youth and others about a variety of animals, from insects to hawks and beavers to song birds.

Two months ago, the center held its 11th annual bug fest that included cockroach races, bug hikes and insect cuisine. City police say they have no suspects in the break-in, which occurred sometime between 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:17 a.m. Monday.

A naturalist told police that he had “locked and made sure the center was secured” when he left Saturday but returned Monday to open and found the front and back doors unlocked and mulch from the cockroach cage covering the floor.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 4:41 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

Violent weekend in city, counties

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

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

Here are links to the stories:

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 11, 2010

Stabbing, shooting in Baltimore

The Baltimore Police Department just released this statement about two overnight violent crimes:

11/10/10 - Approx. 18:60Hrs
4100 Blk of Amos Ave.
At approximately 18:55hrs officers responded to an area hospital for a cutting call for service.  Upon arrival they spoke to the victim, an adult black male (9/17/85) who advised he had been stabbed after an altercation over a debt incurred after a football game wager.  Investigation continues, to include cultivation of suspects. At last check the victim was in stable condition.  
11/11/10 - Approx. 0100Hrs
1200 Blk of Ward St. (Outside)
On the above date and time officers responded to the location for a shooting call for service.  Upon arrival they discovered the victim, an adult black male (11/3/88), who advised that he was driving through the location and as he stopped he exchanged words with a male standing in the block.  As he (the victim) exited his vehicle the unknown male pulled out a gun and fired, striking the victim twice (right hand and right leg). Victim was transported to an area hospital and is in stable condition at last check. At present, no suspects or motive.  
The homicide numbers are as follows:
2010 YTD: 191
2009 YTD: 193

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:23 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Confronting crime, South Baltimore, West Baltimore

November 9, 2010

Block of death

City work crews found the body of 21-year-old Derrius Currie on Saturday, inside a vacant house on West Lexington Street. It was the third killing in that block this year, the most of any block in Baltimore this year.

Several blocks have had two killings and at least twice two people have died in the same shooting on the same block. But I could not find a block with three violent deaths this year (though several neighborhoods have experienced more in a several-block radius).

I visited the block this morning and found the vacant where the body had been found, next to an empty lot filled knee-high with trash (photo at left), and that was next to another vacant building. Work crews for a private development company will soon be here to tear all this down and replace it with low-income housing, which residents said can not come soon enough.

I'll have more on this block in my Crime Scene column. And here is a story on the killing by The Sun's Justin Fenton.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:42 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Confronting crime, West Baltimore

November 8, 2010

Man, shot to death in vacant house, found by DPW crew

It appeared as though the city had gone its third weekend since mid-September without a homicide, but now comes word that a 21-year-old man was found dead inside a vacant home on Saturday morning.

According to police, a Department of Public Works crew that was cleaning in the area found the body of Derrius Currie inside a vacant. He had been shot in the head. Police gave no suspects or a motive, though Currie had a slew of drug arrests and convictions and had just been sprung from jail on Oct. 26 after he was convicted and received time time served for car theft as robbery charges were dismissed.

Robert Murrow, a spokesman for the Department of Public Works, said a special services crew, which responds to 311 requests, was cleaning out two vacant homes. Records show at least one of the homes was sold last month by the city to a development company.

Currie is the third person killed in the 800 block of W. Lexington St. this year, following the deaths of David Mitchell, 16, on April 29 and Arthur Peacock, 34, on Sept. 30. That block includes the Poe Homes housing project.

There was also a homicide that went unreported in late October. Edwin Green Jr., 44, was found on a sidewalk in the 3600 block of Fairview Ave. on Oct. 29. He was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. That case remains open as well.

For the year, police report a 49 percent clearance rate on homicides; the national average was about 64 percent in 2009.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:22 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

November 5, 2010

Shootings, stabbings

Here's a quick update on some violence reported this morning:

A man was found with gunshot wounds early Friday morning in Randallstown, according to Baltimore County Police, who said he later died. A woman called police from the 5400 block of Old Court Road at 3:06 a.m. to report a friend outside her back door, ringing her buzzer and trying to get in, police said.

Howard County Police are searching for a man who, while being escorted from an Ellicott City restaurant Wednesday night, stabbed a security officer in the neck. Officers were called just after 10 p.m. to the La Palapa Grill in the 8300 block of Main Street where security guard Brian Johnson, 44, of Rockville was stabbed with an unknown sharp object, police said.

Baltimore detectives are still working to identify a man was fatally shot in the back in West Baltimore on Thursday morning, according to Baltimore Police. The shooting was reported at 2:58 a.m. in the 200 block of South Woodyear St., in the New Southwest/Mount Clare neighborhood, police said.

For more information on Baltimore slayings, check out the city homicide map.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:33 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore County, Howard County, West Baltimore

November 4, 2010

Deaths in fire, shooting add to city's homicide totals

A shooting early today on Woodyear Street in Southwest Baltimore and a fire in Northeast Baltimore has claimed two lives. City police said they're investigating the fire death as a homicide.

Firefighters found the body of a man while battling the blaze about 2:25 a.m. on McClean Boulevard in a townhouse development. No further details have been released, but crews at the scene told WMAR that the man had been stabbed and then set on fire to cover up the crime.

About 2 minutes later, shortly before 3 a.m., police responded to the 200 block of South Woodyear Street and found a man who had been fatally shot in the back. No arrests have been made.

More than 186 people have been killed in Baltimore so far this year. For a detailed look at the city slayings, check out our homicide map.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Northeast Baltimore, West Baltimore

New plan to combat city vacants

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

The Sun's Julie Scharper wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "New plan to combat city vacants" »

November 2, 2010

Update: Coppin runner still in critical condition

A short update on the condition of Dale Dunn, the Coppin State University track star who was shot in the chest during a robbery try last week: 

Roger McAfee, the sports information director for Coppin, said Dunn is still in critical condition and hooked to a ventilator. 

"They feel like he's doing better, but it's going to be quite a process," McAfee said. "He's still critical and honestly, not a lot has changed, but in relative terms, he's doing well."

Dale Dunn, a 24-year-old on full scholarship from Jamaica who is an academic All-American, was shot Oct. 26 as he walked back from the grocery store to a home he shared with teammates in the Mondawmin neighborhood. He was able to make it back to the home, and his friends drove him to a local hospital.

Athletic director Derrick Ramsey called Dunn an "incredible young man." A management sciences major who maintains a 4.0 grade point average, he was one of seven Jamaican members of Coppin's track team last year. Over the summer, Dunn was named to ESPN The Magazine's track and field and cross country Academic All-America second team.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: West Baltimore

November 1, 2010

Two killed in West Baltimore

Baltimore Police were investigating a fatal Monday morning shooting in West Baltimore, which in the 500 block of Mosher Street at 2:35 a.m., according to police. Other details were not immediately available.

The shooting follows a weekend in which a woman was found fatally shot early Sunday morning — also in West Baltimore, on the 2300 block of Braddish Ave. — and police reported two nonfatal shootings Friday night and Saturday morning in East and Southwest Baltimore.

County police were also investigating a fatal shooting in Halethorpe that injured two others. Scant details on that case at the moment as well.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:40 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Baltimore County, West Baltimore

October 29, 2010

Argument leads to man's death in Southwest

Another killing Thursday evening in Southwest Baltimore brings the week's murder count to at least eight. They include the killing of a 63-year-old bus driver on his way to work, a 16-year-old juvenile and a domestic slaying.

Police have made an arrest in the domestic killing and more details are in Justin Fenton's story here. Also, more details on these killings and others can be found on the Baltimore Sun's homicide map.

Here is some more information on the latest killing from The Sun's Yagenah June Torbati:

Continue reading "Argument leads to man's death in Southwest" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:42 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

October 27, 2010

Coppin track star critically wounded in W. Baltimore shooting

An All-Academic track star for Coppin State University was critically wounded Tuesday night after being shot in the chest while going to a grocery store in Baltimore’s Mondawmin neighborhood, police said.

The 24-year-old was shot about 10:15 p.m. in the 2000 block of N. Bentalou St., according to police. Teammates told investigators that the man was making a trip to a nearby grocery store when three people accosted him; the friends drove him to St. Agnes Hospital, and he was later taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in “critical and unstable” condition, police said.

A source identified the victim as Dale Dunn, a member of the Coppin track team who is from Kingston, Jamaica. Over the summer, Dunn was named to ESPN The Magazine’s track and field and cross country Academic All-America second team.

According to the school’s website, Dunn earned all-conference honors in cross country during the 2009 fall season, and he placed second in the 800-meter race at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Indoor Championships. He also anchored the Eagles’ 400-meter relay team.

UPDATE: University officials told WBAL-TV that Dunn was on a full scholarship and maintained a 4.0 grade point average. The team's roster shows he was one of seven members on the 14-member team from Jamaica.

Friends at his home, not far from where the shooting took place, declined to talk to a reporter. It should be noted that the shooting occurred not at the Mondawmin Mall (as many seem to be inferring), but the Mondawmin neighborhood. It happened on the south side of Frederick Douglass High School, as Dunn was either making his way to or coming back from the mall, where he went to get food.

[Photo from Coppin State University web site.]

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:41 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: West Baltimore

Man in critical condition after Mondawmin shooting

A man shot in the Mondawmin area of Northwest Baltimore is in critical condition this morning -- the latest in a spate of violence that left five people dead in less than 24 hours Monday and Tuesday.

The Sun's Yeganeh June Torbati reports this morning that the 24-year-old was shot in the 2000 block of North Bentalou Street Tuesday night.

Justin Fenton, The Sun's police reporter, has a story today documenting the violence, which includes a 16-year-old boy and a 63-year-old school bus driver who was shot while heading off to work in West Baltimore.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Northwest Baltimore, West Baltimore

October 25, 2010

Weekend violence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 21, 2010

Learning about death on the Internet

Two Baltimore police officers killed since Saturday, and in each case word of their deaths spread on social media sites before city officials released the information to the public, or even to all the relatives of the deceased.

The Sun's Justin Fenton explores this tricky issue in today's newspaper:

When off-duty Baltimore Police Detective Brian Stevenson was killed Saturday night after being struck in the head by a piece of concrete, word spread quickly through police circles and spilled onto Facebook, where the officer's young daughter learned of his death before relatives could break it to her in person.

On Monday, Officer Tommy Portz was killed instantly when his vehicle struck a fire engine on U.S. 40. For more than two hours, officials said Portz was in "extremely serious condition" as they worked to locate his family — even as memorials popped up online from those who already knew the accident was fatal.

We in the traditional media have always tried to balance getting the word out with being sensitive to relatives. Reporters at scene often learn the identities of the victims well before detectives can find relatives. It comes from checking the address of a house, or from a neighbor, or from a police source.

This newspaper knew Portz's name before the police department had even officially notified the public of the crash. But we withheld because the sources were not official, and we wanted on-the-record confirmation from police and hospital officials that he had died before publishing.

But social network sites don't abide by those rules. As Justin points out today, with everyone being a self-publisher, they are free to report anything. But more and more, posting even sensitive information among trivial status updates seems to be growing way to alert people to news about surgery, disease and even death.


Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:17 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Confronting crime, Top brass, West Baltimore

October 20, 2010

Baltimore police officer killed in crash

UPDATE: The Baltimore police officer injured in the car crash has died.

Baltimore police will updating the public shortly on this mornings crash involving a city fire truck and a police cruiser in West Baltimore. The Western District officer was rushed to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, but there have been few updates on his condition. We're told it's grave. The photo at left was taken by The Sun's Barbara Haddock Taylor.

Here is a brief report from The Sun's police reporter Justin Fenton:

A city police officer was badly injured and at least one firefighter was taken to a local hospital after the officer rear-ended a fire engine on U.S. 40. A police spokesman said emergency vehicles were responding to a medical call at Calhoun and Franklin streets when the police cruiser struck Engine 68 on eastbound U.S. 40 at the Stricker Street overpass.

Police shut down traffic to clear a route to Maryland Shock Trauma Center. An update on the officer's condition was not immediately provided. The front end and windshield of the police car, observed at the scene, were crushed in the incident, with the front fender completely off the vehicle.

Police are still busy preparing for a funeral for Detective Brian Stevenson, who was killed over the weekend while off-duty in a dispute over a parking space in Canton. You can read a full account of that story and the arrest here. Another city officer was killed in a traffic accident in Pennsylvania earlier this month. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

October 19, 2010

Battling vacants and fires

On Sept. 8, two simultaneous 4-alarm fires raced through a single block on Calhoun Street, wrecking rowhouses on both sides of and adding more blight and abandoned buildings to Baltimore's wasteland.

There are 16,000 empty buildings in Baltimore, 10,000 of them owned by the city (photos by The Sun's Jed Kirschbaum). It's complicated and time-consuming for city officials to get their hands on abandon properties and then turn them into viable living spaces, though officials are poised to announce a new plan to speed up the process.

The Sun's Jessica Anderson reports today from Calhoun Street, a block devastated by the arson fires but also still inhabited by people like Eva Brown, who watched firefighters struggle for hours to put out the flames and save the rowhouse in which she raised her children.

Meanwhile, firefighters in a department already taxed by budget cuts and rotating company closures, face a daunting task battling fires in vacant buildings, which account for about 15 percent of burning structures.

On the Sept. 8 fire, the Fire Department had to call for help from several surrounding counties and the chief in Washington sent trucks racing up I-95 as well to help Baltimore in what became the largest call-up of outside firefighters since the Great Fire of 1904.

"We exhausted the resources of Baltimore City that night," Capt. Stephan G. Fugate, the officers union president, told Anderson. He said blocks of homes were "exposed" that night because the department did not have adequate resources.

The story combines several city ills -- ugly blight and how the city struggles to erase it from its landscape; a fire department strapped for cash and unable to cope with two large fires; and the residents and homeowners who have to live next to these unsafe fire-traps.  

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:09 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Confronting crime, West Baltimore

October 12, 2010

7 killed from Friday through Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Baltimore Police Department

October 11, 2010

Stolen car leaves path of destruction

The driver of a stolen SUV from Washington went on what police describe as a "path of destruction" while trying to elude capture in West Baltimore on Monday. Police said members of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force about 3 p.m. tried to stop the vehicle when its driver sped away on West North Avenue.

It collided with a car at Hilton Parkway, causing minor damage and injuries, and then went up an alley into a townhouse complex about a block away. There, police said it ran over a mailbox and rammed three parked cars, causing them to burst into flames. The fire charred the vehicles and rendered the stolen SUV unrecognizable. Fire also melted the sidings on several townhouses.

Police said the man ran from the burning SUV and boarded an MTA bus. The driver pulled away and then stopped, and police arrested the man.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 4:37 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, West Baltimore

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

City shooting even as rain drenches area

Even a tropical storm dumping water on the city couldn't dissuade a gunman. Someone shot a 34-year-old man in the head Thursday night in the 800 block of West Lexington St. The shooting occurred shortly before 8 p.m.

The Sun's Liz Kay reports that the victim was found lying on the street and taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died at 8:24 p.m.

There's been 162 homicides this year, compared with 169 at this time last year, according to police and a database maintained by The Sun. 

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

September 27, 2010

Four shot in city over weekend; more gun seizures

Update: two more shootings to add to the list, one of them fatal.

Baltimore police reported four people shot in the city over the weekend, the latest about 10 p.m. Sunday night on Denison Street and Piemont Avenue. Few details have been released but police said an adult male was shot three times in the stomach. There is no immediate word on his condition.

Three others were shot and wounded this weekend -- on Oswego Avenue, Perring Parkway and Chelsea Terrace.

Police also reported seizing several guns. A tip led officers to an armed man in the 5500 block of Frankford Avenue and the recovery of a .22 caliber Beretta. A raid in the 5300 block of Denmore Avenue got police a .22 caliber handgun, heroin and money.

A traffic stop on Annapolis Road netted an arrest the seizure of marijuana and a 9mm handgun, according to police. And detectives arrested a man in the 3500 block of West Belvedere Avenue and got a .45 caliber handgun.


Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:15 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, West Baltimore

September 22, 2010

City police talk about mall robberies live on Internet

The Baltimore Police Department has scheduled a news conference for 11:15 a.m. to update the public on a series of robberies at Mondawmin Mall. The event will be live-streamed, meaning you can watch it as it happens.

Here is the link the press conference.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:49 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, Top brass, West Baltimore

City police select new commander to oversee sex offense unit reforms

Baltimore police have found a new commander to oversee reforms in the sex offense unit, selecting Dep. Maj. Clifton McWhite, of the Western District, to fill a vacant position overseeing special investigations.

Police thought they had this position filled before in July, when Maj. Scott Bloodsworth, the commander of the Southern District, was asked to move downtown and head the unit. But Bloodsworth instead opted to retire, and police have been searching for a replacement ever since. In the meantime, police have changed protocols for rape investigations, detectives have been sent to re-training, and an extensive review is underway to determine if cases marked as "unfounded" since 2009 were properly classified.

McWhite is a 15-year veteran whose experience includes homicide investigations, such as the killing of a Johns Hopkins student in 2004. In the past year he has jumped from lieutenant to deputy major of the Western District. He doesn't have experience with sex offense investigations, and officials believe that may be a plus given the way the unit has operated for the past several years. In his new role, he'll oversee child abuse, sex offense, missing persons, financial fraud, and the citywide robbery and pawn shop units.

[Picture by Sun photographer Karl Merton Ferron]

Continue reading "City police select new commander to oversee sex offense unit reforms" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Top brass, West Baltimore

Mondawmin merchants being held up

Two years ago, Mondawmin Mall underwent a multi-million dollar makeover that included bringing an anchor Target store to the troubled shopping complex. The idea was to spruce up the stores, and the neighborhood, and attract customers from across the city who otherwise shopped in the suburbs.

But now police are hunting three separate groups of robbers who have held up merchants in a wave of attacks since this summer. Shopkeepers at Mondawmin have been robbed 17 times since 2007, seven of those attacks coming this year alone.

The most recent occurred Sunday afternoon when a gunman made off with $100,000 in jewelry and watches from Elite Gold & Diamond. Merchants complained that mall managers told them not to talk publicly, but one manager at a shoe store told me how scared she was to have a gun pressed to her side.

Today's story also notes violence at suburban malls in Annapolis, Columbia and Towson. And in January, the victim of a shooting outside Mondawmin ran through the mall, leaving a trail of blood on the floor. The mall is pictured above in a photo by The Sun's Glenn Fawcett after it's upgrade.

Still, the number of armed robberies in an enclosed shopping center is a bit unnerving, especially since most are occurring in the middle of the afternoon. Here are some others culled from police reports:  

Continue reading "Mondawmin merchants being held up" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:27 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Confronting crime, West Baltimore

September 20, 2010

Woman charged with fatally beating aunt

A 34-year-old woman was charged with fatally beating her aunt Friday, after telling 911 dispatchers that she “hurt my aunt and I don’t know why.”

When police arrived at the scene, they found D’lana Simmons with her hands, face and clothes covered in the blood of aunt Cecelia Mitchell, 66. The murder weapon was believed to be “The Club,” the device used to lock the steering wheel of a vehicle, police said.

Police and medic units responded to the 1500 block of N. Stricker St. on Friday at about 7:50 p.m. for a call of an injured person. Mitchell was in the living room when officers arrived, with Simmons in the dining room. When an officer asked what happened, she did not respond and was placed in handcuffs.

According to charging documents, Detective Joseph Landsman reviewed a report of the 911 call, in which a female voice could be heard saying, “My aunt is lying on the floor dying because I hit her with The Club.” She identified herself as “D’lana.”

A relative told detectives that Simmons was her daughter and that Mitchell was her sister.

Simmons, of the 200 block of E. 33rd St., does not appear to have a prior criminal record. On what appeared to be her Facebook page, she said she had attended Villa Julie college and was pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:55 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: West Baltimore

September 15, 2010

Bar where cop busted complains about police

My new colleague over at the Midnight Sun blog, Erik Maza, reports that the owners of a bar where a city cop was busted early Sunday during a fight in the parking lot has been complaining about what they call police harassment.

Kind of ironic in a way that the owners of Club Reality on Washington Boulevard think the cops are singling them out for scrutiny and the one time police wade in to break up a fight it involves one of their own. It's the police who ended up more shamed than the bar.

In this case, police were directing traffic outside the venue when they heard a commotion and then saw a woman hit a man. That man, it turns out, was a city police officer who had been suspended last year after getting arrested for allegedly driving drunk off a police station parking lot.

Anyway, here is some of what Maza found while researching the bar-end of this bar fight:

Continue reading "Bar where cop busted complains about police" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, Neighborhoods, West Baltimore

September 14, 2010

Busted cop was already in trouble

The Baltimore police officer arrested early Sunday in a fight outside a bar on Washington Boulevard had already been suspended last year after he was arrested during an altercation on a police parking lot, according to court documents.

Everett Walker, a six-year veteran of the force, was in plain clothes while walking across the lot of the Southwestern District station in April 2009. Two other officers questioned him, not knowing he was a police officer, and an argument ensued.

Police said in charging documents that the officer thought Walker had been drinking and waited until he got into his personal car and backed out of his space. The officers then boxed him in and arrested him.

Court documents say he declined to take a breath test and that officers did not know he was on the force until they reached into his pants pocket and found his badge. They then removed his handgun from his waist. Walker's trial on a charge of disturbing the public peace is scheduled for October.

The officer now faces additional charges stemming from Sunday's altercation outside Club Reality on Washington Boulevard. Police said it was near closing when they walked behind the bar because of a loud dispute. They said they saw a woman punch Walker and then Walker later charged the woman and hit a bystander.

Both the woman and Walker were charged with assault. Walker was not armed at the time, as his gun had been confiscated after the April incident.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:24 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Breaking news, Top brass, West Baltimore

Baltimore police officer arrested

A bar fight in the parking lot of Club Reality in Southwest Baltimore turned ugly for cops, and they ended up arresting one of their own. The officer clearly picked a bad time to get in trouble -- one of the officers he encountered was his boss, Maj. Anthony Brown, the commander of the Southwestern District.

The officer has been suspended without pay and faces charges of assault and disorderly conduct stemming from a fight with a woman and fellow officers outside the bar on Washington Boulevard early Sunday.

A department spokesman identified him as Officer Everett Walker, 29, who has been on the force nearly six years. Police said they also arrested the woman, Takira Thompson, 20, and charged her with assault.

Police describe a raucous altercation in the back parking lot of the bar shortly before 2 a.m. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Everett appeared intoxicated and belligerent, but he did not have his weapon with him at the time.

Here are the details: 

Continue reading "Baltimore police officer arrested" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:50 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Breaking news, Top brass, West Baltimore

September 7, 2010

Stolen car hits pedestrian

UPDATE, 11:05 a.m.: At the scene, the intersection of West North and North Fulton avenues, a silver sedan was heavily damaged and a bike with a milk crate lay twisted on the median, as a pile of newspapers were pushed around the intersection by the wind. Witnesses said the injured man appeared to be in his 50s and was taken away in an ambulance; the driver of the stolen vehicle was said to be a woman. Police could not immediately confirm those details.

Jeanelle Hinton, 36, said she was sitting in her car as her cousin got a bottled water from a nearby convenience store, when suddenly the Foxtrot police helicopter swooped down and a number of vehicles converged at the intersection. 

"When they blocked the car in, I heard all this crashing and noises," she said of the several cars that were damaged. "The guy was on the ground, and his body was twisted. It was like something out of a movie."


Baltimore police just sent out a Twitter alert saying a stolen car jumped a median strip and hit a pedestrian at West North and Fulton avenues in West Baltimore. There are no other details available, including the condition of the man who was hit.

It's also unclear whether police were chasing or following the stolen car at the time. We'll provide updates as the morning progresses.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:59 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

Three men shot; awaiting charges in St. Paul St. stabbing

Three men in their 20s were shot on a West Baltimore street corner shortly before 9 p.m. Monday night. All three made it on their own to a nearby hospital and are expected to survive. One was grazed on the hip, another shot in the leg and the third was wounded several times.

Meanwhile we're awaiting charges on the three juveniles who police say stabbed a 37-year-old man on St. Paul Street Monday afternoon. The brazen daylight attack occurred about 3:30 p.m. near Penn Station, an area we wrote about extensively after the Johns Hopkins researcher was killed as he walked back home from a bus stop a few weeks ago.

It's an area in transition, splitting a neighborhood called Station North where the city is trying to transform into a viable, livable area, and Lower Charles Village on the north side of North Avenue.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:39 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Breaking news, North Baltimore, West Baltimore

September 2, 2010

Two shot; more guns seized

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

Both shootings occurred after midnight.

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

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

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

August 29, 2010

Man shot by officer has long record

Here is some updated information on the man shot earlier today by a Baltimore police officer. It was provided by the department's chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi:

This morning at approximately 230am, BPD responded to Agusta and Rokeby Avenue for report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, police witness two individuals standing next to a parked car. As officers approach the individuals for questioning, 26 year old Steven Grant flees the location and leads police on a foot chase where he eludes capture for a short time. Grant was later captured approximately 5 blocks from the scene and police are still searching for a weapon.

The second suspect, 30 year old Jimmy Lucas (left) remains at the scene and brandishes what appears to be a 22 cal. carbine rifle with banana clip (ballistics testing pending to clarify weapon cal.). An officer gives a verbal command to drop the weapon immediately, after no response from the suspect, multiple shots are fired in an effort to incapacitate the threat to police. The weapon was recovered.

Continue reading "Man shot by officer has long record" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:28 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Breaking news, Police shootings, West Baltimore

Baltimore officer shoots man in Southwest

A Baltimore police officer shot and critically wounded a man early today in Southwest Baltimore. Here are some initial details from city police spokesman Kevin Brown:


Please be advised that at approximately 2:35 am this morning officers responded to a suspicious person call for service within the area of the intersection of Rokeby and Augusta Streets in the Southwest District. Officers engaged two armed suspects. During the course of the incident an officer fired upon and struck one of the suspects. He was transported to an area hospital and being treated (critical condition). The other suspect was also taken into custody. Sound will be given by the Director tomorrow morning at the BPD HQ Press Room at 10am.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:11 AM | | Comments (1)

August 27, 2010

Pastor pleads guilty in plot to kill disabled man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 12, 2010

Video of pot bust

Baltimore police on Wednesday showed off the fruits of a marijuana bust in Leakin Park. An observer aboard the Foxtrot helicopter noticed the plants and officers kept watch over the area for a month hoping to catch whoever was responsible.

They ultimately decided to cut down the 34 plants down. Here is some video shot by the police helicopter and shown on WJZ-TV:


Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:25 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Confronting crime, West Baltimore

August 11, 2010

Police raid car wash, seize drugs, guns, boat

Baltimore police on Wednesday described a Reisterstown Road car wash as a front for drug dealers after they raided the business and a department spokesman said they seized more than two pounds of cocaine, weapons and a 24-foot power boat from the business.

Authorities said a “brick” of cocaine and $4,000 in cash were found in a hidden compartment of an office end table that could only be opened by placing two magnets on top. Police said they found five handguns, a MAC-11 assault pistol and a shotgun elsewhere in the car wash.

Police also took at least five vehicles and the boat, which spokesman Anthony Guglielmi described as a 2010 model that had been purchased with cash. Police said they might turn the case over to federal authorities for prosecution and begin asset forfeiture proceedings to keep the vehicles.

Four people including the owner of Celebrities Car Wash, located in the 6600 block of Reisterstown Road near a shopping plaza, were arrested and charged with drug offenses. The case was investigated by the Violent Crime Impact Division, whose officers this year have taken 500 illegal guns and $8 million in drugs off city streets.

Here is a statement from Baltimore police:

Continue reading "Police raid car wash, seize drugs, guns, boat" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 5:30 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, West Baltimore

August 4, 2010

Off-duty Baltimore police lieutenant thwarts robbery

Updated suspect charged with first-degree robbery, assault and theft.

An off-duty Baltimore police lieutenant thwarded an armed robbery earlier today. City police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi issued this statement:

On Aug 4, 2010 at aprox. 1222 hrs a male victim was walking in the 300 blk of S. Franklintown Rd when suspect Davon Rooks (M/B/11-25-76) approached him from behind and placed a gun to his head in an attempt to rob the victim.

During the incident, off-duty Baltimore Police Lt. Schluderberg was at Frederick Ave and S. Franklintown Rd. stopped at the stoplight when he observed Rooks holding a gun to the victims head

Lt. Schluderberg then got out of his vehicle and was able to take control and custody of both males.  A citizen who also observed the altercation and was able to flag down additional police officers to assist the off-duty Lieutenant.  

Suspect Davon Rooks did not get any property from the victim and was subsequently placed under arrest. Recovered from the scene was a plastic toy semi-automatic handgun.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 12:37 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, West Baltimore

August 3, 2010

City police make more gun arrests

Baltimore police announced more gun seizures and an arrrest in a New Year's Day triple-shooting and a shooting in West Baltimore.

Police said they arrested Jamal Wells, 20, and charged with possessing an illegal, loaded handgun in the 3400 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway, and in a separate bust, they arrested two men fighting over a rifle in an alley in the 1700 block of Poplar Grove St. Police responded after hearing gunshots.

City police also said they arrested Antoine Phipps in the Aug. 1 non-fatal shooting of a man in the first block of North Stricker St. in West Baltimore. And they arrested Johnny Garrison, 35, in a Jan. 1 shootings in the 4200 block of Sheldon Ave.

Here are the details from that incident, as reported Jan. 2:

In what appeared to be the city's first shootings of the new year, three people were injured in a single incident in Northeast Baltimore early Friday, a police spokesman said. The spokesman, Agent Donny Moses, said the shootings occurred about 3:30 a.m. in the 4100 block of Sheldon Ave. when one gunman walked up to a car and opened fire as the occupants were getting out. A 19-year-old man was wounded in the hip and was treated at a city hospital. A 25-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman were struck several times in their chests and were listed in serious but stable condition at an unidentified hospital. Police did not release their names.


Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:19 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, North Baltimore, West Baltimore

July 30, 2010

Another slaying, more guns off city streets

Police are investigating the city's latest killing, that of a 36-year-old man who was shot to death shortly after midnight today in Northwest Baltimore.

Few details were made available, but the shooting occurred in the 5200 block of Florence Ave. Detectives are also investigating a non-fatal shooting on West Lanvale St. in West Baltimore. The victim is a 47-year-old man.

Meanwhile, police announced more gun seizures.

They said a traffic stop in the 2200 block of Kirk Ave. in Northeast Baltimore led to two arrests and the seizure of a loaded handgun. On the city's westside, police said they raided rowhouses in the 1700 block of West Warwick Ave. and in the 1500 block of Presstman St. in West Baltimmore and found three handguns and arrested seven suspects.

July 29, 2010

O'Malley offers praise for Jessamy, stops short of explicit endorsement

During an appearance in West Baltimore to announce $7 million in public safety funding grants, Gov. Martin O'Malley was asked whether he would be endorsing anyone in the upcoming state's attorney's race.

He stopped short of endorsing her, but offered what sounded like high praise for incumbent Patricia Jessamy, saying their "partnership has never been stronger," that they talk every day, and that her "leadership and performance" has been a big part of crime declines in Baltimore. Specifically pressed if he would endorse her, he replied: "I anticipate - yeah, stayed tuned." Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown also appeared at her birthday fundraiser over the weekend, according to reports.

That's particular notable, as friction between O'Malley and Jessamy is well-documented, and in one his last acts as mayor he increased her salary dramatically - 60 percent, or $83,000, to $225,000 - in what many believed was an attempt to make the position more attractive to potential challengers. When defense attorney Gregg Bernstein announced he would challenge Jessamy in the Democratic primary, Jessamy even accused of O'Malley of putting Bernstein up to it.

I've sought clarity this morning from O'Malley's campaign spokesman, through text, email and phone calls, and haven't heard back.  I will update this post when I do.

Rick Abruzzese, O'Malley's campaign spokesman said in an email: "I think the Governor’s words speak for themselves. And the important thing is that the two of them are working well together and achieving results."

Here's a transcript of O'Malley's remarks, which came right after he said "yes" when asked if Judge John Addison Howard had "dropped the ball" in his handling of suspect John Alexander Wagner:


Continue reading "O'Malley offers praise for Jessamy, stops short of explicit endorsement" »

July 28, 2010

Killer of 6-year-old girl out of prison, in trouble again

Anne Arundel County police released pictures of a carjacking outside the Annapolis Mall earlier today hoping to find the victim who sped away after the suspect jumped out of the vehicle and was promptly arrested (photo at left).

His name is Arthur Tyler Felton, 38.

A check of the records reveals a stunning fact: Arthur Tyler Felton shot and killed 6-year-old Tiffany Smith in July 1991 during a gun battle with a rival drug dealer in West Baltimore's Walbrook community.

The shooting outraged the city much in the same way Sunday's stabbing death of Stephen Pitcairn does today, complete with similar complaints of lenient prison sentences for prior crimes and failures of judges and others to hold criminals accountable.

Felton pleaded guilty to second-degree mruder, agreed to testify against his rival and got a 30 year sentence, with all but 18 years suspended. He was released in 2005, after spending 13 years behind bars, and completed his probation just three months ago.

Now, police in Anne Arundel County have charged him with stealing a cell phone and an MP3 player from a Sears store in the mall and then briefly carjacking a woman in a failed bid to escape security guards.

Tiffany Square still stands on Rosedale Street, complete with the little girl's name and a few trees. But the promised revival of the neighborhood, along with promises by cops and others to end the scourage of drugs and violence, failed.

Now, after Pitcairn's death on St. Paul Street, a makeshift memorial is going up and politicans are again swarming the scene of a murder and promising reforms. And the debate rages over prison sentences.

Back in 1992, Tiffany's mother complained that her child's killers had gotten away with murder. After 20 years, the stories and the complaints remain the same.

Here are the details on the Annapolis theft and carjacking:

Continue reading "Killer of 6-year-old girl out of prison, in trouble again" »

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:12 PM | | Comments (3)

July 26, 2010

Man arrested in drug chase that led to woman's death

Police have charged a 26-year-old with negligent manslaughter after he crashed into a woman’s vehicle while eluding city officers Sunday afternoon, court records show.

According to the court records, Tyrone Hicks, who was being sought on a warrant, struck two officers’ vehicles as he attempted to evade arrest. Police have a policy against high-speed chases, but said that they had received information that Hicks was armed.

Several baggies of marijuana were recovered, but no weapon, according to court records.

The victim was identified in charging documents as Queonna Zophia Edmonds, who police say was from rural South Hill, Va. Attempts to locate family members were unsuccessful, but she appears to have been a 2007 graduate of the University of Virginia and worked a Washington DC theater. It's unclear what brought her to Baltimore.

Continue reading "Man arrested in drug chase that led to woman's death" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 4:40 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: South Baltimore, West Baltimore

July 25, 2010

Another fatal accident when suspect flees police

A 25-year-old Virginia woman is dead after a man fleeing city police struck her vehicle in West Baltimore, the second time in less than 24 hours that a suspect fleeing police has resulted in a traffic fatality.

At 3 p.m., police received a call for a possibly armed suspect dealing drugs from a truck at Monroe and Penrose streets, police said in a statement. The driver, identified as Tyrone Hicks, 26 (seen at left in a 2004 booking photo), attempted to flee, striking three police cars. Police said Hicks "continued to engage police in a pursuit throughout the city" and collided with a civilian vehicle at the intersection at Monroe and McHenry streets. 

The woman was transported to Maryland Shock Trauma and died as a result of her injuries. Police did not identify her but said she is a 25-year-old from Spring Hill, Va. 

During the chase, police said Hicks threw a "box-like object" out of his vehicle containing suspected narcotics. He was being sought on a warrant and has an extensive criminal history, police said.

Continue reading "Another fatal accident when suspect flees police" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 8:20 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: West Baltimore

July 21, 2010

Two men shot in gun battle

Two men shooting at each other on Gilmor Street in West Baltimore Tuesday night were wounded, the latest shooting in the city. One victim was struck in the thigh; the other in the leg. Neither wounds appeared to be life threatening.

Meanwhile, police continued their assault on guns, arresting two men in the 300 block of Woodland Ave. and seizing a handgun and suspected drugs, and arresting two men on Reservoir Street in Reservoir Hill and seizing a revolver.

Also, police said they arrested a man in a Tuesday stabbing just hours after the victim died at a hospital. The inicident occurred about 9:40 a.m. on Schroeder Street in West Baltimore.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:36 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

July 16, 2010

Top city police commander helps nab suspect

It's no secret that Baltimore police and prosecutors snipe at each other in the political arena, but on the streets they do team up.

Here's an example from the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office on how a top city police commander, Col. Dean Palmere, chief of the criminal investigations division, chased down a man in West Baltimore identified for special attention because of his criminal history:

Continue reading "Top city police commander helps nab suspect" »

July 12, 2010

Morning shooting in Reservoir Hill

Police are on the scene of a shooting this morning in Reservoir Hill. A man was taken to a local hospital with injuries that appear non-life-threatening after being shot in the abdomen in the 2200 block of Callow Ave. The victim was located around the corner, sitting on steps in the 800 block of Newington Ave., where small amounts of blood stained the marble steps. Neighbors said they heard five shots but no one I was able to speak with had seen the incident.  The shooting comes after a relatively quiet weekend, which Peter blogged about earlier today. Deputy Commissioner Anthony Barksdale, Col. Dean Palmere, and Maj. Melvin Russell, of the Eastern District, briefly visited the scene and spoke with investigators (they had been attending the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives conference at the convention center)


Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:16 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

Few shot in city over weekend

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

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

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

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

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

July 8, 2010

More gun seizures

Continuing the attack on guns, Baltimore police announced this morning three more arrests in two separate incidents in West Baltimore.

A raid on a rowhouse in the 1800 block of N. Monroe St. led to one man arresed and the seizure of a handgun and suspected drugs. A car stop in the 1100 block of N. Fulton Ave. led to the recovery of a stolen handgun and two arrests. That was made by the Regional Auto Theft Task Force.

Just a few days ago, city police showed 76 guns seized in a little over a week. A photo by The Sun's Gene Sweeney Jr. is at left, showing Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III flanked by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

There were cheap .38s, pump-action shotguns, a few long guns modified to resemble assault weapons, and a replica of an M-16. There were hunting rifles more appropriate for the wilds of Western Maryland. Tiny guns that could fit in a purse or pocket. Weapons that could belong to a militia. These are the guns seized by Baltimore police officers in the past 10 days.

Authorities put them on display at police headquarters to highlight crime reductions and a surge in weapon seizures that has netted a total of 1,164 illegal firearms this year. Meanwhile, the 99 people killed in the first six months of this year is the fewest over the same time frame in the past quarter-century.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:34 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, West Baltimore

July 7, 2010

Baltimore police on scene of body

Baltimore police homicide detectives are at this hour on Cuthbert Avenue in Pimlico investigating a body found in the street. Police have few details at this moment, and it's not yet clear whether this is a homicide.

The victim is an adult male, police said.

In earlier violence, a man was shot in the buttocks during a robbery in Northeast Baltimore and another man remained in critical condition after being shot Tuesday night at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Druid Hill Avenue.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 9:26 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

June 24, 2010

Cops bust gunmen, investigate shootings

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

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

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

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

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

June 21, 2010

Bealefeld: Keep crime in perspective

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

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

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

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

"Based on all the curveballs thrown at this police department in the last year, I think these men and women are doing a damn good job to be down in homicides and nonfatal shootings," Bealefeld said at a news conference Monday. "People have to balance facts against perception."

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:13 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: East Baltimore, Southeast Baltimore, Top brass, West Baltimore

12 shot in Baltimore over weekend

man was fatally shot in East Baltimore early this morning, adding to a list of gunshot victims that turned city streets into a battle ground this weekend. That and another shooting early today brings the weekend total to 12 shot, three fatally.

The Baltimore Sun's Meredith Cohn wrote:

On one of Baltimore's most violent weekends so far this year, 10 people were shot in incidents across the city, with two confirmed dead. The police have no suspects in any of the shootings, which spanned early Saturday through Sunday morning, and can't say whether any are connected. But spokesman Detective Jeremy Silbert said the department is following leads and speaking to witnesses. "In these areas where the shootings occurred, we'll be increasing patrols," Silbert said.


June 17, 2010

"Baraka" star indicted in Gilmor Homes conspiracy

Among those indicted today in the Gilmor Homes drug conspiracy was Romesh Mustafa Vance, 20, who along with his brother was one of four high-risk students whose journey to attend the Baraka School in Kenya on scholarship was captured in the acclaimed documentary, “The Boys of Baraka.”

When the filmmakers caught up with the boys in 2006, they learned that Vance (seen at right, with his brother Richard Keyser) was cutting school, living with friends, and spending too much time on the streets. He “faces the Herculean task of rejecting the offerings of the street and making a productive life for himself,” they said in an update on the PBS web site.

Vance was already being held on first-degree murder charges after being picked up on a warrant on June 13 in connection with a kidnapping and murder from April 2009; the federal indictments adds heroin and crack cocaine conspiracy charges to his pending legal woes.

Vance’s murder charges are connected to the April 20, 2009 kidnapping and murder of Quonta Waddell, 24, who was hogtied and carried away screaming in front of his mother, according to court records. His kidnappers took $40,000 and attempted to extort more money before he was shot multiple times, records show.

Police initially charged 32-year-old Sherman Anderson in the crime, but prosecutors dropped those charges after a DNA hit on a piece of evidence linked another man to the crime. Since then, at least five men have been charged in the crime.'

[Thanks to Tim Johnson for the tip]

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:25 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: West Baltimore

22 indicted in Gilmor Homes drug conspiracy

The DEA and US Attorney's Office for Maryland just sent out this press release about a federal grand jury indicting 22 people in connection with a drug conspiracy at Gilmor Homes, a persistently troubled housing project in West Baltimore. There's not much in way of details, but officials say 12 of the defendants were arrested today and three were already in custody.

Their nicknames include "Dummy," "Sunny," "Pudge," "Fat Boy," "Big Man," "Big Boy," "Gotti," "Wimp," and "Slinky." There's also an apparent father/son duo, Dione Fauntleroy, 26, and Dione Fauntleroy, 46.

The younger Fauntleroy appears to have been charged in 2004 with the shooting an MTA officer but went free after the officer recanted part of his account of the shooting and said Fauntleroy was not involved, prompting prosecutors to drop the charge. He had been charged with being a lookout. The elder Fauntleroy has multiple drug convictions in his past, including a 10-year sentence from 1996. He's been charged multiple times since then.

The press release about the indictment is posted below:

Continue reading "22 indicted in Gilmor Homes drug conspiracy" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:44 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: West Baltimore

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 11, 2010

Gentleman and a murderer

Even the judge didn't quite know what to do with Donnel Lamont Covington.

He sliced someone's throat on a city street yet was so polite during his trial that he kept asking about his attorney's sick wife. He impressed the judge, the prosecutor and the clerks with his demeanor.

Before sentencing, he stood and told the court: "The American judicial system is the best judicial system in the world. I can't complain. I got a fair trial. My lawyer did his job, and the prosecutor did his job. I accept it."

Circuit Judge Emmanuel Brown was understandably taken aback. In a good way. He talk about seeing street thugs taking the street into his courtroom. The defense lawyer said his client's demeanor proved that there is a chance at redemption .

But Brown just couldn't buy all of it. Some things can't be overcome by niceness. Said the judge: "The one concern I have about you is that the person I see in my court is not the person on the street."

His ruling: Life in prison.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:54 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, West Baltimore

June 8, 2010

Elderly woman killed; husband arrested

Police say 80-year-old Philip Reid's daughter dropped him off at his West Baltimore house and waited outside. But she soon heard screams coming from inside, and with the doors to the home locked, called police.

Inside, officers found Reid sitting on top of his wife, 83-year-old Glennie, and he was strangling her. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and Philip Reid has been arrested, The Sun's Brent Jones reports. 

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore

June 3, 2010

Yet another child raped, contracts STD

It seems hard to believe, but another child in Baltimore has been raped and contracted a sexually transmitted disease. This one occurred in West Baltimore and involved a 7-year-old child and her mother's live-in boyfriend, who has been arrested and charged.

The Baltimore Sun is not identifying the suspect protect the identity of the child. This cases comes just a month after police say an 18-month-old contracted gonorrhea after her mother says she was sexually assaulted. Police have questioned a person of interest, a next-door neighbor who the mother says had been alone with the child in their Cherry Hill home, but have not yet filed charges.

The West Baltimore case was reported the same day as the one in Cherry Hill.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:59 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Confronting crime, West Baltimore

June 2, 2010

Dirt bike rider crashes into car; assaults driver

The driver of an illegal dirt bike plowed through a red light at a West Baltimore intersection on Wednesday and broadsided a red sedan, but the most serious injuries suffered by the car’s driver didn’t come from the crash, according to city police.

A department spokesman said a passenger on the dirt bike quickly hid the cycle in an alley and then returned with friends who beat up the car’s driver so severely that he had to be rushed to Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The car is above in a photo by The Sun's Jed Kirschbaum.

The teen-aged bike passenger was arrested and faces charges of assault. The driver of the bike was catapulted in the crash and suffered broken bones to his arm and wrist, said police spokesman Donny Moses. He also has been admitted to Shock Trauma and faces charges related to motor vehicle infractions and driving an illegal dirt bike, Moses said.

Conditions on the patients were not immediately available.

Wednesday’s accident at South Monroe and West Pratt streets is the latest involving an illegal dirt bike, which are prevalent during the hot summer months. Teens and others typically ride in packs, threatening pedestrians and other motorists as they race and perform wheelies and other stunts in traffic.

A 44-year-old motorcyclist from Greenbelt was killed Sunday after he crashed into a pole at Gilmor and Fayette streets when he lost control swerving to avoid a dirt bike whose operator was carrying a 2-year-old child.

Dirt bikes are nearly impossible for city police to stop. Officers are forbidden to chase them because it’s deemed too dangerous and have to rely on other means to combat the problem. The helicopter often follows groups around and notifies officers on the ground when they stop.

Police in some districts hand out fliers urging residents if they see a dirt bike parked in their neighborhood that they should call police. And a new law takes effect Oct. 1 that makes it illegal for gas station owners to dispense gas to dirt bikes. Also, Moses said officers have heard of gas station owners charging extra fees to fill dirt bike tanks.

The latest crash occurred about 11:30 a.m. Moses said the dirt bike driver, whose name and age was not immediately released, was driving south on Monroe Street and ran a light at Pratt. After the crash, which dented the driver’s side door of the red sedan, Moses said the passenger pushed the dirt bike into an alley and hid it in an open stairwell basement.

Moses said the youth returned with friends and beat the car’s driver until police arrived a few minutes later. Officers also retrieved the dirt bike. Of the car’s driver, Moses said, “Most of his injuries came as a result of the assault and not of the accident.”

“Dirt bikes are an obvious problem that we’re working tirelessly to abate,” Moses said.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 5:21 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, West Baltimore

One more (two more) shootings -- and gun busts

Coming off a horrific weekend -- and day after --the city appears to be quieting down. Baltimore Police report just one shooting overnight, a man who walked into the Johns Hopkins Hospital emergency room with a gunshot wound. At last report, police were searching for the crime scene.

UPDATE: City police report that shortly after 8 this morning, another man was shot -- an adult male wounded in the leg in the 1900 block of Park Ave. Detectives are investigating at this hour.

That's progress considering 10 people have been killed -- nine shot, one stabbed -- since Saturday, one of the deadliest stretches of violence since 2007. The Sun's crime reporter, Justin Fenton, takes you through the killings (reporting that at least two shootings in East Baltimore are believed linked to a Bloods-Crips gang feud) and I toured nine of the crime scenes on Tuesday. At left, is a photo of a tribute to two men killed at a cookout on Pulaski Street. Police said the shooting started with an argument over someone pulling woman's hair.

This morning, city police announced arresting a man on a search warrant and finding two illegal handguns, 1.5 pounds of suspected marijuana and $1,000. They arrested Anthony Walker, 38, on drug and weapons charges. No further details have been divulged.

And on Monday, police reported seizing a loaded revolver and arrested Shawn Demetrice Jones, 18, in the 400 block of N. Lakewood Ave., and finding two loaded handguns and suspected drugs during a car stop in the 2500 block of W. Baltimore St. One person was arrested.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, East Baltimore, Gangs, West Baltimore

June 1, 2010

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)

Another fatal shooting in Baltimore

It seems as if the entire city was wrapped in crime scene tape this weekend.

Ten people shot. Seven of them died. We've had weekends, days even, with more shootings (remember the day of the cookout last year when 18 people were shot in a single night -- though only two people died) but I can't recall any as deadly.

Virtually every part of the city, including two area where cops and everyone else are concentrating on -- Carrollton Ridge, where 5-year-old Raven Wyatt was shot last year, and McElderry Park, where former gang members try to intervene in disputes before they become violent.

And this morning we wake to news that the end of the Memorial Day holiday has brought no respite to the weary. Another shooting, another death, 43 minutes after midnight, technically after the holiday, but adding to the toll means 11 shootings with 8 eight dead in four days. This time, the shooting was in West Baltimore, on Fulton Avenue. And on top of that, a man was stabbed to death about 6 p.m. Monday in Northeast Baltimore.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:03 AM | | 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

Hero firefighter recovering

In the words of Baltimore's fire chief, Jeff Novack is "a modern-day hero" who "did what we hope all firefighters wil do, and that's put his own life at risk to save others."

To the fire union, Novack (at left, in a phot by The Sun's Kim Hairston), is a poster-child for a policy that endangers lives -- the rotating closure of fire companies to save money.

What Novack did was rush into a burning West Baltimore apartment and resuce an 86-year-old woman, and then he rushed back in to a third floor, up stairs, past flames to save another man trapped in a stairwell. To escape himself, he had to break a window and climb out and hang by his fingertips three stories above the ground.

Finally, he had to let go.

The fire had melted his geard. Doctors at Maryland Shock Trauma Center put him into a medically induced coma. Now, he's recovering, and set to testify in the trial of a woman who prosecutors set the April 7 blaze to get back at her boyfriend for having an affair.

But what makes this story even more troubling is that the fire union says that because of the rotating closures, Novack's backup was delayed to the fire on Liberty Heights Avenue. Novack, who rode a truck and was responsible for search and rescues, arrived well before the engines that have water.

Novack went inside the burning home without backup.

And that has made him not just a hero but a rallying point against further budget cuts. Fire Chief Clack told the Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper: "I think we're operating at the very edge of what's safe right now."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 6:31 AM | | Comments (1)

May 10, 2010

More twists and turns in the killing of Gerrod Finch

The stabbing death of 21-year-old Gerrod Finch last year in West Baltimore may be a perfect example of how a case is far from closed after police make an arrest.

When police got to the scene June 30, 2009, they found a blood trail leading from a vehicle and Finch lying in a supine position. Girlfriend Tanaya Salter, 21, said the pair got into an argument in the 600 block of Wheeler Ave. that caught the attention of some nearby men, who surrounded Finch and stabbed him.

But detectives noticed inconsistencies between Salter's account and that of other witnesses. Salter waived her rights and signed a taped statement, confessing that she stabbed Finch as he struck her during an alcohol-fueled argument inside the vehicle.

Authorities weren't sure at first if the new account — involving allegations of domestic violence and self-defense — merited criminal charges at all. But they would charge Salter with manslaughter, saying she had an opportunity to leave the argument but instead escalated it, "which inevitably caused the death of Mr. Finch," Detective Michael Moran wrote in charging documents.

Now, there's been another twist in the case. Salter has been cleared. And three men, at least one who police say has ties to the Bloods gang, have been indicted in the killing.

The current account is more similar to the original: Police say Derrean "Dizzy" Mills, 17, Montell "Cannibal" Mills, 17, and Mishael Belcher, 20, approached Finch's vehicle while he and Salter were arguing and assaulted him. Belcher is accused of stabbing Finch after he climbed out of the vehicle.

Follow the link for an account of witness intimidation related to the case that police say occurred at a downtown bus stop. 

[This entry has been updated since it was originally posted]

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Downtown, Gangs, West Baltimore, Witness intimidation

May 7, 2010

Safe Streets reactivated; alleged gang leader pleads not guilty

A task force appointed to review the operations of a government-funded anti-violence program could not substantiate allegations that the group was taking cues from a powerful gang, but found flaws in the oversight of the Safe Streets program and recommends that control be shifted away from the city. Responding to the report, Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake lifted a funding freeze on the programs. Safe Streets - Photo by Ken Lam

The panel’s report was released the same day an alleged leader of the Black Guerrilla Family, accused of using violence outreach work as a cover for drug-dealing and gang activities, made his first appearance in federal court.

Todd Duncan, 36, pleaded not guilty to heroin conspiracy charges at a brief hearing in US. District Court. Duncan was hired through the Safe Streets process in 2007 when the non-profit Communities Organized to Improve Life was chosen to operate a West Baltimore site. Though the group’s funding was terminated a year later due to non-compliance, COIL continued to perform outreach work independently, officials said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 8:03 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: City Hall, East Baltimore, Gangs, South Baltimore, West Baltimore

May 5, 2010

Three city officers charged with kidnapping, misconduct

Three city officers were indicted Tuesday on charges that they kidnapped two West Baltimore teens last year, leaving one in a Howard County state park without shoes, socks or his cell phone, which was snapped in half and thrown out of the window on the drive there. The article is here.  This incident first surfaced last May, and the NAACP handed out a sworn statement from the teen and called for swift action. Now, a year to the day later, prosecutors handed the case to a city grand jury and secured an indictment.

Such serious charges are no slap on the wrist. The teen's attorney Dwight Pettit, who brings a number of lawsuits against the police department each year on allegations of misconduct, says State's Attorney Patricia A. Jessamy should pursue charges more often. Meanwhile, the police union is saying they're confident the officers were doing their jobs and will be vindicated. Bob Cherry, FOP president, called the charges "trumped up." 

I've heard whispers from some veteran officers that indeed, suspected offenders into other areas of the city or out of the city has been used as an unofficial intimidation tactic. Cherry wouldn't go there when I asked about it. But after my story was posted Tuesday afternoon, a writer from "The Wire" emailed me to point out that the practice was well known enough that they had incorporated it in an episode of the show. Indeed, with the help of a follower on Twitter, we traced it to season three, episode six. Here's a summary of that part of the episode:

Trade in Hamsterdam is thriving, but Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin insists that his men crack down hard on any remaining drug crews operating outside the tolerance zones. He gives Sergeant Ellis Carver free rein to use any force necessary to make the drug dealers relocate. The drug enforcement unit tows cars, delivers brutal beatings and pepper sprayings, throws away shoes and drives dealers out into the countryside to make their point. Major Colvin finds his district safer with honest people back out on the corners again, but the reality of the tolerant zones is shocking.
Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:09 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: West Baltimore

May 3, 2010

Juveniles escape; another city shooting

Some breaking news this morning: authorities are searching for one of two juvnenile who escaped from the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School Sunday night.

Police said the juveniles were reported missing from the Baltimore County detention facility about 8:45 p.m., but had escaped at around 8:25 p.m. One was captured this morning; police the one still being sought is not considered dangerous.

Meanwhile, police in Baltimore are investigating another shooting, this one on West Fayette Street. Authorities say the unidentified man was found about 12:35 a.m. lying face down in the 1500 block with a gunshot wound to the upper body. He was pronounced dead at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:36 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County, Breaking news, West Baltimore

April 22, 2010

Cameras, crime and an arrest

Talk about everything lining up the right way ... Baltimore cops on Tuesday night heard a disturbance, got out of their cars and watched one man shoot another. They chased the suspected gunman down and then learned the shooting had also been captured on video:

Detectives from the Violent Crimes Impact Division were in the 1800 block of N. Fulton Ave. in the Sandtown-Winchester community about 10:54 p.m. when they saw a disturbance, police said. The detectives got out of their vehicle and were approaching when they saw a man raise his right arm and shoot 33-year-old Kevin Hyslop in the chest at close range. The officers arrested a suspect, 33-year-old Calvin Williams, after a brief foot chase. Hyslop was pronounced dead a half-hour later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said city security cameras captured the incident.

Cameras were in the news again recently, helping to convict a man in the shooting of a 5-year-old girl in Southwest Baltimore. The images showed a gunman shooting but it was difficult to make out his face, and whether he was wearing a GPS monitoring device on his ankle. Still, that and other evidence helped jurors decide.

Around that time, prosecutors continued to criticize the camera system. In early April, State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy sent out a news release that praised the surveillance camers, but in a back-handed way. Her relelase noted that such convictions are rare, that of the 229 guilty pleas or verdicts last year in crimes captured on video, 228 were related to drugs. One was for murder.

That brings us to Page Croyder, a former veteran city prosecutor who now has her own blog, Baltimore Criminal Justice, a forum she routinely uses to criticize her former boss, Jessamy, and her chief spokeswoman, Margaret T. Burns. In her latest posting, she also takes the Baltimore Sun to task for an editorial questioning the cost of the surveillance camera system:

"But when it comes to pole cameras the editors appear to suffer from CSI syndrome, lusting for cameras so fantastic they can read license plates from outer space. ... And the editors appear to adopt the premise that unless camera videotapes can prove the identity of every criminal beyond a reasonable doubt they are not worth the investment. Sounds like they’ve been talking to Burns, but certainly not to police or prosecutors."

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, West Baltimore

April 16, 2010

February murder victim was not intended target

A 39-year-old man who was found shot to death in a West Baltimore alley in February was not the intended target of his attacker, police say in court documents.

Detectives this week charged Travis Green, 23, in connection with the killing, which occurred in the 1200 block of N. Bentalou St. in the Bridgeview/Greenlawn neighborhood, and allege in charging documents that Green was attempting to shoot a man named Juan Cortes who was walking with victim Rodney Stephens.

"Investigation revealed Juan Cortes was accompanying Rodney Stephens at the time of this incident, at which time Travis Green initially pointed the handgun at Mr. Cortes and pulled the trigger but the gun misfired," Detective Kristel D. Vallair wrote. 

Police say it wasn't the first time Green had tried to shoot Cortes, linking him to a shooting on February 2. Documents don't say why police believe Green was targeting Cortes, but both men have a history of drug charges.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:16 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: West Baltimore

April 15, 2010

Breaking: Lamont Davis convicted of attempted murder

[UPDATE: Here's today's story, discussing the courtroom reaction and Davis' attorney vowing to appeal.]

Word coming from the courthouse is that Lamont Davis has been convicted of first- and second-degree attempted murder for the shooting of 5-year-old Raven Wyatt and his intended target, Tradon Hicks. The verdicts came on the third day of deliberations in a case that involved young people, witness intimidation, changing stories and conflicting evidence. We'll update when Sun court reporter Tricia Bishop returns from the courtroom.

In March, Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton met with Raven and her family in their first interview since the shooting. Read the account and watch the clip here.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 2:54 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

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.

April 12, 2010

DEA: Gang infiltrated youth outreach work

A new federal indictment alleges the notorious Black Guerrilla Family regrouped after last year's sweeping indictments, anointing a new street leader who used his employment as a youth outreach worker as a cover. The wiretap investigation cites confidential informants who claim the program and others like it are affiliated with the BGF and exist to set gang members up with jobs to conceal their criminal activities.

Shortly after the records became public, Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake announced that she was suspending funding for Safe Streets violent intervention programs across the city. Just last month, Rawlings-Blake had committed $1 million to the East Baltimore Safe Streets program, which is not a part of the indictment but is referenced in an affidavit. Safe Streets has been credited with driving down shootings.

The central focus of Monday's indictment is Todd Duncan, a convicted murderer and alleged BGF member who works for Communities Organized to Improve Life, Inc., which runs a West Baltimore outreach center. COIL received $383,000 in federal grants in 2007 to start up a west side Safe Streets office, but their contract was terminated after about a year, officials said. Duncan was hired as part of that process and remained on board after the program was de-funded, continuing the same work.

The indictment calls more attention to the apparent resiliency of these gangs, as well as their ability to infiltrate legitimate enterprises. The Sun wrote last year about a group of educators who endorsed and taught from alleged BGF leader Eric Brown's handbook; and members of Johnny Butler's drug distribution ring that included a city firefighter trainee, a clerk with the state's attorney's office and Johns Hopkins.

Continue reading "DEA: Gang infiltrated youth outreach work" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:39 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: East Baltimore, Gangs, West Baltimore

March 29, 2010

Two murders in city; other crime in county this weekend

There were two murders in the city this weekend -- the latest Sunday night in West Baltimore when a man was found shot to death in a van in West Baltimore. Late Saturday afternoon, a 16-year-old teen was shot in the body and killed in East Baltimore.

And on Sunday afternoon, two people were shot and wounded in South Baltimore's Cherry Hill neighborhood and police were trying to determine if the incidents were related.

[Note from Justin: One of my colleagues recently told me that we are "trend killers" - that is, when we pick up on a trend and write about it, that trend abruptly ends. Last week in this space, we noted that juvenile deaths were down and the Southern District had only two shootings all year, and what did the weekend bring? The death of a 16-year-old and two shootings in the Southern...]

In Baltimore County, a man was fatally shot at an apartmen complex in Owings Mills. And in Perry Hall, police say a homeowner shot and killed a supsected intruder. The man who broke into the house, according to police, also had a gun.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:21 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Baltimore County, East Baltimore, South Baltimore, West Baltimore

March 10, 2010

Safe Surrender program planned

A fugitive "Safe Surrender" program has been tentatively scheduled for June 16 through June 19 in Baltimore, officials said at today's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting. The program has attracted thousands of fugitives to surrender in cities, including Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, and is geared toward those with nonviolent felonies, misdemeanors and traffic crimes. A legal assembly line of intake services, case review with a public defender and disposition by a judge will be provided on-site at two churches, chosen because they're seen as a calming and nonconfrontational setting. The locations were still be finalized, though officials have previously said the New Shiloh Baptist Church had agreed to host the event. Police believe 5,000 warrants can be cleared during the event.

Those who turned themselves in elsewhere noted a desire to start over, a fear of being arrested, and a desire to obtain a driver's license or to get a job. It also helps law enforcement agencies clear a staggering amount backlog of unserved warrants in the tens of thousands.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime, West Baltimore

March 1, 2010

Man with history of gun convictions charged in triple shooting

A 35-year-old man with two prior gun convictions has been arrested and charged in a triple shooting in West Baltimore last week that left one man dead. Kivi A. Kennedy was wearing his Gardiner's furniture uniform when police chased him down at the scene.

We're also trying to learn more about an incident in which a 19-year-old woman was found bound, shot and stabbed in East Baltimore. There's very little information at this stage, though we know that police have identified a "person of interest." UPDATE: Fox 45 has identified the victim as Kim Charles and interviewed a family member on last night's newscast. (The video does not appear on their site)

A 49-year-old employee of a Towson gas station was shot several times during an attempted robbery; county police are searching for a suspect, the Associated Press reports. Two other suspects are at large.

And in Cecil County, two arrested, two dead in a home invasion robbery at a farmhouse.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:21 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Baltimore County, East Baltimore, West Baltimore

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 16, 2010

Baltimore's murder-free week is over

Just yesterday, police reporter Justin Fenton tweeted:

2/15 at 10:56 am: I'm told this morning's shooting victim survived; we're working on our eighth murder-free day in a row. 17 compared w/ 30 this time last yr

This morning, we learn of two more shootings, in Northwest and West Baltimore, one of them fatal. Our murder-free week is over. A 21-year-old man was shot and killed on Woodland Avenue in Park Heights and a 30-year-old man was shot in the shoulder at a carryout on Frederick Avenue in West Baltimore. Police have identified the homicide victim as Daron Howard and said he was at his girlfriend's house when he received a call to come outside. When he stepped out, he was shot. It's the third homicide in the Northwest District this year.

Maybe we need more snow! Last week, during the second of two snow storms on Tuesday and Wednesday, we reported:

Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III just said at a city news conference that the most serious calls handled by police over the past day were two street robberies and a commercial burglary. "In the entire city, this is, like, incredible," Bealefeld said.

At the same time, such quiet stretches aren't simply the result of snow. Just last year, the city went without a homicide from Aug. 11 to Aug. 20, Aug. 2 to Aug. 9, June 10 to June 16, and May 9 to May 17, according to our records.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 8:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Breaking news, West Baltimore

February 4, 2010

Convicted murderer charged in double shooting

Thirty-four-year-old James L. Fortune knows the term "suspended sentence" well. When he was convicted of first-degree murder in 1995, he got 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended. When he violated his probation in 2004, the judge gave him 10 years but suspended just about all of it. And when he pleaded guilty to drug distribution in 2009, he again received 10 years with the balance suspended.

Now he faces charges of first-degree murder in a January 2008 double-shooting at a West Baltimore liquor store that left one man dead and another paralyzed.

Fortune, of the 1100 block of N. Mount St., was pulled over during a traffic stop in December and police found a semi-automatic handgun that has since been linked to the Jan. 24, 2008 shooting of Sidney Millner, 25, and Natavein Henry, 31, according to charging documents. Millner was shot in the neck and died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, while Henry was paralyzed from the neck down.

Detective Kirk Hastings wrote in charging documents that witnesses identified Fortune as the person responsible for the shooting, but the Dec. 7, 2009 traffic stop that uncovered the handgun provided the evidence to charge him. Fortune has been held without bond since then on charges related to that incident, court records show.

UPDATE: Prosecutors respond to Fortune's list of suspended sentences, saying that in the case of the drug conviction Fortune had completed his parole and probation and had no drug convictions. Prosecutors offered a split sentence - meaning that Fortune would serve some jail or prison time - that it was undercut by the judge with a suspended sentence offer.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 1:26 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Courts and the justice system, West Baltimore

February 3, 2010

Shooting victim ID'd

The shooting victim from this morning has been identified as Juan Tucker, 34. Tucker was found in the 2100 block of Edmondson Ave. at about 8:40 a.m. suffering from gunshot wounds to the head and body. Police said they had no suspects and no motives.

A check of court records and Sun archives shows that Tucker pleaded guilty in 2005 to witness intimidation, handgun and assault charges. Erik Johnson and Tucker, then 29, made the threats in retaliation after the witness testified against Tucker, and the men tried to persuade the witness not to testify at a murder trial. Another man received probation for taking the same witness to  Tucker's bail review hearing in an effort to scare him into recanting his identification of Tucker.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 6:58 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: West Baltimore, Witness intimidation

February 1, 2010

(Relatively) quiet January

UPDATE: As is always the way, as I was posting about the quiet January, February got started with a morning homicide. The man shot in the 2200 block of N. Monroe St. has died, spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tells me.  We'll have more information shortly.

UPDATE 2: The victim has been identified as 27-year-old John England. Police don't have a motive or any suspects, but court records show he may have recently been released from a five-year federal prison sentence.

2010 got off to a relatively good start in term's of the city's closely watched death toll. I'm trying to verify with police, but I count 12 murders in January, which would be the second-lowest January total since 1970. The lowest was 10 in 1977, with the next highest, 13, occurring twice, in 1970 and 1978.

Before you say that it must be the cold weather, keep in mind that traditionally, January is actually one of the deadliest months of the year in Baltimore. From 1999 to 2008, we averaged 24 murders in January, the fourth-deadliest behind May, June and July at about 25 each. (The lowest were February, at 17, and August and September, at 21).

There are still shootings. A man was shot in the hip at about noon on Sunday in the 1500 block of W. Lexington St., and this morning there was a report of an adult male shot in the 2200 block of N. Monroe St. However, overall shootings have been significantly trending downward and perhaps we're starting to see that even out as it relates to the homicide rate.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 10:56 AM | | Comments (26)
Categories: Confronting crime, West Baltimore

January 26, 2010

City rape investigated

Baltimore police are investigating the rape of a woman inside her home in Reservoir Hill, and are trying to determine whether it's related to a series of other attacks in recent months.

As you might remember, police are still searching for the person responsible for a series of East Baltimore assaults in which women were attacked at bus stops and raped in public places. Police have told us that in those attacks, they found the DNA profiles of at least two suspects but have not been able to make a match. After this weekend's attack, The Baltimore Sun's Liz Kay reports that police are expediting DNA and other forensic tests in their efforts to find a suspect.

Police have created a 24-hour tip line, 888-223-0033, for anyone with information on the attacks.

Here is some of Liz's story that is now posted on the Baltimore Sun's web site:

The woman was sleeping in her first-floor apartment in the 2400 block of Callow Ave. when she awoke at about 7 a.m. and saw a man standing above her, according to Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman. The man apparently came in through an open window and made his way to her bedroom, Moses said.

The woman told police that the suspect covered her mouth and sexually assaulted her, then forced her to clean herself. Police do not believe the man was armed, but Moses said the victim was unable to provide a detailed description of the suspect.

Sunday's incident seems similar to three burglary-rapes and one incidence of sodomy reported between May 2008 and November 2009, said the Police Department's chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 2:18 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Breaking news, Confronting crime, Neighborhoods, West Baltimore

January 21, 2010

The interconnected world of city crime

Two homicides, on opposite sides of the city. One is a 33-year-old who served federal prison time, owned a car shop in West Baltimore and loved to watch "The Young and the Restless" with his grandmother; another is a 38-year-old recently sprung from prison after serving nearly 20 years for a robbery-killing committed when he was 19, during which time he became a minister and helped with a scared straight program.

Sources tell the Baltimore Sun that police believe Darel Alston, 38, lent his car to the people who killed 33-year-old Marcal Walton on Jan. 3. Detectives linked the car to Alston, who then turned up dead on Jan. 10 - shot to death inside of a car.

Both men's histories involve cases that were in the news. Walton's phone had been tapped as part of an investigation into a theft ring that ultimately helped catch the killers of a Baltimore County police officer, while Alston's arrest in the killing of a tavern owner killed with an aluminum baseball bat made headlines in 1990.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 12:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Baltimore, West Baltimore

January 18, 2010

Mayhem around MLK Blvd on MLK Day

UPDATE, 8:36 PM: Police say the shooting victim is 19 years old and is in critical condition. The crime scene has also been determined to be the 600 block of W. Hoffman St.

A man was shot in the face and two men were arrested on drug charges after fleeing police in separate incidents that occurred near the route for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, according to Baltimore police.

About 2:30 p.m., after the parade had finished but with roads still shut down, an off-duty officer near the 1000 block of Pennsylvania Ave., about two blocks from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, heard gunshots.

Officers found a man inside an apartment suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, the most serious being an injury to his jaw, and he was taken by ambulance to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, police said. Authorities were looking for a silver Toyota with a driver wearing a ski mask last seen heading east on Preston Street. The victim’s age and condition were not immediately available.

Continue reading "Mayhem around MLK Blvd on MLK Day" »

Posted by Justin Fenton at 7:34 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Breaking news, Downtown, West Baltimore