The killer is just a punk

Wiley A. Hall 3rd

November 29, 1990|By Wiley A. Hall 3rd

There are far too many punks in this city.

So far this year, there have been 269 murders in this dark, dark city of ours and each murder has been sadder than the last.

One of the saddest occurred Sunday night when a man with a gun shot and killed a teen-ager during an attempted robbery in East Baltimore.

Police say Charles Feaster, 17, was murdered because he refused to surrender his leather Chicago Bulls team jacket to some crook who had waylaid him in an alley.

And if nobody else will say it, I will: The killer is a punk.

I have been trying since Sunday to figure this thing out and I can't. According to police, the killer was lurking in the shadows near the 900 block of N. Washington St. when two young men walked by.

Feaster, who attended Mervo High School and lived in the 2600 block of Jefferson St., wore a gold chain and the jacket, so the bad man decided to strike.

This is one of the things I cannot understand.

Had the killer gone there, armed and dangerous, looking for sportswear?

Or money?

Or was he just standing there in the dark with a gun when he developed a sudden passion for Feaster's leather jacket?

I asked police if there is a thriving black market in team jackets here, because although murder for profit is reprehensible, it is at least conceivable.

Drug addicts, for instance, do crazy things to get money for drugs. They sell their bodies. They steal from their parents. Drug addicts could kill for a jacket.

But profit apparently was not a motive in Sunday's slaying.

Police told me there is no such black market. The odds are very, very slim, police said, that the killer could sell the jacket for money.

Then, there are crimes of passion.

People fly into uncontrollable rages -- usually against people they love -- and they grab guns or knives or blunt instruments and they kill.

Crimes of passion are crazy crimes, but history is full of such craziness. But Sunday's killer apparently was not in a rage, and he apparently did not know his victims, one of whom was wounded in the attack.

And that has been my problem. Team jackets, by any conceivable stretch of the imagination, are not worth killing over.

Unless you are a punk.

A punk is a jerk and a sissy and a wimp, a loser who is so lacking in character that he is beneath contempt. A punk is a pathetic, soulless, person who is so detestable that even a saint would be tempted to give him a good kick in the rear.

Yes, a punk could kill for such a jacket and for no better reason than to wear it as his own.

Team jackets are nice. They are warm and comfortable, and when you wear them you feel like an athlete. You feel like Michael Jordan. This team jacket was leather. Police estimated it cost about $250.

A punk could wear somebody else's jacket and feel good about himself. A punk could strut down the street and feel that he has won the admiration of his friends. A punk might even fantasize that passers-by are mistaking him for Michael Jordan.

Baltimore is full of people who take things that do not belong to them for no better reason than to pretend that they are better than they are. The city has one of the highest crime rates in the country. At one time, we led the nation in auto thefts -- and the majority of those thefts involved teen-agers who were out joy-riding.

In fact, Sunday's murder of Charles Feaster was not the first time a teen has been robbed at gunpoint over a team jacket or expensive tennis shoes.

There are far too many punks in this city.

Shortly after the shooting, police arrested Anthony Russell Jones, 21, of the 1400 block of Holbrook St. and charged him with first-degree murder and armed robbery.

The suspect, police said, had been wounded when his gun went off during a struggle with his intended victims. He was arrested at Union Memorial Hospital where he went for treatment of a gunshot wound to the arm.

If this case follows form, prosecutors will paint the suspect as a cold, remorseless killer; a cunning wolf of the streets; a man without pity.

But that will be entirely too kind.

Anyone who would kill for a jacket and a gold chain is not a man without pity. He is a pitiful man.

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