Helen Carter hung clothes on a line outside her Eastport Terrace apartment yesterday, one day after her cousin, Sylvester Wayne Johnson, was found shot to death in his car just outside the Annapolis housing project.
"I feel very sad today," Carter said. "He was 22. He hadn't even lived. I like living here, but I'm afraid to go out sometimes for fear of getting hit. We gotta do something. We gotta get together and love one another, that's what I think."
Her feelings were echoed everywhere in Eastport Terrace yesterday, one day after Johnson became the latest victim of escalating violence in the city. Johnson, of the 200 block Pindell Avenue, was gunned down in a driveway on President Street, directly across from the mainentrance to Eastport Terrace.
Sources in city government said Johnson was a former police drug informant, but the police said they were unsure whether his death was drug-related. Investigators yesterday were still looking for one or two gunmen in the slaying.
At a Saturday news conference, Alderman Samuel Gilmer, D-Ward 3, proposed putting fences around the city's housing projects and hiring private guards to keep drug dealers out. Yesterday, Eastport Terrace residents and city officials said they had mixed feelings about Gilmer's proposal.
Helen Carter said she supports Gilmer's plan. Eunice Makell, whowas waiting for a bus with her young son, agreed. "It don't make sense, all these hoodlums in here shooting, and they don't even live here," Makell said.
Other residents, however, said it reminded them of slavery and prisons. "It's crazy," said David White. "These people ain't going to go for it. I don't do drugs, and no one's going to puta fence around me."
Some residents said fences wouldn't work -- that people inside the projects were responsible for much of the drug trafficking. They did say, however, they would welcome more police patrols in their neighborhood.
Carrie Dickerson, president of the anti-drug Planning Action Committee for Eastport Terrace and Harbour House, supports Gilmer's plan and said city officials also should consider a curfew for teen-agers. She said the city should set up suggestion boxes to get residents' input. "We've got to try and solve this problem," she said. "I just don't believe what's happening."
Gilmer said he proposed sealing off public housing to "get everyone thinking." He said the response he's gotten from public housing residents hasbeen mostly positive, and he urged people not to reject the idea before considering it.
Harold Greene, executive director of the Annapolis Housing Authority, said he didn't think Gilmer's idea would work in Annapolis. He said the idea has worked in places with high-rise buildings, like Chicago. But he said it would be costly and difficult to do in Annapolis' garden-style apartment buildings and town houses,which are located on public roads.
Greene said the housing authority plans to install a card-access system at building entrances in Harbour House, the city's largest public housing development, and in other communities. He also hopes to open a police precinct in Harbour House with federal Housing and Urban Development grant money the agency won last year.
"My plan is to have a constant police presence," Greene said. "We'll start with Harbour House and see how it works, then go to HUD for additional money."
Greene and Deputy Director Roger "Pip" Moyer met with Police Chief Harold Robbins and City Administrator Michael Mallinoff last week to begin work on the plan.
Another news conference participant, the Rev. Leroy Bowman of the First Baptist Church on West Washington Street, urged ministers to adopt public housing communities and work with them. Bowman said his church plans to adopt College Creek Terrace and Obery Court on nearby Clay Street.
Another proposal called for a drug-free shelter, or halfway house, for people to live in after leaving drug treatment programs. The shelter would delay the time when addicts would have to return to drug-infested communities.
This week, Alderman Carl Snowden, D-Ward5, and former Mayor Dennis Callahan called for a new police unit like the defunct Delta Force, which fought street-level drug-dealing in public housing until it was disbanded in 1989. Snowden and Callahan said drug-related violence began to increase one year ago, shortly after the unit was dissolved.
Mayor Alfred Hopkins also has come forward with proposals, including a stronger anti-loitering law and a newanti-drug program that will be announced next week.
Annapolis hada record five homicides in 1990, up from three in 1989, and officials fear the violence will continue.
Last week, Dominic T. Boston, 23, of the 200 block of Openview Lane in Annapolis, was seriously injured when he was hit by a bullet from a gun battle between three Washington men and a 17-year-old boy on Bowman Court. Police have made no arrests in that incident.
Less than a month ago, two men stepped from a taxi and gunned down Darryl Downs, 18, in the Bywater Mutual Homes section of Annapolis. One man turned himself in and another is still being sought in the Dec. 20 killing.