A knock on the door, then gunshots rang out Mistaken identity cost innocent woman's life.

March 12, 1991|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff

Friends of Tambra Dove, who was fatally shot by a gunman who mistook her for her friend, say they cannot believe the way the 22-year-old beautician, described as friendly and a caring mother, died.

"I'm just upset," Frederick Herd, 25, the father of Dove's 5-year-old daughter, said yesterday. "But what can I do? It's not going to bring her back."

Dove, of Curtis Bay, was killed Sunday night by a man police said mistook her for a woman with whom he's been feuding for about six years. The nature of the feud is unclear.

The gunman knocked on the door of a house Dove was visiting and shot her when she answered.

John Garbutt, 51, who lives three doors from where the shooting occurred in the 1100 block of Wicomico St., was being held at the Southern District lockup without bail on first-degree murder and weapons charges, police said last night.

In 1961, Garbutt was convicted of killing a 55-year-old Carroll County grocer during a holdup. He was sentenced to life in prison, escaped in 1976 and was recaptured in 1978 in North Carolina. He was paroled from the Maryland prison system in 1984.

"An innocent girl has died over nothing," said David Herd, 22, Frederick Herd's brother.

Funeral arrangements for Dove were unclear. Because she had no insurance, her family and friends are appealing to the public for help. They ask that those who want to contribute to call 685-2861 or mail donations to David Herd, 1129 Wicomico St., Baltimore 21207.

According to friends and police, about 7 p.m. Sunday Dove arrived at Frederick Herd's house to pick up her two-year-old son and daughter.

"We were all sitting in the front room," David Herd said. "Some of us were watching TV and some were talking. She was on the edge of the couch and Freddie was beside her."

About 7:45 p.m., someone knocked at the door. Believing friends were coming to return a music tape, Dove answered, witnesses said. A shot rang out and a bullet struck Dove in the chest.

"She turned around and said, 'I'm bleeding. I'm bleeding. Help me Freddie,' " recalled Frederick Herd. As he kicked the front door closed, the gunman began firing at the door lock, he said.

Frederick Herd said he pushed Dove on the floor to get her out of the line of fire, then got the children out of harm's way. Amber, 5, shouted, " 'That man shot my mommy,' " Frederick Herd said.

Frederick Herd said he returned to the front room and saw a man stand over Dove and shoot her at least five times in the head.

Witnesses said that after the shooting, the man tossed the weapon on the street and ran to his home nearby.

Yesterday afternoon, white chalk outlined where the .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle landed in the street.

Inside 1133 Wicomico St., blood was visible on the brown carpet. Outside the rowhouse, nine yellow circles indicated where spent shell casings fell.

Witnesses said that the gunman may have confused Dove with Vickie Witt, with whom he had been feuding for years, because the women wore their blond hair in similar style.

About two hours before the shooting, Garbutt and Witt had argued and he threatened to kill her, witnesses said.

Witt could not be reached for comment.

Dove's friends said she did not know the suspect or Witt, who moved from the 1100 block of Wicomico St. about six months ago.

They also said that police did not respond fast to calls of a man standing on a stoop and loading bullets from a cup into a rifle and making death threats.

Dennis Hill, a police spokesman, said police responded "within three minutes of the initial call. There were a whole bunch of [calls]. We came as quickly as we could."

Garbutt's wife, Deborah Garbutt, 37, heard the rifle shots as she tried to call police. She, too, could not explain the feud.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.