Three people were slain in separate incidents early today and last night in the city and another died in a fire that investigators said they suspected was deliberately set.
The dead included a man shot by an undercover narcotics officer, a gospel radio personality whose house was apparently set on fire, a cab driver who was stabbed in the neck during a robbery and a man who was fatally wounded during a shootout between rival motorcycle gangs.
The killings brought the number of city homicides to 126, compared to 113 at this time last year.
In East Baltimore around 10 p.m., undercover narcotics officers driving in the 1600 block of N. Durham St. noticed several males in an alley, apparently conducting a drug deal, police said.
Lt. Robert Stanton of the homicide squad said that when the men spotted the unmarked police car they bolted into the rear of a Durham Street house. The officers got out of the car and gave chase, Stanton said.
Stanton said Officer Gerald Hensley, 29, of the Eastern District's drug enforcement unit, was standing outside the back of the house when he saw a man standing in the kitchen holding a handgun.
"The man was illuminated by a kitchen light and it was easy to see he was armed," said Stanton.
Hensley warned his fellow officers that the man had a gun and ran to the front of the house in time to see a man flee the dwelling and run down the street, Stanton said. That man remains at large.
Turning back toward the house, Hensley reported he saw an armed man standing in the front doorway.
bTC Stanton said Hensley ordered the man to "freeze," but the man refused to drop the gun.
The gunman turned as though to shoot Hensley, Stanton said, but Hensley fired two shots from his 9mm handgun, striking the man in the right chest and right side.
The man, who so far remains unidentified, died shortly before midnight at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Stanton said.
The gun turned out to be a Tech-9 9mm semiautomatic with 22 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, Stanton said.
Stanton said Hensley had returned to duty April 28 after he was shot twice during a raid in the 900 block of N. Duncan St. on April 23.
After the shooting, police entered the house and arrested two adult males and a teen-ager, and confiscated a loaded .38-caliber revolver. A search of the house failed to turn up any drugs.
Stanton said the three suspects were to be charged with weapons violations and were being held at the Eastern District.
A short time later, Katherine "Kitty" Broady, 69, was killed and two people, including a 13-year-old boy, were injured in a two-alarm fire in an apartment building in West Baltimore. A fire official said the blaze appeared to have been deliberately set.
The body of Broady, who owned the three-story house at 3705 Liberty Heights Ave., was found by firefighters on the floor of her second-floor bedroom.
Broady had been on several gospel radio stations over the years and most recently had a gospel program on radio station WBGR.
Capt. Robert Hatoff, of the fire investigation bureau, said it appeared that Broady was overcome by smoke as she tried to reach the bedroom door. She was pronounced dead at the scene, he said.
Two tenants, Mary Ruffin, 69, and her nephew, Anthony Ruffin, were taken to Sinai Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, Hatoff said. Ruffin's daughter also lived in the apartment but was not home during the blaze, according to family members.
A fourth tenant, Louis Fuell, 25, who lived on the first floor, fled the building without injury when the smoke detector went off shortly after someone banged on the front door and said the back of the house was aflame.
"Almost anybody who knows gospel in Baltimore knows about Kitty Broady. That name means gospel. She will definitely be missed," said Evelon Winborn, who lived near Broady and said she had followed her career "for years."
The fire, which was reported at 11:54 p.m. and went to two alarms in less than 15 minutes, was declared under control shortly after 1 a.m. today, Hatoff said.
Hatoff said evidence found in the back of the house near the porch indicated that the fire had been deliberately set. He said a motive for the fire was unknown and that no arrest had been made.
Hatoff said the fire caused an estimated $70,000 to the frame dwelling and another $10,000 to its contents.
At about 2:30 a.m. today in the city's Pimlico section of northwest Baltimore, Diamond Cab Co. driver Lyle Roberts Jr., 56, of the 3600 block of Garrison Blvd., father-in-law of attorney and former Circuit Court judge William Murphy Jr., was found collapsed in the street near his a taxi in the 2900 block of W. Belvedere Ave., police said.
Roberts, apparently the victim of a robbery, was stabbed once in the neck inside the cab, police said. He died at the scene.
Police said a butcher knife with an 11-inch blade was found lying on the hood of the taxi. Investigators believe the victim pulled the knife from his neck and dropped it there.