Baltimore County police today charged two men with shooting a 49-year-old teacher's aide to death in front of her grandchildren during a robbery last night behind the Value City department store at Westview Mall.
The robbery netted the men less than $10, Baltimore County police said.
The suspects, Gregory Lawrence, 34, of the first block of Sheviot Court in Woodlawn, and Wesley Baker, 33, of the 1300 block of Homestead St. in East Baltimore, were arrested shortly after the slaying. Both were being held at the Woodlawn District lockup on charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery and using a handgun in the commission of a felony. A court commissioner denied bail today pending a bail review hearing scheduled for Monday.
Police spokesman Sgt. Stephen Doarnberger identified the victim as Jane Frances Tyson, a Baltimore County teacher's aide in a federally funded program for disadvantaged children at Riverside Elementary School in Arbutus. Tyson lived in the 6500 block of Redgate Circle in Westview Park, about a mile from where she was killed.
As fellow teachers and school workers learned of her death today, they broke down and hugged each other in the halls.
One school employee sobbed, "Oh, poor Jane."
Teachers and school officials declined to talk about the victim. A crisis intervention team was at the school today helping children and teachers cope with the loss, said Richard Bavaria, spokesman for Baltimore County schools.
"Children need to understand that they are safe . . . and that adults are supportive of them," Bavaria said. A crisis intervention team also was sent to Johnnycake Elementary School, where Tyson's husband, John Tyson, is the principal.
Jane Tyson was seated behind the wheel of her Buick LeSabre at 8:30 p.m. after shopping at the mall with her two grandchildren, a boy 6 and a girl 4, when a man approached the vehicle from the driver's side, police said.
The car was parked behind the Value City department store, police said, and Tyson had purchased a pair of shoes that were lying on the front seat.
Doarnberger said Tyson was shot in the head, apparently after the gunman demanded her purse. No one other than the children witnessed the shooting, he said.
A passing motorist told police that after shooting Tyson, the gunman got into the passenger seat of a Chevrolet Blazer that was parked nearby and was being driven by another man.
Doarnberger said the Blazer sped off. The motorist followed, jotting down the vehicle's description and license plate number before returning to the mall and giving the information to police who had arrived on the scene.
Doarnberger said Tyson was removed from the car and pronounced dead by the crew of a fire department ambulance.
The children, whose names were withheld, were shaken by what they witnessed but were not injured.
Other shoppers who were on the parking lot and heard the shot ran to Tyson's car after the Blazer sped off and heard one of the children cry out, "A man shot my grandma."
Doarnberger said the children were taken by pedestrians into a store until their parents arrived.
After the vehicle's description was broadcast, Officers Frank D. Barile and Nicholas J. McGowan of the Tactical Squad were responding across Cooks Lane from Security Boulevard when they spotted a Blazer headed east on Edmondson Avenue where it splits with U.S. 40.
Officer James Conaboy of the Woodlawn District was in another police car.
Doarnberger said Barile and McGowan followed the Blazer to where it turned right onto the 500 block of Swann Ave. and slowed down in the 4600 block of Old Frederick Road, where the passenger jumped out.
That man, said Doarnberger, was immediately captured by Conaboy, who also recovered Tyson's purse and its contents that were tossed out on the sidewalk. Doarnberger said the money found amounted to less than $10.
Moments later, the Blazer stopped on the parking lot of the G&G Village Liquors & Restaurant in the 4600 block of Edmondson Ave.
Guns drawn, Barile and McGowan arrested the driver without incident and recovered a handgun that was believed to have been used in killing Tyson.
Shoppers and employees at Westview Mall today reacted to last night's shooting, the mall's second in less than 9 months.
Stephanie Alston, 20, an employee at the mall's Caldor department store, blamed the increase in crime on the construction and renovation currently under way at Westview.
"It's gotten a lot worse because there's not a lot places you can park, and only a few entrances where you can go in and out, so it's easy for someone to make you prey," Alston said. "My friend picks me up every time I work because I don't like like walking around here."
"It's gotten so crazy with all the crime that I don't want to take my kids out at night, so I have to do my errands on my lunch break," said Stefani Rubrick, 35, of Catonsville Manor, who was shopping at the mall today.
Rubrick said she doesn't think the crime surrounding Westview is much worse than that in other areas, but "that doesn't say much any more. It's getting scary everywhere," she said.
On Sept. 8, 1990, Katherine Dwyer, a city school teacher, wa walking toward her car parked at the mall lot when a man with a handgun robbed her of her purse.
Dwyer was shot in the foot.
Across the street from the mall on Sept. 17, 1990, the body of Valerie Brown, 30, a Philadelphia book saleswoman, was found lying on the hallway floor near her room at the Quality Motel on U.S. 40.
County police said Brown was shot in the chest during a robbery.
Later, a man and a woman were arrested after one of them attempted to purchase items with the Brown's credit card.
The couple recently was tried and convicted.