Street gunbattle over drugs claims another bystander

October 10, 1991|By S. M. Khalid

Like several other residents of East Baltimore's Barclay Street corridor, Maxine Dudley said, she and her family had grown used to the almost nightly sound of gunfire in a neighborhood that is the scene of heavy drug trafficking.

"You can sit on the steps and hear it all the time," Mrs. Dudley said in the living room of her row house in the 1800 block of Barclay Street. "You can sit in your house and hear it all the time. You get used to it."

Despite hearing and seeing shooting on the streets of her neighborhood, Mrs. Dudley had never known anyone that had been shot. Until Tuesday night, when her 24-year-old daughter, Linda Renae Seward, was shot and killed about a block from their home as she walked with her sister.

Now Mrs. Dudley, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1976, will have to raise her daughter's 2-year-old son, Sheldon.

"The hard part will be trying to explain to him where his mother is," said Mrs. Dudley, holding back tears. "She was my baby."

Karen Dudley, 28, who was walking with her sister Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m., said that she was the victim of cross fire between a drug dealer and two disgruntled customers in the 1700 block of Latrobe Street.

She said two men confronted the alleged dealer, complaining that he had "burned" them -- sold poor-quality or phony drugs. The sisters saw the two men chase the third man into a row house, then re-emerge and start shooting north up Latrobe Street.

"I heard one shot and she called out my name," Ms. Dudley said. "She died right in my arms. We walked right into the shooting, not knowing it was going to break out."

Homicide detectives said Ms. Seward, who was hit once in the chest, was "not the intended victim."

Police said the gunman fled on East Lanvale Street and escaped. Homicide detectives arrested David William Johnson, 22, of the 1600 block of Latrobe Street last night and charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting of Ms. Seward.

Ms. Dudley and other family members said the situation in their neighborhood is worsening.

"It's just getting out of hand," said Annette Dudley, 28, another sister of the victim. "There are a lot of drug guys. They sell drugs in this neighborhood all the time. There's a lot of shooting around here."

The Dudleys live the Greenmount West Neighborhood, part of an area designated as Zone 1 by the Eastern District drug enforcement unit.

There have been 35 drug-related shootings in Zone 1 so far this year -- the most of any of the seven designated drug zones in the Eastern District.

Ms. Seward was the fifth person to be shot to death when caught in the line of fire of a street gunbattle in Baltimore since July.

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