Sisters mourned at funeral Havre de Grace women slain in gun shop holdup.

October 22, 1991|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Evening Sun Staff

"We are full of grief and confusion," the Rev. Paul J. Henry said today. "But we must be a people who can still say, 'This is a beautiful city,' " he told those attending funeral services in Havre de Grace for two elderly sisters slain Friday during the robbery of a sporting goods shop.

Bessie Urban Mitchell, 73, of Havre de Grace, owner of the Sportsman's Center, and her sister, Emily Urban Hamby, 75, of Aberdeen, were killed shortly before 1 p.m. Friday after at least one gunman entered the store at Legion and Ostego streets. Police say that about $150 in cash and an undetermined number of guns were taken during the robbery.

Henry, speaking at St. Patrick's Church during a joint mass of Christian burial, urged those in attendance to look for support in their faith. "This is something we have been plunged into," he said.

About 50 people gathered at St. Patrick's for the service. The Rev. James L. Burcham said thoughts of vengeance were not unnatural. "But that's not really the way," he said.

"When I heard what happened I was extremely angry," Burcham said. "I was really asking God to give me some kind of understanding about why in the world and how in the world this could have happened."

The killings stunned many longtime residents. "You never dream of it happening here," said Freeda McClure, who lived next door to Mitchell and had known her for about 30 years.

Mitchell was "a woman who would do anything for anyone," McClure said.

"I feel our community has been violated," Henry said during the services. "Pray for the people who were the perpetrators of such a crime," he said.

The Sportsman's Center has been a fixture in Havre de Grace, a historic city of about 9,000 residents, for two decades. Mitchell took over the store last year after the death of her husband. Her sister helped run it.

After two break-ins earlier this year, friends and relatives tried to talk Mitchell into selling the business.

Investigators responding to a tip received yesterday have begun searching for a gray 1970s-model Chevrolet Camaro that may have been involved in the robbery, according to Chuck Jackson, a State Police spokesman. He said today that police have not yet found a car matching the description, which was provided by witnesses in the area of the store at the time of the crime.

The driver of the Camaro was a white male in his mid-30s with light-colored hair, witnesses said.

Since the robbery, police have been trying to determine how many guns were taken. Jackson said investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were focusing on about 40 handguns that were unaccounted for. He added that only about 10 guns may have been stolen, and the rest seemed to be unaccounted for because of missing paperwork.

Jackson said investigators would continue to search for clues "until we feel comfortable that we have gathered as much information as we can."

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