New York arrest reopens a wound in Baltimore

January 21, 1992|By John Rivera and Roger Twigg ~

At Tiffany Square in West Baltimore, the flowers were gone and the ground was barren yesterday.

Little was there except a red sign to remind passers-by that the triangular island at Rosedale Street and Bloomingdale Road is dedicated to 6-year-old Tiffany Smith, killed nearby last July when she was caught in the middle of a gunbattle between two men.

But around the corner, in a rowhouse in the 3000 block of West North Avenue, her family remembers and mourns.

And yesterday's news that a second man had been arrested in her death reopened wounds that were just starting to heal.

Her parents, Charlene Miller and Troy Smith, were still too shaken to talk about the arrest of Arthur Felton, 19, who was taken into custody Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"This has just upset them all over again," said Tiffany's aunt, Darlene Miller.

Mr. Felton, who had been charged with first-degree murder in a warrant, was arrested at 12:30 p.m. after New York City detectives received information that he was living with a sister in Brooklyn.

He was arrested at her house without incident and was being held last night at the 77th precinct in New York without bail pending a hearing on his extradition to Maryland, police said.

Tiffany was shot at 10:40 p.m. July 9, just three weeks shy of her seventh birthday, as she played in the 1800 block of Rosedale Street, around the corner from her house. Witnesses told police that two men began arguing and then walked to opposite ends of the block.

A man who police believe was Mr. Felton began firing several shots at the other man, who was now standing almost a block away.

The other man then returned fire with a 9mm handgun.

One of those bullets struck Tiffany in the head. She died about zTC 40 minutes later at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The next day, Guy Bernard Wilson, 20, of Severna Park, surrendered to homicide detectives at police headquarters, accused by police of firing the shot that killed Tiffany.

Mr. Wilson remains in custody, facing trial on charges of first-degree murder and a felony handgun violation.

Tiffany's murder shocked the city and galvanized her West Baltimore neighborhood to fight the drugs and violence that plagued it.

The community dedicated the small, triangular island to the girl's memory, naming it Tiffany Square and planting it with bright red and pink flowers.

Residents took up push brooms and joined city crews in a neighborhood clean-up.

Community organizers vowed to pull the residents together and to provide more recreational opportunities for area youth.

Yesterday, the flowers had become victims of the cold, blustery winter. The ground was littered with paper and several empty bottles.

But her family said they visit Tiffany Square often and try to keep it clear of trash. "We pass it every day," said another aunt, Ruth Miller.

"Every time we see that square, it just reminds us of Tiffany."

The family remains angry over the girl's death. Getting through the holidays without her was especially painful, Ms. Miller said.

"I'm just glad that he's been caught," Ms. Miller said of the arrest in Brooklyn. "And I hope justice will be done. That's all."

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