Gunfire ended, a block gets back to business

March 08, 1992|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,Staff Writer

An article in The Sun yesterday incorrectly reported charges against a 15-year-old boy arrested in a drug raid Friday in the 600 block of Baker Street in Baltimore as being the same as those lodged against four adults. In fact, the boy was charged as a juvenile and is being detained at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School for juvenile offenders.

The Sun regrets the error.

A drug raid in which shots were fired had occurred fewer than 18 hours earlier, and the eerie calm that usually follows was uncharacteristically brief.

By midday yesterday, residents in the 600 block of Baker Street gathered as always on the front porch steps as music blared and children played nearby with toy guns.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Another custom was followed, too. Several yards away, young men in their late teens stood near the Baker Street house that police had raided and asked passers-by if they wanted to buy drugs.

Despite hawking their goods in hushed tones, none of the young men seemed overly concerned about police or too cautious about who their customers were.

"It's sure enough good, too, my man," one young dealer said, smiling broadly to a prospect.

Every few minutes a passer-by stopped to talk with the young dealers. And occasionally the dealer and passer-by would walk away together for a few minutes.

"That's how it is around here. This neighborhood lives from day to day and doesn't dwell about the past," said Sharif Washington, who has lived in the area for five years. "There was a drug raid that happened here last night. So what can we do about it?"

The upbeat mood in the West Baltimore community was no different than it had been before the raid. Although drug raids are not a common occurrence there, Friday night's event was not totally unexpected either, some residents said.

"It's like you see the police pull people up all the time for some reason or the other," Carmen Albert said as she sat on steps near the raided house. "Sometimes those police do it for no reason."

Late Friday night, plainclothes members of the police Special Tactics and Operations unit raided a second floor apartment in the three-story Baker Street house and were met with gunfire from five people in the apartment.

Officer David C. Cheuvront, 24, a four-year police veteran, was shot once in the foot.

The officer was treated for his injury at University Hospital and released. No other injuries were reported.

Police confiscated 107 vials of powdered cocaine and 50 vials of crack cocaine, said Agent Arlene K. Jenkins, a police spokeswoman.

Police also recovered a 9mm handgun, a .380-caliber pistol and $600.

Agent Jenkins said the raided apartment was used as a "wholesale" house for supplying street drug dealers at the Gilmore Homes public housing development.

Arrested in the raid were Germon Johnson, 20, of the 800 block of North Castle Street; Gary Matthews, 24, of the 1700 block of North Carey Street; Donald Brown, 20, of the 800 block of North Broadway; James Harris, 25, of the 1900 block of West North Avenue; and a 15-year-old boy. All were charged with six counts of handgun violations, four counts of assault with intent to murder a police officer and eight counts of drug violations.

None of the five people arrested lived in the apartment and all were taken to the Western District police lockup where they were awaiting a bail hearing, police said.

Officer Cheuvront said he carried the battering ram used to smash the apartment door.

"As soon as I rammed it and forced it open, I heard gunfire," Officer Cheuvront said.

"The idea is to get in as quickly as you can. I was on the ground and there was still some shooting going on."

One man said he heard the shooting but paid it little mind, thinking it "just the boys in alley" shooting at each other.

"When you hear shots you tend to think about if you offended anybody," said Earl Johnson, who lives nearby on Carey Street.

Many residents said drug use and prostitution have taken over much of Pennsylvania Avenue.

"Any night you go near Gold and Pennsylvania you always see a big crowd. Always. Day or night, hot or cold, they are always on the corner or on the strip," said Daniel Rogers, who lives in the 500 block of Baker Street.

He said the crowd near Baker Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (( swelled considerably yesterday.

"It brought some attention to the neighborhood," he said. "I guess the people on the corners thought it was going to bring more business for them. It may have."

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