2 killed, 1 hurt in Catonsville barbershop Police suspect robbery as motive

November 29, 1992|By Frank Lynch | Frank Lynch,Staff Writer

A Catonsville barber and a customer were killed and anothe customer was critically wounded yesterday when a gunman entered a neighborhood barbershop and began shooting, Baltimore County police said.

James Ernest Brodie, 58, a retired school custodian who had operated a barber shop for many years, died at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center shortly after the 6 a.m. shooting. Michael Selwyn Peters Jr., 20, of the 4400 bock of Kathland Ave. in Woodlawn, died in the barber chair where Mr. Brodie had been giving him a haircut, police said.

The second customer remained in critical condition at Shock Trauma. Police would not release his name pending notification of his family.

Police said that although they had no suspect, they believe robbery was the motive. An Amoco gas station next to Mr. Brodie's shop in the 400 block of Winters Lane was held up shortly before midnight, and police were not ruling out the possibility that the same man was responsible for both.

The killings shocked and angered neighbors in the quiet commercial area. Bill Cook, who runs an instrument repair shop across the street and said he had known Mr. Brodie for 30 years, described the barber as "a hard-working, regular type individual who was well-liked by everyone."

"It's such a shame when a man spends all his life working hard and some clown comes in and does something senseless," he said.

Neighbors said that the barbershop was popular in the neighborhood, and that Mr. Brodie would frequently open at odd hours to accommodate his regular customers.

According to Mr. Cook, Mr. Brodie had worked as a custodian in the Baltimore County school system and had once been chief custodian at what is now Catonsville Middle School.

A few hours after the shooting, three youths stood outside the tan one-story building that housed the barbershop where they had frequently gotten haircuts.

Sean Bacon, 15, and his two cousins, Terrell and Aaron Holly, ages 11 and 8 respectively, described Mr. Brodie as a kindly man who was popular with children.

In Woodlawn, a neighbor of Mr. Peters expressed shock at the young man's death.

"Michael was not one to hang out" and "never was in any kind of trouble," said Sherman Jackson, who lives across the street from the victim's family. He described the victim as a quiet young man.

The incident in the barbershop was one of two fatal attacks reported in Baltimore County overnight.

In another incident, shortly before midnight Friday, two men broke into an apartment in the 6600 block of English Oaks Road in Towson and killed 34-year-old Ralph Joseph Spencer with a handgun.

An unidentified woman in the apartment was also shot. She was flown to Shock Trauma, where she was in critical condition with a head wound.

Police said an argument ensued before the assailants shot and killed Mr. Spencer, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police have no suspects.

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