Westminster killing stirs fear of future Neighbors expect worse in summer

January 31, 1993|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,Contributing Writer Staff Writer Bill Talbott contributed to this article.

The residents of South Center Street in Westminster are not looking forward to summer. With warm weather comes more outdoor activity, social gatherings -- and violence. They had an unwelcome preview last Thursday night in the shooting of Gregory Lamont Howard, 22, in the 100 block of S. Center St.

Mr. Howard, who lived in the 1600 block of Old Manchester Road, died of a shotgun blast in the chest. Police arrested Samuel A. Miller, 22, and Daniel J. Leonard, 23, both of Reisterstown, on murder charges a few hours after the killing. Both remained in the Carroll County Detention Center yesterday.

A third suspect, Timothy Cumberland, 23, of Reisterstown, was being sought late yesterday on charges of first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, conspiracy to commit murder and reckless endangerment.

Police said the killing was a result of the suspects thinking they had been cheated in a drug deal.

Mr. Howard lived with his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother about four miles south of Manchester. He was born in Baltimore and was the youngest member of the varsity swim team when he attended Walbrook High School.

After he moved to Carroll and graduated from Westminster High School, Mr. Howard joined the Navy and served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. He returned to civilian life after serving three years.

At the time of his death, he was working with a friend in a maintenance and janitorial job. He planned to attend Allegany Community College soon, his mother said Friday.

Mr. Howard liked to visit Center Street to be close to his friends and former classmates from Westminster High School, his mother said.

"I couldn't believe it," said Cherie Brown, 23, when she heard about the killing. She said she graduated from Westminster High and lives across the street from where the slaying occurred.

"It's getting bad around here," she said. "My boyfriend won't even let me go across the street to use the phone."

Her boyfriend, who declined to give his name, said he didn't really believe it when Ms. Brown used to tell him, "Things like that don't happen in Westminster."

"I'm grew up in the city [Baltimore], so I know wherever there's drugs, there's problems," he said. "I'm constantly worried. I got a family," he said as he watched his sons, 1 and 3 years old, play on the floor of their town house. "I'm scared to let my kids outside to play," he said.

"Best believe that my kids won't be playing outdoors this summer," Ms. Brown said. "They have a slide and toys up in their room. I'm not letting them outdoors," she said.

"It's getting so bad that people are ready to move," her boyfriend added.

That sentiment was shared by other residents. Two men, who both asked not to be identified, talked about relocating.

"My old lady is looking for another place for us to live right now," said one. "I work nights, and it ain't nothing to come out here at 1 o'clock in the morning and see guys walking around with automatic weapons. And the police don't do nothing."

His companion agreed. "I've lived here going on three years and it's really getting bad," he said. "I've got a 4-month-old child and I don't need it. The biggest problem is the summertime. You can't even drive down the street, there are so many people," he said.

"All we want to do is live in peace," his friend exclaimed.

Catherine Griffith, 72, has lived in the townhouses across the street from the slaying site for 10 years.

"This is the worst it's got," she said. "This last year, there has been a lot of trouble. There's so much dope.

"I had gone upstairs [Thursday night]. A friend called me to ask if I had seen the ambulance, and I looked and saw it and two or three police cars. I thought it was an automobile accident," she said.

"Last week they claim someone shot from a car over here on Charles Street. It's crazy. There are a lot of children around here. It will be warm soon. Someone's liable to get shot."

The area children are learning to be afraid, too.

India Myers, 11, a sixth-grader at East Middle School, knew about the killing and said, "I was scared." She lives in an apartment just feet away from where the fatal shooting occurred.

Her mother, who asked to be identified only as Ms. Barbara, said she fears that incidents such as the shooting teach children that violence is the answer to their problems.

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