12 wounded, 5 critically, by gunfire on East 21st Crowd hinders ambulances

April 11, 1993|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Staff Writer

Twelve people were shot on a Baltimore street last night a automatic weapon fire erupted during what may have been a sidewalk craps game, police said.

Five of the victims were critically injured as between 30 and 40 shots were fired about 7:45 p.m. in the 500 block of E. 21st St., said Lt. Wayne Wilson, adding that the victims ranged in age from 14 to 40.

Hundreds of people spilled into the street after the shooting stopped. The crowd that jammed the corridor of three-story brick rowhouses blocked the path of ambulances and fire engines, police said. Lieutenant Wilson called the crowd "disorderly" and "uncooperative."

Police officers from the Southern and Northern districts were called in to help Eastern District officers restore order. About 50 officers were called out, Lieutenant Wilson said, as police blocked off intersections surrounding the crime scene and cordoned off half of 21st Street between Greenmount and Boone with yellow tape.

Police arrested five people, but Lieutenant Wilson said that none was identified as a suspect in the shootings. Some were charged with disorderly conduct.

The most seriously injured were reported in surgery at area hospitals.

A spokeswoman for the Maryland Shock Trauma Center said all four victims being treated there had suffered multiple gunshot wounds. All were men, ranging in age from 20 to 26, she said.

Lieutenant Wilson said he was not certain how many gunmen were involved or whether they were driving or on foot. One witness who lives across the street said she saw three men running down the street toward Greenmount Avenue firing guns.

The victims were found sprawled on the sidewalk in front of a boarded-up rowhouse where a dice game may have been going on, Lieutenant Wilson said. He said it appeared that someone had lost a large sum of money, angrily left the game and returned with a handgun, believed to be a 9mm automatic or semiautomatic.

Police spokesman Doug Price later said that investigators had not established that gambling had been going on before the shooting.

Elisha Dunham, who lives across the street from the shooting scene, said he heard a burst of gunfire, then stepped out of his door to see people lying on the sidewalk. He said he walked across the street for a closer look, then returned to his home to call the police.

He said his daughter told him she had seen three men firing guns while running down the street from Boone Street toward Greenmount Avenue.

Mr. Dunham, 64, said he has lived on the block about 15 years and knew some of the victims, young men from the neighborhood "who were not drug types." He said it appeared to him that there had been a dice game going on where the shooting occurred.

"I'm thinking about getting away from here," said Mr. Dunham, adding that he hears gunfire just about every night. "It's getting too rough. . . . It's terrible out here now."

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