2 badly hurt in shooting Mid-day argument near The Block ends in gunfire

June 09, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

A midday argument on a side street near The Block erupted into gunfire yesterday as two men were seriously wounded and dozens of people ran for cover, police said.

The alleged gunman was caught after a foot chase with officers who saw him ditch a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol underneath a car on nearby Water Street, police said.

Witnesses said the shooting put Baltimore's downtown red-light district into a brief panic.

"I couldn't believe it. I heard about five shots, turned around and said, 'Oh, my God, somebody got shot,' " said Andrew Williams, who had been standing near the shooting scene on Custom House Avenue. "Then this guy went tearing through the crowd with a gun. Everybody was screaming."

Police said the shots were fired about 2:45 p.m. after the gunman and one of the victims, Christopher J. Brennan, 28, of Morton, Pa., were seen arguing near several pay telephones in the first block of Custom House Ave.

The nature of the argument was not known, police said. The men were standing about 50 feet off East Baltimore Street, near the Club Pussycat, when the gunman pulled out his weapon and fired several shots at Mr. Brennan, hitting him in the chest just above the heart and in the shoulder, investigators said.

The second victim, Robert Leslie Brown, 34, attempted to intervene when he saw Mr. Brennan being fired at, and was himself shot in the upper left chest, police said. Mr. Brown has addresses both in Chesapeake Beach, Calvert County, and in the 5000 block of Orville Ave. in Baltimore, police said.

Police said it was unclear whether the two victims were friends, or if Mr. Brown simply tried to help a man in trouble.

Witnesses reported hearing one of the men yell, "I'm hit," as the gunman ran off carrying the pistol.

John Boxdale, who was walking in the area and had heard shots, said the gunman ran past him on Water Street about a block away.

"The guy ran by me with a cop chasing him, and I saw him throw the gun underneath a car," Mr. Boxdale said. "I told the cop the gun was under the car and for him to get it before anybody else got hurt."

Police said the gun was recovered and the suspect was arrested near the intersection of South and Water streets. Jerry Reuben Ash, 18, of the 1600 block of Shadyside Road in the city, was charged with two counts of assault with intent to murder and a handgun offense. He was awaiting a bail hearing last night at the Central District lockup.

Mr. Brennan was listed in critical but stable condition, and Mr. Brown in fair condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

About 20 police officers scoured Custom House Avenue looking for evidence as more than 50 onlookers -- some from nearby eateries and others from Block nightclubs -- crowded around and watched.

"This is bad for business; we've got enough problems without people being shot here," said one Block business owner, who refused to give his name.

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