Car seized, crashed kids inside Theft followed shooting incident

suspects sought

August 30, 1993|By Laura Lippman and John Rivera | Laura Lippman and John Rivera,Staff Writers

A woman leaving church was dragged at gunpoint from her car yesterday by two men who drove away in the vehicle with her three young daughters and nephew still inside.

The men were fleeing a shooting in the 1100 block of North Gilmor St. that sent a man to Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The men crashed the car near Lafayette Market, about five blocks from the shooting scene, and ran, leaving the children behind.

The children were not injured in the incident, and the men remained at large last night.

The incident, which began after 1 p.m. yesterday, started as a street dispute among five men, but escalated into a string of felonies, from attempted murder to carjacking, aggravated assault and abduction.

Police said four men confronted Clarence Bunch, 27, of West Baltimore near the intersection of Gilmor Street and Riggs Avenue. One of the men shot Mr. Bunch twice in the abdomen with a handgun.

Police found at least eight .45-caliber automatic pistol shells at the scene, including one that pierced the hood of a parked car.

Although initial police reports indicated the men had been quarreling over a woman, Agent Doug Price, later said that a motive for the shooting had not been determined.

After being shot, Mr. Bunch staggered away, seeking refuge in a house in the block, as the four men fled. Mr. Bunch later was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was in serious but stable condition last night.

Meanwhile, two of his assailants -- including the one who had the gun -- tried to commandeer a car driven by Gilbert Barnes, 68, of Northeast Baltimore.

Mr. Barnes refused to let the men take his car, speeding away as the gunman fired at least one shot at his automobile.

The two men then saw Rochelle Smith-Howard, 29, also of Northeast Baltimore, in her Chevrolet Nova. Police said She was going home from church with the four children: daughters Tierra Smith, 9, Brittany Howard, 6, and Kenya Howard, 3; and her nephew, Javon Williams, 3.

Brandishing the weapon, the men dragged Ms. Smith-Howard from the car, but made no attempt to remove the children.

"All I know is he came from around the corner, and I was stopped at the stop sign. And he took my children. It was devastating," Ms. Smith-Howard said.

"He put [the gun] in my face and he said, 'Get out of the car! Get out of the car!'" she said. "I looked back at my children. I just got out and he just got in. . . . I couldn't do anything. If I sped off, he probably would have shot at me.

"I fell in the street and he just left. I chased him for a little bit, but he just left," she said.

The men took off at high speed, crashing the car about five blocks away, outside the Lafayette Market.

"The children said he didn't hurt them, but he told them to shut up," Ms. Smith-Howard said. "The oldest, my 9-year-old, kept screaming for help."

The men then ran away, abandoning the car. The children were still in the Nova when police arrived.

When police officers brought the children back to her, "I just hugged them and kissed them and said 'thank the Lord,' " Ms. Smith-Howard said.

Last night, hours after the carjacking, Ms. Smith-Howard said the children were still shaken.

"I have one that still acts like she's in a state of shock. My 3-year-old, she just wants me to hold her," she said. "My 6- and 9-year-olds, they're starting to talk about it, saying what he told them."

Police said they are looking for four men in connection with the attempted murder of Mr. Bunch.

In addition, the two men who accosted Mr. Barnes and Ms. Smith-Howard are wanted on suspicion of attempted carjacking, carjacking, aggravated assault and abduction.

They had a description for one of the men, the one with the handgun. Police said he was black, wearing a dark T-shirt and beige shorts. Witnesses were not sure of his age, but said he had a "fade" haircut.

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