Police hope for witness to get break in slaying of 10-year-old Boy was playing when he was shot in exchange of gunfire

November 15, 1993|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

A week and a half after 10-year-old Tauris Johnson was killed in a drive-by shooting in his East Baltimore neighborhood, city police are still waiting for a break, hoping a witness will come forward.

Despite talking to several dozen people, city detectives say they have little information about the person who shot Tauris as he tossed a football in front of his home in the 1700 block of E. Oliver St.

That's frustrating because police believe that there were numerous witnesses to the shooting and that neighborhood residents may have known either the shooter or the intended victim, said Detective Christopher P. Graul, who is leading the investigation.

Though murder witnesses often are reluctant to talk to police for fear of reprisal, the murder of a child often prompts people to come forward, Detective Graul said.

"You would think the neighborhood and the community as a whole would say, 'Hey, this is crazy,' " Detective Graul said.

"It's frustrating," he said. "It's a 10-year-old boy, and he wasn't selling drugs. He didn't have a handgun. He was playing football."

Tauris was playing catch with a friend in front of his house about 5:30 p.m. Nov. 4 when a black compact car, possibly a Ford Escort, came racing south on North Regester Street, which is one-way northbound.

At Regester and Crystal Avenue, one of the men in the car began firing out of the window at a young man on the sidewalk, police said.

The intended victim was not hit and returned fire with a handgun. Witnesses said he began firing at the car as it sped down the street with the gunman inside still shooting, police said.

Tauris, standing at the northwest corner of Oliver and Regester, was shot in the head and died three hours later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Police have completed long interviews with about a dozen people. They also have chased down a few tips about possible sightings of the car.

It remains unclear how many intended victims there were or how many people were in the car, Detective Graul said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the homicide unit at 396-2100.

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