Tense Oakenshawe looking for answers

June 02, 1994|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Sun Staff Writer

For more than a year, residents of Oakenshawe have talked about hiring private security or patrolling the North Baltimore neighborhood themselves to battle crime that frequently rattles the peace. Nothing ever came of the debate.

"I think this time is the time," said resident and daylight mugging victim Jeanne Krause.

Time has brought two homicides in two weeks to the area east of the Johns Hopkins University and more than 100 residents met last night to try to figure out whether private guards, volunteer patrols or a combination of the two is an answer.

"This meeting is about what we can do and what we're willing to do," said Michael Jankowski, president of the Oakenshawe Improvement Association. What Oakenshawe is willing to do will be announced in about two weeks, Mr. Jankowski said.

On May 14, William H. McClain, 77, a retired Hopkins German professor, was attacked and robbed outside his front door on Oakenshawe Place. He hit his head in a fall and died two days later.

On Saturday, Baltimore attorney Marvin B. Cooper, 45, was robbed and fatally shot in Guilford, across the street from his Oakenshawe home. Police had no suspects in the case last night.

Two years ago, Guilford residents hired a private security service in response to car thefts and burglaries. Stuart Brooks of the Guilford Association touted the project's effectiveness last night to his anxious neighbors in Oakenshawe.

"Do we stop crime? Absolutely," Mr. Brooks said. "We have 325 people signed up, and it costs them $5 a week. Our security people passed that corner [where Marvin Cooper was killed] 15 minutes before the crime and didn't see anyone there. If he'd been part of our program, he could have called ahead to say when he was coming home, and our people would have been waiting to see him in."

The meeting of the Oakenshawe Improvement Association, held in an auditorium at Union Memorial Hospital, was attended by police Maj. Margaret Patten, commander of the Northern District, and the two homicide detectives who investigated the slaying of Dr. McClain.

Major Patten stressed using the 911 emergency number to alert police to suspicious activity. One resident asked Major Patten whether there was any specific thing that either of the recent slaying victims could have done once they were confronted by their attacker.

"The best thing to do is cooperate," she said. "But I'm not saying that's going to get you through."

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