Shootout outside school leaves 1 dead, 1 injured

January 24, 1995|By Peter Hermann and Jean Thompson | Peter Hermann and Jean Thompson,Sun Staff Writers

One man was killed and a second critically wounded yesterday afternoon in a wild shootout among members of two neighborhood gangs in front of Northern High School, just as classes had ended and students were streaming out of the building.

Pronounced dead at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds was Elijah Jermaine Young, 22, of the 400 block of E. Cold Spring Lane.

Witnesses told police that after Mr. Young fell to the ground with his first wound, the gunman stood over him and fired several more shots into his body.

Also shot several times was Walter Gerald Ferguson, 21, of the 3600 block of Monterey Road, who was listed in critical but stable condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The gunfire -- at least 17 shots rang out -- sparked a scramble for safety by dozens of students and teachers who witnessed the fight on Pinewood Avenue, a street that runs between the school and an apartment complex where school buses make pickups.

Scores of city and school police and other officials, including Superintendent Walter G. Amprey, visited the scene and watched as detectives hovered over the dead man while parents and students stood nervously by.

Details were sketchy last night, but police said the shooting apparently grew out of a Friday night basketball game that was )) the scene of a brawl between the Old York Boys and another group of young men from the Dutch Village townhouse community, located near the school.

Dr. Amprey, who said his office was inundated with calls from concerned parents, was quick to point out that neither victim was a student at any Baltimore school. He said the 2:30 p.m. double-shooting represents a city problem that spills over to the city's learning institutions.

"Our schools are still safer than our streets," the superintendent said. "I can assure [parents] that their students will be as safe as they can be. We are dealing with a number of young people. There is no way to predict how they are going to act."

But Patricia Russell said she will not let her son attend any more classes at Northern High even though it is a "wonderful" school. She said her son was shot at during yesterday's fight but was not hit and ran back into the school.

"This is a nightmare," Ms. Russell said. "We send our kids to school to get educated and now we have to worry about them getting killed. Why can't kids come to school in peace? All we want is for them to learn, and they pay for it with their lives."

Ms. Russell blamed the double shooting on a long-running dispute between the Old York Boys and the group from Dutch Village, members of which she said will shoot each other simply because of a wrong look. "They are savages," she said.

Police said last night that they had received reports that gangs or other youth groups were involved in the shooting, but the investigation was continuing.

Detectives were unable to say where the shooting started, but bullet casings were found near the school's main entrance and along Pinewood Avenue for about 50 yards, to where the body of Mr. Young lay face up in the grass, under a small tree.

The second victim, Mr. Ferguson, was found about 10 feet away, slumped over the hood of a white Ford parked on the side of Pinewood Avenue. Police said he had been wounded four or five times in the chest and abdomen.

Police were searching for at least two suspects.

One young man was taken into custody and seen being led from the school in handcuffs to a waiting police car.

Investigators had not found a weapon last night, but they said at least one of the guns is believed to have been .45 caliber. A red Nissan Pathfinder, apparently owned by a basketball player and parked about 100 yards from the shooting scene, was hit twice, once in the right doorway and once in the right front tire.

The confusion over exactly what happened resulted in several different accounts from officials at the scene. At first, they reported that the two men who were shot had been shooting at one another. But two family friends told authorities that the victims were best friends, both from the Old York Road area of Baltiore.

The latest version had one man shooting another man, and then a third person grabbing the shooter. That person was then shot by a fourth man who intervened. Homicide detectives were interviewing several witnesses at police headquarters last night in an effort to ascertain what occurred.

Several students confirmed that a fight occurred after Friday night's basketball game between the Northern High Vikings and City College Knights. It was the team's first basketball game at home this year after having been forced to play elsewhere because of renovations.

"It's a shame when something like this happens because it makes people afraid to come here," said Northern High's basketball coach, Paul Holmes.

Mr. Holmes, who was conducting a practice inside the gym as police gathered outside, said he had talked with his players about the shooting.

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