Many refuse to abandon their steps after killing

April 18, 1995|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers Robert Hilson Jr., Art Kramer and Jim Haner contributed to this article.

James Doswell returned to his job of fixing and washing cars yesterday, undaunted by the Easter Sunday shootout along Normal Avenue that left his friend lying dead in a garage entrance.

"I don't know what to think," Mr. Doswell muttered, staring down at a yellow chalk outline of the body as workers puttered outside the shop. "It's bad when you can't even sit in front of your own place."

But despite the East Baltimore slaying -- and the cross-town wounding of a child by another stray bullet -- many city residents refuse to retreat from their lawn chairs and front steps. They say they are shaken, but undaunted, by the encroaching violence.

All over Baltimore, as the weather turns warmer, people flock to steps and sidewalks to escape the scorching heat inside rowhouses that lack air conditioning. Adults chat with their neighbors; children play ball.

Maletha Moore, 72, who lives across the street from the carwash, says that won't change. "Anywhere I got to go, I'm going."

Sunday afternoon, David Fitzgerald, 70, had returned from Easter services and was chatting with friends in front of the carwash four blocks from his home -- in the 2200 block of Aiken St. -- when he heard shots and stood up.

One of 46 bullets fired by two groups of warring men hit him in the head, and Mr. Fitzgerald became another bystander struck down by gunfire meant for someone else. No one else was injured.

A few hours later, on the other side of the city, 7-year-old Domanique Brandon was walking with his mother in the 2400 block of Pennsylvania Ave. when several shots rang out.

"They ran into an alley to escape the hail of bullets," said Officer Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman. "The victim stopped and told his mother that his right arm felt funny. The mother lifted up the shirt and found he was shot in the right shoulder."

Domanique was taken to Johns Hopkins Children's Center, where he was in satisfactory condition yesterday. Police had made no arrests as of last night.

"Fortunately for all of us, it appears to be a small-caliber bullet," said Sgt. Donald Sampson. "We don't think he was the intended target. He's just a kid. Somebody was apparently shooting at somebody else and he just got caught in the middle."

In nearby neighborhoods, residents said the stray bullets wouldn't keep them inside.

"At this point, I think we'll come outside every now and then," said Latanya White, who lives with a 7-year-old daughter in the 900 block of Pennsylvania Ave. "[We're] not going to be cooped up in the house all summer."

Lenny Jackson, 52, who lives in the 1200 block of Edmondson Ave., said he sits outside his house regularly in the summer. This year, he plans to be very "pro-police" and call 911 if he thinks anything is about to happen.

"This is our neighborhood and we've got to realize it," he said. "We belong here, either in the house or outside of it. Police get paid to protect. Why not call and let them do their duty?"

,.5l In Highlandtown, residents said crime has eroded the tradition of sitting on the stoop. And some older residents said they don't sit out unless younger neighbors accompany them. But they'll still go outside.

"When the sun goes down on summer nights, we'll all be out here on the sunny side of the street," said Kathleen Banz of Fait Avenue, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1966 and is known as the "Highlandtown Hon."

Residents of Normal Avenue were relieved yesterday to learn that police arrested one suspect in Mr. Fitzgerald's slaying. George Lincoln Stanley, 26, of the 1700 block of E. 30th St. was charged with first-degree murder.

He was arrested after police stopped a blue Lexus Sunday night in East Baltimore.

Officer Weinhold said two men stood in an alley along Normal Avenue and fired at three men at the other end, on Cliftview Avenue.

Police said four men were shooting semiautomatic handguns at each other. The running gunbattle continued for several minutes as it moved up the alley and west on Normal Avenue. Along the way, car windows were shattered, houses were struck and shell casings littered the streets.

Mr. Fitzgerald, a retired steel worker of 41 years, was hit by one of the stray bullets and fell under a raised garage door.

That's where he had sat every day, whiling away the time talking about baseball and boxing and work.

Police said they know of no motive for the shootings, but residents blamed drugs. Graffiti on a wall near where Mr. Fitzgerald was slain lists streets -- common gang names in Baltimore -- including references to the Cliftview Posse.

"I'm not afraid to come out," said a defiant Mary Pettiway, 63, who has lived on Normal Avenue for 33 years. "I've been around too long."

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