Teen fatally shot outside city pool

June 20, 1995|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writer

A teen-ager was fatally shot outside a city swimming pool yesterday afternoon, just two days after public pools opened for the summer season.

The shooting occurred at a pavilion entrance at the Clifton Park pool -- called the "Pool of Pride" -- out of sight of the 200 children and adults who were swimming on the 93-degree day. But police said the incident might have started with an earlier argument at poolside.

Witnesses said swimmers briefly panicked when several gunshots were fired about 3 p.m., but life guards restored order, cleared the pools and herded the swimmers into the dressing rooms. The public pool, the city's third largest, was closed for three hours.

"I'm sort of shocked," said Rick Preski, a spokesman for the city Department of Recreation and Parks. "But I'm not jumping up and down. If I did, it would make it look like this happened all the time. And that isn't true."

Mr. Preski, noting the television cameras and reporters who flocked to the scene, complained that most of the news media did not cover Saturday's opening.

"You don't hear about the good things that happened over the weekend, but you hear about this one," he said. "And this is the one that you will remember."

Investigators released few details yesterday evening. Officer Sabrina V. Tapp-Harper, a police spokes woman, said a fistfight between two males ended in gunfire when one youth pulled a handgun and fired several times at the other, Abdul Wesby-Bey, 19, of the 2800 block of Kennedy Ave.

Mr. Wesby-Bey suffered several gunshot wounds -- including at least one to the chest -- and collapsed at the north entrance of the pavilion off St. Lo Drive, north of Sinclair Lane. Witnesses told police that a man wearing denim shorts ran from the area.

Two lifeguards, Charlie Campbell and Quinn Gooden, rushed to the pavilion and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation while others called police. Mr. Wesby-Bey was taken to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was dead on arrival.

Police recovered three bullet casings. Officer Tapp-Harper said detectives took a towel and a pair of beach thongs into evidence. No suspects had been arrested as of last night.

By 4 p.m., the pool area was virtually empty -- police and most swimmers had left. Lifeguards stood around the empty pools.

Mr. Preski said the pools are safe. "We just don't have problems," he said. However, he said that shortly before 3 p.m., lifeguards ejected several youths who police say were pushing and shoving each other. A few minutes later, the shots were fired at the upper-level pavilion entrance. It was unclear last night whether the incidents were related.

Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman, said a city officer assigned to patrol the pool failed to report for his shift and did not notify anyone of his absence. Officials were looking into the matter, the spokesman said. The officer was scheduled to work overtime, with his salary paid by the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Mr. Ringgold said it was questionable whether the shooting would have been prevented if the officer had been at the pool, because officers patrolling the pool usually work inside a fenced-in area out of view of where the shooting occurred.

Baltimore has 23 outdoor pools at five parks. Clifton Park has three grouped together -- a wading pool, an Olympic-sized pool and a diving pool. Seventeen lifeguards -- some trained as emergency medical technicians -- supervise Clifton Park.

Russell Williams, the Clifton manager, called the shooting unfortunate. "It's a neighborhood squabble and innocent kids are the ones who suffer," he said. "We just want kids to come and swim."

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