Young man mourned his death is still mystery

July 20, 1995|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Carol L. Bowers contributed to this article.

As more than 100 family members and friends gathered at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church for a bittersweet funeral, Baltimore police still were searching yesterday for clues in Friday's shooting death of Patrick Benjamin Cawley of Lutherville.

They laughed and cried, as they shared memories and paid their respects to the 19-year-old Mount St. Mary's student who apparently was shot in his car and later lay dying in the arms of a stranger in the middle of Clearspring Road.

Police have no suspect in the shooting, but are investigating reports of drug-related activities that might have provided a motive.

Homicide Detective Robert Bowman said the area where Mr. Cawley's body was found, near Govans, is not a high crime area, but there are "clusters of drug areas" nearby, along Benninghaus and Alhambra roads. He added, "We're not confirming [the report] and we're not ignoring it."

During yesterday's Mass of Christian burial, mourners celebrated the young man's life, as he was remembered by his stepsister Patti Gerhardt, 19. Mr. Cawley, a Loyola High School graduate described as fun-loving, thoughtful and friendly, was loved by many people, she said.

Tales of break dancing, skateboarding and guitar lessons followed. And images of the two sitting on a stairwell in their Lutherville home, sharing their hopes and dreams, brought tears to the mourners.

"I remember bringing home the heavily perfumed notes for my cute brother," Ms. Gerhardt said. "I love him like everyone here," she added later. "And as a brother and as a friend, he will stay within my soul forever."

Meanwhile, detectives were juggling two important questions: Who shot Mr. Cawley? And what was he doing in the last hours of his life?

Police said Mr. Cawley was on his way to a hardware store, to buy a carpet-cutting knife to use at his summer job, and stopped LTC to visit a friend. He did not return home.

Neighbors on Clearspring Road found Mr. Cawley unconscious behind the wheel of his gray 1987 Volkswagen Jetta, after the car had crashed into parked vehicles. Paramedics discovered he had a gunshot wound to the chest, police said.

Mr. Cawley died later that night.

Police say they believe he was shot while sitting inside his car and that the shooting might have taken place near Clearspring Road.

"You really have to be aware of what you are doing to drive in that neighborhood because of the winding and narrow roads. I don't think he could have gotten too far with his injury without hitting something," Detective Bowman said.

Some neighbors reported hearing one gunshot that night, some reported hearing three or four, and still others said they heard firecrackers, Detective Bowman said, adding, "We can't really pin it down."

Police said no carpet-cutting knife was found in from Mr. Cawley's car.

"We have spoken to a witness who had said . . . the victim had shown him the knife he had just bought," Detective Bowman said. "It's possible that whoever killed him might have taken the knife."

On Clearspring Road, Mr. Cawley's family and friends continue to mourn him.

A wooden board, covering a hole in the fence where his car crashed, was marked "We Love You Pat," in pink and orange chalk. Names of friends were scrawled all over the board, and flowers and notes in a plastic bag were piled in another corner of the fence.

"Patrick's such a presence here," said Mary Skeen, who lives closest to the spot where he crashed. "His friends come and they tell me all about him and they share such wonderful stories about him. These kids keep coming and coming and the boys, they just stand out here, they hold each other and cry."

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