Violent end to an American dream Tavern owner is slain while trying to quiet teen-agers outside bar

June 17, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Concerned for the safety of departing customers, Akande Olagunju took it upon himself to quiet some unruly teen-agers who had gathered early yesterday outside his corner bar in East Baltimore.

But when Olagunju, 47, walked out the front door of his Bird Cage bar at North Avenue and Chester Street and asked the youths to move away, he was shot fatally, city police said.

While authorities searched for the killer yesterday, Olagunju's widow mourned the Nigerian immigrant -- a father of four children, ages 5, 8, 13 and 20 -- who had come to America seeking a better life.

"He loved it here," said his wife, Alice Olagunju, as she prepared to open the bar yesterday morning. "And the community loved him. He was a great person. He really didn't have any enemies."

She said her husband moved to Baltimore from Nigeria two decades ago and was a cab driver before opening the Bird Cage in 1993.

The shooting, his wife said, "will be on the killer's conscience. Whoever did this knows they took a life for no reason. He has taken the life of someone who has worked hard to support the community."

Homicide Detective Oscar L. Requer said investigators knew of no suspect in the slaying, which occurred after 2 a.m. as about 20 patrons were leaving the tavern.

"The owner went outside for some unruly kids who were creating a disturbance," Requer said. "There was a confrontation between him and two guys. One produced a handgun and fired several times."

By noon yesterday, Olagunju's tearful wife was back at the bar, pouring drinks for a small group of patrons.

She opened up, she said, for two reasons -- hoping a witness would step forward, and as a tribute to her husband.

"I know he would have wanted me to do this," she said. "He worked so hard to keep this bar open. He never closed it for any reason."

Pub Date: 6/17/96

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