Slaying on bus among 5 Northeast killings in Oct. Police tie some homicides to drug turf war in area

November 01, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A 26-year-old man fatally shot on a city bus Wednesday was the fifth person slain in Northeast Baltimore in October, and police are blaming some of the killings on a turf war over crack cocaine.

Though detectives have not established a motive or made any arrests in the bus case, the number of slayings and shootings in the area has worried the Northeastern District police commander.

"We thought things had settled down," said Maj. Bert L. Shirey, district commander. "We're not happy with this situation at all. Some of these shootings seem to be interrelated."

Shirey said the drug disputes "start up like a storm. They burn through a neighborhood, and we make arrests. Those we don't arrest end up getting killed, and then it settles down for a while."

Police identified the bus victim as Mitchell Antonio Curtis, who lived with his mother in the 4800 block of Strathdale Road, in Northeast Baltimore.

Curtis worked at home remodeling and had a daughter, Jasmine, 3, who lives with her mother in West Virginia.

Curtis' 43-year-old aunt, who did not want her name used, said she had no idea what happened Wednesday. She said that her nephew didn't hang around questionable people. He had no adult criminal record.

Police said the shooting began about 4: 50 p.m. when two men chased Curtis onto an MTA bus stopped at Edison Highway and Sinclair Lane, at the southern edge of Belair-Edison.

Although the bus was packed with 54 passengers, police said one of the men fired several shots at Curtis, hitting him at least once in the head, then escaped into nearby woods with another man riding a bicycle.

The bus shooting capped a violent month in Northeast Baltimore.

On Oct. 11, two people were shot -- one fatally -- in front of the 19th Hole, a bar in the 2700 block of Harford Road. Three days later and two blocks away, a body was found in a park. The victim had been shot.

Shirey said those two shootings appear related to the drug turf war. He said two other slayings -- on Oct. 18 in the 1500 block of Hartsdale Road and Oct. 19 in the 5100 block of Loch Raven Blvd. -- are being investigated for possible drug ties.

"I think a lot of drug conflicts are going on," Shirey said. The commander added that in the bus shooting, the gunman "wanted [the victim] bad. Obviously, they were strongly motivated. Chasing a man on a bus is outrageous and is a very bold act."

The victim's aunt spent yesterday making funeral arrangements.

"The only thing I would like to say to the people who did this is: God says vengeance is his. They will pay for what they did," she said.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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