Woman disputes police allegation of hoax Drugs dealers forced family from E. Baltimore home, she maintains

October 24, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A woman who claims her family was forced from an East Baltimore home by angry drug dealers said yesterday the family was mistaken for informants, and she angrily disputed police who labeled her story a "cruel hoax."

Larri Alston, 20, said none of the residents of her home in the 1700 block of N. Bradford St. cooperated with police on a drug sweep Oct. 17 in which 60 people were arrested but neighborhood dealers thought they had given tips to detectives.

Alston also said she had filed a police report noting the threats Oct. 17, and was home with a 2-year-old child when gunmen opened fire on the house Saturday.

dTC As a result, she said police moved them out of the neighborhood to an undisclosed location.

"We were not informants," Alston said yesterday in a call to The Sun. "We did not help police out as far as giving them information. We are not getting protection because we were terrorized in our own home."

Police confirmed the family did file several reports starting two days before the police raids alleging threats from neighbors. They said at least two were for rocks thrown through windows.

Police said a report of shots fired at the house turned out to be more rocks, and one call was for a domestic fight among residents. Police did order a marked patrol car to park in front of the house and helped the family move to a motel.

But police remain doubtful about the family's account, saying it has more to do with a neighborhood squabble than a dispute about turning in drug dealers.

"It's a bunch of misunderstanding between the neighbors," said Eastern District Lt. Ed Jackson. "They wanted us to intervene and give them some sort of refuge. They asserted that we involved them in some sort of drug investigation and then we left them out in the cold. That's the furthest thing from the truth."

The lieutenant added that police "have no reason to believe that they are being retaliated against," and he added that he has talked repeatedly with the people involved and remains confused as to what is happening.

"This whole thing doesn't make sense to me," Jackson said. "We don't know what their motives are. Every time you turn around, their story changes."

Police and East Baltimore clergy members, concerned that publicity last week about the family would scare people who might help police, held a rally Wednesday afternoon to warn dealers they are being watched.

The Eastern District commander, Maj. Wendell M. France, called the incident a "cruel hoax" and said the family's motivation was to get police involved in a dispute among neighbors.

Yesterday, Jackson said his officers have done all they can do. "We agreed to pay special attention to the house," he said, adding he sees no justification for placing the family in a witness protection program.

Alston said the misunderstanding may be because her family has called police frequently, and the sight of patrol cars parked out front might have angered nearby drug dealers. She is angry with police for calling the incident a hoax.

"They said it was a squabble and that is not the case," she said. "They said there were no threats and that is not the case."

Pub Date: 10/24/97

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