2 dead, 9 hurt in city gunfire Six-hour spate of crime counters trend of decline

All victims are men

January 02, 1998|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Baltimore opened its new year yesterday with 12 people shot in the first seven hours after midnight -- at least one hit by a stray bullet apparently fired into the air to mark the arrival of 1998.

Since Christmas, 32 people have been shot in Baltimore, and 12 of them have died. In all of last year, 309 people were killed, down 7 percent from the 1996 total of 331.

Yesterday's shootings left police watchful after a year in which violent crime in the city, particularly shootings, declined significantly.

Two men, ages 23 and 25, died in a triple shooting outside a West Baltimore nightclub about 12: 40 a.m.

Police said the ritual of firing guns into the air at the start of the New Year contributed to the seven-hour spell of shootings and made their investigations more difficult.

Detectives had to sort through dozens of bullet casings at the slaying scene.

"Looking for someone with a gun in West Baltimore is the reverse of looking for a needle in a haystack," said homicide Detective Scott G. Serio, the lead investigator of the nightclub shootings.

"It's hard to tell what was part of New Year's revelry and what was a double homicide."

The number of shootings yesterday was unusual even for Baltimore, where an average of more than three people are shot every day. That is down from a record set in 1993, when 2,458 were shot -- nearly seven a day.

The year's first shooting occurred five minutes after midnight, when Alvin Whitaker, 34, was hit in the head by a bullet as he walked in the 200 block of N. Patterson Park Ave. He told police he heard gunfire from several directions.

"It appears that a stray bullet hit him," said Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a police spokeswoman.

Less than an hour later, Aaron Fair and Terrance Anderson, 23 and 25, died of multiple gunshot wounds in the 900 block of N. Calhoun St., outside the New Club 909 nightclub. Police said the victims were targeted.

Serio said Fair, who lived on the 700 block of Linnard St., had served in the military and worked as a security guard at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Anderson lived on the 1500 block of Kia Court. Police said one of the two was a disc jockey who went to the nightclub to drop off some music.

A third Baltimore man who accompanied Fair and Anderson, Terry Barbour, 23, also was shot outside the nightclub. He was rushed to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center with critical wounds.

Western District patrol officers were close to the scene and saw one of the victims fall to the ground.

Although the nightclub was crowded with people when the shots rang out, no witnesses to the triple shooting came forward, police said. "We have no clue as to the motive and no suspects as of now," Serio said.

The morning after the slayings, the mood was tense in the inner-city neighborhood, where bloodstains and chalk outlines were still visible on the sidewalk. Groups of young men warily guarded street corners within a one-block radius of the nightclub, which occupies the first floor of a Formstone rowhouse next to an alley.

One woman inside the club said the crackle of gunfire did not attract attention because most people assumed it was part of West Baltimore's usual noise and fanfare to greet the New Year. The proprietor of the bar is listed on a sign posted in a window as Dolores Laws.

In an unrelated incident just over an hour later and four blocks away, in the 1300 block of N. Calhoun St., an unlicensed cab driver -- or "hack" -- was shot by a customer after what police said was an argument over the fare.

Police said Markell Broadley, 26, picked up a passenger at the corner of West North Avenue and North Fulton Street and took him to a North Calhoun Street home about 2 a.m. The passenger went in to wish a woman a happy new year and then came outside, said Cooper, the police spokeswoman.

After a dispute, Cooper said, Broadley was shot in the neck, chest and right side. He was taken to Shock Trauma.

Two of yesterday's victims were inside vehicles when they were shot in unrelated incidents minutes apart.

Police said Marcus Allen, 24, was riding in the back of a car in the 2100 block of Ashland Ave. in East Baltimore when a man opened fire through the rear window about 1: 08 a.m. Allen suffered a neck wound and was taken by the driver to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Eight minutes later, in the 2900 block of Mosher St. on the city's west side, 18-year-old Andre Brewer was shot in the right leg while sitting in a parked car. He also was treated at Shock Trauma.

About six minutes later, 35-year-old Lamarce Fuston was shot in the chest and neck while walking with a group of friends in the 4500 block of Umatilla Ave. in Northwest Baltimore.

Police said they were confronted by another group. One of those men, who was armed, threatened the victim and told him he would count to three.

But, Cooper said, "Without even counting to three, he simply opened fire." Fuston was treated last night at Sinai Hospital.

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