Patrols increase after fatal attack in Bolton Hill Police expand vigilance in wake of man's killing during a car robbery

January 20, 1998|By Jamie Smith | Jamie Smith,SUN STAFF

Police have increased patrols in Bolton Hill and an organization that supplements city services will follow suit in the wake of an attack that left a Bolton Hill man dead.

The changes were announced at a Sunday community meeting, attended by about 100 Bolton Hill residents -- who also learned that a $25,000 reward, donated by an anonymous former resident, has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the death Friday of 86-year-old Ernest Hildebrandt.

Increased patrols were promised after some residents at the meeting, held at Memorial Episcopal Church on Bolton Street and attended by Central District police, said they wanted more police presence.

Nancy Rouse, who has lived in Bolton Hill for 50 years, would like to see the city hire more officers. "I'm sorry this happened," she said. "Ernie was a friend of mine."

Central District Sgt. Charles Hess said that an extra officer was added to the regular patrol in the area after the incident. Now, he said, patrol officers also will spend less time in one place to cover more ground. And a "hot spot" squad of plainclothes officers has been assigned to the area, he said.

Deborah Diehl, president of the Midtown Community Benefits District -- which supplements city services in Bolton Hill and three other neighborhoods -- noted that the attack on Hildebrandt occurred in the afternoon and said her organization will add daytime bicycle and foot patrols this year.

The quickly organized meeting was a typical response from a community known for its active residents -- especially when safety is on the line. Volunteers patrol the area on foot some evenings and regularly ride with officers. About 70 people are on a new e-mail network that quickly updates them about the problems, meetings and events in the neighborhood.

The benefits district provides a team of people who do their own patrols in Bolton Hill.

"The Bolton Hillers are very committed to our neighborhood," said Jill Nyman, a board member of Mount Royal Improvement Association and a resident since 1981.

The Sunday meeting began with prayers for Hildebrandt, who was attacked during a car robbery. Friday, eight days after the incident, he died. Police have no suspects.

It was the second time he had been attacked -- and was the first crime of this nature in Bolton Hill since early 1996, when another elderly man was killed in a robbery.

"A number of people have talked about wanting to get together," said Doreen Rosenthal, president of the improvement association, who believes the neigh- borhood is safe. " Everybody in Maryland -- I guess in the United States -- is interested in increasing safety. We're no different from anyone else."

Diehl described the atmosphere at the 90-minute meeting as "fairly positive."

Added Rosenthal, "This was not an emotionally charged meeting at all. I think people are very realistic -- they know the world we live in. It's our job to help keep our neighborhood safe."

Pub Date: 1/20/98

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