Teen killed, two wounded in 'hot spot' crime area Money designated for extra police patrols in city neighborhood

June 03, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A teen-ager was killed and two young men were wounded early yesterday outside a bar in Southwest Baltimore -- the latest outbreak of violence in a neighborhood targeted by police as a "hot spot" for crime.

The incident in Carrollton Ridge marked the fifth slaying this year in a 35-square block area where state and federal funds are paying for extra police patrols to minimize homicides and shootings.

"We managed to curtail a lot of problems over there in the past six or seven weeks," said Maj. John L. Bergbower, the Southwestern District police commander. "It was going good."

But the major said Carrollton Ridge and neighboring Shipley Hill are "concentrated areas of high crime" where his officers have confiscated 35 handguns since January, five in the past month.

"Because of the nature of the violence, we have to throw everything down there to gain control of the streets," Bergbower said.

Killed in yesterday's shooting was David Mason Briggs, 19, of the 1800 block of Ramsay St. He and two friends were shot five blocks from his home at a bus stop near Buddy's bar at South Pulaski and McHenry streets.

Police said they had no suspect or knew of a motive in the triple shooting, which occurred about 12: 10 a.m. Briggs' half-brother, 28-year-old James Swinson, said the gunman opened fire from the front passenger seat of a gray Acura Legend.

The three victims scattered after being shot, leaving a trail of blood that ran the length of a block and continued through an alley behind the tavern. Police said Briggs -- who worked as a day laborer -- was wounded in the head and was pronounced dead behind the bar at the alley's entrance.

The wounded were identified as area residents Winfield Hopkins, 24, hit in the left leg, and Thomas Chandler, 26, hit in the left foot. Both were released after hospital treatment.

Area residents had differing reasons for the shooting. Some said it was a dispute over a girl while others blamed drugs. Swinson said his brother and the friends were mistaken by the gunman for people who had robbed him earlier in the evening.

"They were just standing there at a bus stop," Swinson said. "They were waiting for one of their friends to get on a bus to go home. A car just pulled up and somebody started shooting. There is too much violence out here."

Inside Buddy's, where an afternoon crowd was sipping beer yesterday and watching the Orioles' game at nearby Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 55-year-old Patricia Johnson said, "They are killing everybody."

Johnson, who has lived in Carrollton Ridge for three decades, added: "You can't walk down the street anymore. They're all crazy."

Carrollton Ridge is one of five designated "hot spot" areas in Baltimore targeted in a statewide initiative to pump money into neighborhoods overtaken by crime.

About $3.5 million in state and federal grants has been distributed for 36 such communities across Maryland.

Bergbower said that a week ago he moved his "hot spot" task force a few blocks north from the area where yesterday's shooting occurred to another where shootings had increased.

The violence has become so brazen, he said, that on Thursday, a patrol officer in a marked cruiser witnessed a drive-by shooting on Franklintown Road, at the northern tip of Shipley Hill.

"He pulled up right behind [the gunman] as he was squeezing the trigger," the major said. The suspect was captured after a short chase. The victim was wounded in the buttocks and right leg.

"We used to be able to sit on our steps," said Howard Ritenour, 60, who has lived in Carrollton Ridge all his life.

"But no more."

Pub Date: 6/03/98

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