Seven killed in 48 hours Man's stabbing death at Inner Harbor puts city's '98 toll at 175

Suspect charged in 1 case

Police say two deaths in West Baltimore might be related

July 19, 1998|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

A fatal stabbing near the Inner Harbor early yesterday morning capped a spate of seven homicides in 48 hours, a rate more than three times Baltimore's average of fewer than one a day.

The rash of killings raises the city's homicides this year to 175, compared with 165 at this time last year, said Lt. Timothy G. Keel. In 1997, the total was 310.

Two of the recent killings, which police believe may be related, took place less than 24 hours apart on the same West Baltimore street.

A man was charged in a North Baltimore slaying Friday. All seven victims were young black males. In 1996, about 80 percent of the city's homicide victims were black men.

The most recent of the seven homicides happened outside a seafood restaurant, near the Light Street Pavilion -- one of the city's most popular tourist destinations.

The Inner Harbor homicide -- the second in that area since its revitalization about 15 years ago -- began with an argument between two groups of young people. It ended with Martrelle Creighton, 20, stabbed in the neck at about 2 a.m. yesterday, police said.

Creighton of the 7000 block of Fieldcrest Road died at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, police said.

Three of the victim's friends told police the rival group fled toward Pratt Street but they could provide no more identification than a nickname, "Twin."

Jealousy may have been a motive in the killing, police said.

"They kill people for reasons that boggle the mind," said investigating Detective Robert L. Patton. "Really stupid stuff: disputes over drugs, turf, girlfriends, a look of disrespect."

The same block

Patton and his colleagues also were searching for clues yesterday in two unrelated shootings in the 2300 block of Whittier Ave. on Friday.

In the first, Eltoro Robertson, 26, died of gunshot wounds at 1: 56 a.m., shortly after going to his girlfriend's house on Whittier.

Robertson was of the 1600 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway. Police said his slaying may have been triggered by a quarrel over a woman.

Friday night, Stephen Gabriel, 36, was fatally shot at about 10: 30 p.m. as he left his home in the same block. Gabriel was on his way to work as a midnight-shift security guard at Greenspring Medical Center.

"He gave me a kiss goodbye and then got killed just seven steps from the bus stop," said his girlfriend, who did not wish to be identified.

She described Gabriel as a kindhearted, quiet person: "If you needed his last piece of bread, he would give it to you."

Police said the two deaths on Whittier Avenue might be linked. Detectives and Gabriel's girlfriend said they suspect that Gabriel was shot because he was a bystander or witnessed Robertson's death outside his front door.

"Someone watched him [Gabriel] and timed it just right to come VTC out of the [alley] corner," said Patton, the lead detective on the case. "We assume someone was following him."

On her porch, Gabriel's girlfriend asked: "Who's next, me and my family? It's an eye for an eye around here."

She and her family refused a police offer of protection and relocation yesterday, police said. "I'm not going to be looking over my shoulder, either," she said.

Police worry the second killing on Whittier Avenue could cause intimidation. "It's unfortunate, because everyone might go into silence mode," Patton said.

Also Friday night in West Baltimore, Michael Robertson, 20, was shot in the 1600 block of McKean St. at about 11: 35. The victim lived in the 2800 block of Presbury St.

The fourth Friday homicide occurred earlier in the 600 block of McKewin Ave. in North Baltimore. Robert Cox, 25, of the 3700 block of Ellerslie Ave. was stabbed several times in a street fight at about 1 p.m., police said. Cox died at Union Memorial Hospital on Friday afternoon.

Charles Bradley, 39, was charged in the killing.

The 48 hours of violence began late Thursday with a triple shooting in the Harwood section of North Baltimore that left two young men dead.

Detective Scott G. Serio, who is investigating the double homicide, said he is going door to door in the 400 block of E. Lorraine Ave. to see whether anyone will provide information on the fatal shootings of Kevin Corbett, 27, and an unidentified victim.

Although people were on the street, Serio said, nobody has come forward -- a lament echoed yesterday by his fellow investigators.

Defying ordinary prevention

The seven homicides occurred just months after Baltimore police began a "homicide suppression unit" to try to curb the city's rising homicide rate. While the unit was initially successful in high-crime neighborhoods on the city's east and west sides, most of the slayings in the past two days defied ordinary prevention tactics, police said.

The slayings left homicide detectives, especially those on the midnight shift, searching for clues, reasons and witnesses willing to tell what they saw and heard.

"We need eyes and ears to help us when they see something go down," said Keel.

Pub Date: 7/19/98

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