Fells Point guardian angel rescues tourist


July 22, 1998|By DAN RODRICKS

Correction: In Wednesday's TJI, Joey Amalfitano misspelled his vacation spot in New York. It's one word, not two: Southampton. Sorry.

Here we are on the hot, humid Monday night in the city they call Baltimore, and there he is -- a scrawny man, pinned, face down, to the brick sidewalk of Thames Street. A burly guy kneels on him. A muscular man hovers nearby. The police are on their way.

What we have here is a citizen's arrest, thanks in large part to one Kevin Brown, a self-described "guardian angel" who cruises through Fells Point like a trim seaman who pulled Shore Patrol duty. Brown came to the rescue of a Virginian making his first trip to Baltimore.


Just before midnight, near Thames and Broadway, Tom Burke, a 40-year-old tourist from Richmond, was about to check into the Admiral Fell Inn. As Burke retrieved luggage from his mini-van, a man approached, said he was homeless and asked for money.

Burke said he gave the man $2, which apparently wasn't good enough. Seeing more cash in Burke's wallet, the man demanded more, adding the words: "I got a gun. Give me your wallet."

Enter this Kevin Brown, a muscular, ramrod-straight, 40-year-old fellow who does odd jobs at various Fells Point bars. He said he'd seen "the suspect" -- his term, not ours -- approach "our guest." He heard the "suspect" say, "This is a hold-up," and claim to have a gun. Then Brown saw the robber take Burke's wallet.

That's when Brown snapped into action. He stepped between Burke and the robber and wrested the wallet away. Another man -- he didn't want to give us his name -- came out of the night and slammed the would-be robber to the sidewalk. He held him there for police.

The man on the sidewalk kept saying, "I didn't rob nobody."

A man wearing a polo shirt and carrying a golf club walked into the scene and taunted the suspect: "We're going to miss you the next two or three years. . . . You want to smoke some crack?"

Police soon arrived and arrested 39-year-old Freddie Lee of Ballou Court in Baltimore, charging him with assault and robbery. Police say they didn't find a weapon.

Tom Burke said of Kevin Brown: "This gentleman pretty much saved me. He got my $60 back, and my credit cards and everything."

"It's my first night ever in Baltimore," added Burke, visibly shaken. "We had heard all kinds of wonderful things about this place."

Afterward, Kevin Brown stood by with arms locked behind his back, as if in parade rest posture. He wore a tank top that said, "No mercy." When we approached to ask if he had witnessed the crime, Brown answered: "Affirmative, sir."

He then described how he "detained the gentleman," and continued to speak with military formality.

Brown wants it known that such confrontations are not the norm in Fells Point. But he said he would keep his eyes open for other problems, adding: "I protect, honor and serve The Point."

Where do we find such men?

Hamptons holiday

Big news in the life of our pal, Joey Amalfitano: A relative invited him to share a fancy-schmancy beach house in the Hamptons for the weekend. It sounded like an adventure. "Salt air, privet hedges, the chance of a Spielberg sighting -- what could be better?" Joey said. He put Maxine and the luggage in the Monte Carlo and took off for New York.

"The road trip was interesting," Joey reports. "The view of Lady Liberty from the Verrazano Narrows Bridge -- lovely. The Long Island Expressway -- not so lovely. They don't call it Lo-o-o-ong Island for nothin'!

"Once settled into the cottage, we hit the sands -- clean, gleaming and littered with Noo Yawkas. It wasn't Ocean City, hon: I overheard the guy on the next towel patiently explaining the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to his buddy. ('It's at 1,160 now. Say you've got $100,000 to invest ...') Whoops! Time for a dip!

"Spielberg never showed. Neither did Gatsby. But we did meet a world-famous artist -- Chuck Close, one of those Museum of Modern Art guys that John Dorsey just wrote about in The Sunpaper. He was at the auto service shop in South Hampton. We talked wiper blades. Just another day on the American Riviera. I'll be home soon, Danny."

Peach of a gift

I transplanted the peach tree about five years ago from a spot in the city where it just didn't belong. It didn't have enough room to grow, and its roots sat in a patch of the back yard that looked like a swamp most of the time. Since the transplantation to a better spot, the tree has thrived. It even started producing peaches a few years ago.

Not that we ate any.

The peaches were either too small to bother with or marked with unappetizing rashes and scabs, or they were wormy. I let the birds and squirrels have them. As long as the tree was green every year, I didn't care. I had neither time nor inclination to take care of it. I didn't prune it, didn't fertilize it, certainly didn't spray it with chemicals. I didn't even look into organic methods of helping the tree.

This year, the peaches are big and pretty and juicy and sweet. My wife made two pies with them the other night. Topped with a dab of vanilla ice cream, they were to die for. We did nothing to RTC deserve this. I consider it a gift outright, an unexpected bonus from the sun.

This Just In appears each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact Dan Rodricks at 410-332-6166, by post at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, 21278, or by e-mail at TJIDAol.com.

Pub Date: 7/22/98

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