Booking Center lockdown continues Inmates questioned after one is killed

September 15, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's sprawling booking center, a first stop for people arrested in the city, remained locked down yesterday as police investigated the weekend stabbing death of a man who was awaiting trial on murder charges.

Maryland State Police questioned more than 100 inmates and correctional officers searched hundreds of cells in the state-owned Central Booking and Intake Center on East Monument Street, but failed to find a makeshift weapon believed to have been used in the killing.

By yesterday afternoon, state police spokesman Pete Peringer said, investigators had "several potential or possible suspects" in the stabbing of Scott P. Montague, 20, who had been incarcerated since December. But no charges had been filed as of last night.

"The culture of violence does not cease when someone is behind brick and mortar," said LaMont W. Flanagan, state commissioner of pretrial detention and services. "It is safer here than it is on the streets of any metropolitan city."

About 90,000 arrestees pass through Central Booking each year. The four-story facility holds 4,000 inmates, and rarely are cells empty.

Flanagan said there have been four homicides since the state took over the detention center in 1991 in a deal to relieve the city of a financially draining, troubled institution.

Montague had been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Rudolph Riddick, 20, on Aug. 30, 1997 in the 700 block of N. Monroe St. No motive has been determined in that slaying, city police said.

Montague had been held without bail; a court date could not be learned yesterday. He was being held in the "J-Section" with about 120 other inmates in pre-trial detention for an extended period of time.

Montague's family members could not be reached for comment yesterday. No one was at the home listed on his latest offense report, in the 800 block of Bentalou St. in West Baltimore, and his court-appointed lawyer did not return phone calls to her office.

Residents of the block said Montague's family had moved from the neighborhood a short time ago.

Peringer said investigators had not determined a motive for Montague's slaying, and he could not say whether the dispute stemmed from a long-term problem or was the result of a spur-of-the moment fight. An autopsy performed yesterday confirmed that Montague had been stabbed in the neck several times, he said.

Flanagan said the jail will be locked down indefinitely until corrections officers search every cell. While they did not locate the suspected murder weapon, the commissioner said numerous makeshift knives, or shanks, were recovered from cells near Montague's.

Under lockdown, inmates are barred from all recreation activities, and visitors are not allowed to the visiting room to see inmates.

The stabbing occurred Sunday about 10: 20 a.m., minutes before a correctional officer reported finding Montague bleeding in his cell; he was pronounced dead at the scene. Flanagan said the cell doors on the tier had been unlocked since about 6 a.m. and that many inmates were on their way to religious services when the stabbing occurred.

When the cells are open, Flanagan said, inmates on each tier -- usually about 120 -- can walk to neighboring cells, use a common television room or obtain passes to visit the infirmary, recreational yard or counselors. Flanagan said Montague's cellmate apparently was elsewhere when the incident occurred.

"These inmates have been here for several months," Flanagan said. "There has never been any disciplinary problem. No one had ever asked for protective custody, nor was there any evidence that anyone's life was in jeopardy."

Pub Date: 9/15/98

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