Drug dispute may have led to triple homicide

Police say one man was target in shooting in West Baltimore

May 11, 1999|By Peter Hermann and Amy Oakes | Peter Hermann and Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

The shooting early Sunday that left three men dead in West Baltimore's Upton neighborhood is being blamed on a drug dispute, and police said yesterday that they are close to making an arrest.

"We have information that may in fact lead to a suspect," said Maj. Jeffrey R. Rosen, head of the Violent Crime Task Force and supervisor of the homicide squad. "A good deal of information has opened up."

Investigators also said that only one of the three victims hit by gunfire in the 800 block of Harlem Ave. was the intended target. Rosen would not identify the target nor would he elaborate on the suspected motive. Police said they are looking for three suspects.

Family members placed flowers and a balloon on the steps where one of the victims had been sitting when a man stepped out of a maroon car about 3 a.m. and opened fire. Police said the two other victims had been standing near the steps.

Killed were Tyrell Whitaker, 19, and Sylvester Logan, 23, both of the 800 block of Harlem Ave., and Michael Lee Jr., 30, of Silver Spring. Police said each had been shot several times.

The triple slaying, two bodies found Sunday afternoon in an apartment on Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore and another fatal shooting Saturday on Bloom Street shattered a six-day respite in city violence.

Detective Rich Purtell said yesterday that the man and woman from Reisterstown Road had been shot and a suspect is being sought in the double homicide. Their identities were not released pending notification of relatives.

Baltimore, with 314 homicides last year, was rated fourth-deadliest per capita in the nation. The pace has slowed considerably this year. Before Saturday, the city went six days without a homicide. This year, 83 people have been slain, compared with 114 at the same time last year.

Relatives of two of the Harlem Avenue victims denied that drugs were involved.

Maranda Davis said her cousin Logan had returned home after walking his aunt to Madison Avenue and had stopped to talk with Whitaker. "Sylvester was sitting on the steps and Tyrell was talking to him when it happened," she said.

Logan's mother, Beulah Logan, said her son was shot first, then the other two were shot as a crowd of people across the street scattered. "They found 13 to 14 shells on the ground," Logan said as tears streamed down her face. "Everybody said it seemed like random shooting."

Cassandra Thornton said her cousin Lee was walking to a corner store to get a sandwich "and got caught" in the gunfire. "He had no business being caught up in anything like that," she said.

Lee had worked as a cook in Silver Spring and often visited her on Harlem Avenue. "He had a beautiful soul and never did nothing to nobody," she said. Logan worked as a party organizer and dreamed of owning his own business.

Whitaker's relatives could not be reached. He had lived across the street from where the shooting occurred in his family's house. His parents, Beulah Logan said, moved away a few years ago.

Pub Date: 5/11/99

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