Firebombings of West Baltimore homes might be linked to neighbors' dispute

Two apartments damaged in early morning attack

June 03, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Two apartments in West Baltimore's Franklin Square community were damaged by firebombs early yesterday, possibly as part of a neighborhood squabble, police said.

No injuries were reported. Two gasoline-filled beer bottles with lighted rags stuck inside were thrown through windows of 1515 W. Fayette St. -- setting curtains on fire in a room where a 2-year-old boy was sleeping -- and 1519 W. Fayette St.

The 4 a.m. fire also caused moderate damage to 1517 W. Fayette St., the rental office for the Franklin Square Apartments.

Police said they think the target was Erica Speisghts, 20, who lives in the 1500 block of W. Fayette St. Speisghts had filed assault charges against a neighbor a few hours earlier.

Speisghts told police that the neighbor had hit her once in the face as they argued over a telephone conversation.

She was not injured.

Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a police spokeswoman, said investigators believe the apartment at 1519 W. Fayette St. was targeted in error by the person who threw the bottle. That address sustained the most damage, an estimated $25,000.

Police said the bottle thrown against Speisghts' window shattered the glass but that most of the device bounced back outside.

Speisghts was in her living room when she heard a crashing sound, and she raced into her bedroom, found her curtains burning and rescued her 2-year-old son.

Speisghts had filled out a complaint against her neighbor a few hours before the fire. Latonya Smith, 22, a friend of Speisghts', said the original argument "was over a phone conversation" between Speisghts and the man who allegedly assaulted her.

"It was over nothing," Smith said. "He hit her. She pressed charges and then someone set fire to her house."

Police said they are investigating the incident.

They confirmed that Speisghts filled out a police report and charged her neighbor with assault.

The man was arrested on an outstanding warrant on an unrelated charge, they said.

Cooper said police are looking into Speisghts' account but "have not ruled that to be the motive. We are looking at other possibilities."

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