Families search for cause of shootings

Man shot girlfriend, was killed by police, but left no clues

June 15, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Vincent E. Dobson Jr. and Brandi Logan had talked of getting married. He dreamed of being a computer engineer. She was preparing for nursing school at Coppin State College. Relatives described a bright future for the young couple.

Nothing, they said, foreshadowed a violent Saturday night when Dobson pulled up at Logan's house in Northwest Baltimore in a rented green Dodge Durango and told his girlfriend: "You know I love you."

Logan answered "Yes," then was shot once in the chest, Brandi told her family. She remains hospitalized.

Authorities said a city police officer killed Dobson, 21, a short time later after he led them on a chase through West Baltimore, shot at an officer and then crashed the car he was driving into a house.

The events have left two families -- who had grown close through their children's courtship -- bewildered as they try to figure out what shattered the apparent bliss. Both said they saw no outward signs of anger, mistrust or disillusionment.

Logan's father, Tyrone Logan, said he had seen Dobson several times in the past week and had "no inclination" anything was amiss between Dobson and his daughter. But he said it is obvious that something was terribly wrong.

"We assume they tell us some things, but not everything," the 52-year-old father said yesterday. "We as parents have to make it clear to our children that they need to tell us everything."

Brandi Logan, 18, was in stable condition yesterday at Sinai Hospital with a bullet in her lung. Her father said doctors are waiting for her lung to gain strength so the 9 mm slug can be safely removed. Although family members have spoken very briefly with her, she has not been told of Dobson's death.

The families have been in touch with each other.

"We hold no malice toward them at all," the elder Logan said. "We are trying to figure a way that we can help them through this. Our daughter is still here. I can't imagine what it would feel like to be in their position."

Dobson's mother, Wanda Draper, 48, said she also is searching for answers. "This is the hardest thing I ever had to deal with in my life," she said yesterday. "We have spent hours going over it with her parents."

Draper, public affairs director for WBAL-TV and a former Evening Sun reporter, said her son disliked guns and never uttered a foul word about his girlfriend. He was a 1996 graduate of Owings Mills High School, where he was a lacrosse, football and basketball player.

He grew up in Worthington Valley, an upscale suburb in Baltimore County. His father, Vincent Dobson Sr., helped design Buicks for General Motors in Flint, Mich.

Where he got the Keltec 9 mm handgun and what led to the events that ended in his death remain a mystery.

Dobson had three minor brushes with the law, including charges of disorderly conduct and having an open container of alcohol, both in 1996. Prosecutors did not pursue either case.

Last year, he got into an argument with a man at the Paradox nightclub on Russell Street in Baltimore after he danced with the man's girlfriend. Draper said her son went to the young woman's Baltimore County apartment, where he got into another argument with the man, who called police and reported he had been robbed. The man filed charges against Dobson through a District Court commissioner -- charges that were dismissed.

Family members were unable to say yesterday whether that incident caused problems between Dobson and Logan.

The elder Logan said his family, including Brandi, had just finished saying their daily prayers Saturday night when Dobson pulled up to their small brick house across from Reisterstown Road Plaza. Police said she ran out to meet him and was shot.

Police received a 911 call about the shooting at 9: 07 p.m. and an officer arrived a minute later. Dobson's Durango was spotted a short time later and was pulled over in the 100 block of N. Pulaski St. Police said the driver fired four shots at Officer Raymond Cook, who dived for cover as bullets pierced his patrol car.

The driver took off and crashed head-on into a Toyota Cressida before careening into the side of a rowhouse in the 900 block of N. Gilmor St. Police said Cook approached the car and opened fire when he saw the driver bend over and reach toward the floorboard.

Police said yesterday they are investigating the shooting, and said Cook, who is on routine administrative leave, is cooperating.

The police union president, Officer Gary McLhinney, defended Cook's decision to shoot, saying the officer "had a legitimate fear for his life" when the driver reached down, especially because he had been shot at moments before. Police said they found a 9 mm handgun and several spent shell casings on the floor near the front seat of Dobson's vehicle.

Dobson's mother did not question the police version of events. But Logan's father said he has heard several versions of when the officer fired and when he was fired upon. All cases in which police shoot people are reviewed by the state's attorney's office.

"I know police officers have a stressful job and we have to take that into consideration," Logan said. "But we just can't accept them blindly. He didn't have to die."

Pub Date: 6/15/99

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