Police seek clues in killing of minister

Flier distribution targets Park Heights, busy rush-hour route

July 18, 1999|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

At a loss for a suspect in the killing of the Rev. Junior Lee Gamble, Baltimore police will begin papering the minister's Park Heights neighborhood tomorrow with fliers -- including an unusual distribution to rush-hour motorists on Reisterstown Road.

Interviews have yielded only the vaguest description of the suspect -- a black male in dark clothing -- said Agent Angelique Cook-Hayes, a department spokeswoman. Police hope the fliers might produce more witnesses.

"Someone passing through the neighborhood may have seen or heard something, and not realized it," she said. "Someone might have come in contact with Mr. Gamble that morning. The smallest of information might help."

The fliers feature a photograph of the minister and the announcement of a reward by Metro Crime Stoppers of up to $2,000 for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

Gamble was on his way to buy eggs for breakfast when he was shot twice in the head outside his home at 8: 30 a.m. Thursday.

Police said the 73-year-old minister was accosted as he searched the trunk of his Buick LeSabre for a bottle of windshield cleaner. Gamble's wallet, containing $15, was in his back pocket when he died, leading police to speculate that the crime was a botched robbery.

At least two people reported seeing the gunman run into the woods near the minister's Quantico Avenue home.

A neat frame of black cloth rimmed the entrance to the Bibleway Free Will Baptist Church on Maine Avenue yesterday in honor of the man who preached there. Elder Wayne Parker, an associate pastor, will lead services in Gamble's place this morning.

"We always have people who read and pray, and we're not going to deviate from that," Parker said. "We're going to follow our normal format. The message, of course, will be something that comes from the Lord. I'll wait to see what message God wants me to give."

A viewing has been scheduled at the church from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday, with a one-hour wake beginning at 6 p.m. Funeral services, also at the church, will be 11 a.m. Thursday.

Gamble was the 136th homicide victim in Baltimore this year. Four killings have occurred in the Park Heights area since July 1.

Although police blanketed the neighborhood for two days after Gamble's death, residents said patrols appeared to be back to normal yesterday -- a situation that produced mixed feelings.

"I think the police are doing what they can," said Maceo Nichols, 65, who has lived in a house around the corner from Gamble's for more than 30 years. "You can't have an officer at every house on every block."

Police can do little more to prevent random crime, agreed Carolyn Dunmoodie, his neighbor.

"Things like this do happen," she said. "Before this, I looked behind me when I walked down the street, and I'm still going to look behind me."

But other neighbors said police must do more.

"We're not satisfied," said one longtime resident who did not want to be identified. "We see the drug dealing down in the park and call 911. But the police just drive past. They don't even stop to investigate."

Pub Date: 7/18/99

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