Child, 12, shot in robbery attempt

Boy hurt in Hampden, 3 blocks from stabbing of neighbor in June

September 21, 1999|By Peter Hermann and Laurie Willis | Peter Hermann and Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A robber shot a 12-year-old boy once in the head in Hampden early yesterday, apparently because the child didn't have money to give to the gunman, police said.

Emanuel "Nick" Gerondis was in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Children's Center last night. Police said he was sitting with friends on a house's porch about 1 a.m. when the incident occurred.

Some of the youngsters ran when the robber approached the group in the 3800 block of Ash St. A 16-year-old turned over $20. But Emanuel didn't have anything in his pockets.

"He was shot when he didn't have any money," said Maj. Robert Biemiller, commander of the Northern District.

It was the second time a young male had been a victim of severe violence in Hampden since June 26, when Angus Michael Breen, 14, was stabbed to death during an apparent robbery three blocks from the shooting yesterday.

No arrest has been made in either case.

Emanuel lives on the same street that Breen did -- the 2000 block of Druid Park Drive -- in a neighboring community across the Jones Falls Expressway from where the two incidents occurred. The boys knew each other.

`Strange type of crime'

Police would not say whether the shooting and stabbing are related, but they said both youngsters were out late, away from their homes and in an area at the southern edge of Hampden with a reputation for drug trafficking.

"One of the questions to be asked is, What is a school-aged kid doing out on a school night in an area of drug activity?" Biemiller said. "It's just a strange type of crime. Why would someone shoot a kid like this? The shooter could have easily overpowered a 12-year-old kid."

Police said the gunman was driven away by others in a Burgundy car.

Several of Emanuel's friends were on the porch when officers pulled up, police said. Emanuel was taken to Sinai Hospital and was transferred to Hopkins, which has a pediatric trauma center.

Emanuel's friends said the youngster had a history of sneaking out of his house late at night. Lisa Johnston, 19, who lives at the home where Emanuel was shot, said the boy's mother had been looking for him Sunday night.

"His mother just said to me three days ago, `I hate [that] he keeps sneaking out because I'm afraid he's going to end up like Angus,' " Johnston said.

Johnston, her roommate, Jaime Preston, 21, and her friend, Yohans Ghebrekidan, 18, said Emanuel and Breen knew each other. But they were adamant that neither child came in contact with drug activity.

Chris Mangan, a Woodberry youth who was robbed before Emanuel was shot, said he was not the target.

"They had the gun right to my head," he said yesterday. "I didn't really think they were going to shoot us. After Nick got shot, I jumped over the fence. The guys were running away at that time."

Neighborhood memorial

The shooting yesterday and the stabbing in June have unnerved a neighborhood more known for its shops along West 36th Street than for violence. Breen had been stabbed while walking to the light rail, on his way to watch a movie in Timonium.

Blocks from where Breen was killed, residents have turned a corner pole into a memorial. Nearly a dozen stuffed animals have been tacked to the pole, and a white cross bears the words: "We Love Angus M. Breen."

Johnston said more stuffed animals were on the pole, but they have been stolen. She said she and her 3-year-old son, Keith Martin Jr., plan to move from the neighborhood as soon as possible.

Pub Date: 9/21/99

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