Teens held in killing

Murder is charged in fatal shooting linked to crime spree

5 holdups, 4 carjackings

Robberies occurred in 5 1/2 hours overnight in northeast of city

November 25, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Three teen-agers were charged yesterday in the killing of a man during an apparent robbery attempt that police say was part of a marathon crime spree in Northeast Baltimore.

Investigators said they are reviewing five holdups in which 11 people were robbed and four carjackings that occurred over 5 1/2 hours Monday night and early Tuesday.

The suspects were being held at the Central Booking and Intake Center while awaiting an initial appearance before a District Court commissioner yesterday. Court officials said they would most likely have their first court appearance tommorrow.

Cory Alvin Tutt, 18, of the 1600 block of Burnwood Road; Davon Alston, 16, of the 1900 block of Burnwood Road; and Renyse Jones, 18, of the 2600 block of N. Dukeland St. were charged with first-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a felony. Alston was charged as an adult.

Tutt's grandmother, Rachel Coleman, 72, said her grandson had dropped out of Northern High School last year and had recently stopped attending classes at a private religious school near their Northeast Baltimore home. "I did my best," Coleman said yesterday, hearing about the criminal charges for the first time from a reporter. "I did all I could do to keep him from hanging out with bad kids. "

The man killed has been identified as Tacy Raino Ranta, 50, who was shot in the chest a block from his home in the 4400 block of Parkside Drive in Belair-Edison. The former city school teacher was a leader of Tranquility, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center for people interested in changing their gender.

Ranta had lobbied in Annapolis on hate crime bills. He was walking to the European Union, a bar he frequented on Belair Road, and was wearing women's clothes when he was shot once in the chest, police said. They also said they have no evidence the shooting was a hate crime and have linked it to the robbery spree. They have not determined whether anything was taken.

Detectives charged a fourth man who they said was with the other suspects. Aaron Brewer, 23, of the 1900 block of Swansea Road was charged with handgun possession.

Police said the suspects were found Tuesday morning in a motel room in Pikesville, with two stolen cars parked outside and two 9 mm handguns hidden in the room.

A woman who was in the motel room was released without charges. Police said two other teens in the room were charged as juveniles with drug possession but were not linked to the robberies.

The incidents began about 6: 45 p.m. Monday with a robbery on Harford Road near Clifton Park. From there, attacks were reported throughout the night and early morning on streets including York Road, Erdman Avenue, Northbourne Road and The Alameda. None of the drivers was injured in the carjackings.

Victims included a Giant Food manager leaving his house and a Morgan State University student whose car was rammed near the school. "This very violent crime spree can be described as random and reckless," said police spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr.

Police said some of the stolen cars were used in other crimes, sometimes within a half-hour of their being taken. An Oldsmobile stolen from York Road at 8: 45 p.m. was used in the carjacking of a Chrysler at 9: 30 p.m. That Chrysler was used in two robberies and a carjacking between 10 p.m. and 11: 30 p.m.

One of the biggest puzzles for police is determining how the series of events developed. Though department officials have called it "well planned," they have not identified a ringleader.

Col. John E. Gavrilis, chief of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, said yesterday that detectives are fanning out across North Baltimore and Northeast Baltimore reinterviewing victims from other robberies and carjackings to see if any can be linked to the group.

Few details could be learned yesterday about those arrested. Two -- Tutt and Brewer -- have been arrested by police as adults. Brewer was found guilty two years ago of stealing merchandise from a Nordstrom store and possession of marijuana. He was sentenced to a year of probation.

Tutt is facing a court hearing next month on gun possession charges that were filed, police said, after he accidentally shot himself in the left hand with a two-shot Derringer while sitting in a car with his mother in a Kmart parking lot in Baltimore County.

A store clerk heard the shot and called police about 6: 10 p.m. Sept. 20. Officers did not arrest Tutt at the time but charged him in a criminal summons with four counts of gun-related charges, including reckless endangerment, discharging a firearm and possession of a handgun.

Coleman said she would not allow Tutt's friends in her home. She said her daughter -- Tutt's mother, Carolyn Tutt, 43 -- counsels developmentally disabled children. She said her grandson got into repeated trouble as a youngster, but not because of drugs or violent behavior, and was in advanced reading classes while in the eighth grade.

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