Two teen-agers shot, killed in Columbia

Police say drugs found at scene

no motive or suspects known

November 30, 1999|By Erika Niedowski and Del Quentin Wilber | Erika Niedowski and Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Two young men were shot and killed yesterday near an apartment complex in Columbia, one of the worst crimes there in recent memory.

The Oakland Mills village neighborhood of Stevens Forest has been troubled by drug activity and petty crime, but many residents said the shootings in the densely populated area shocked and frightened them. The killings were the first in Columbia this year and brought to five the total for Howard County.

Late last night, police identified the victims as: Johnathan R. Barney, 19, of the 9400 block of Timesweep Lane; and Davon Mayfield, 18, of the 7100 block of Peace Chimes Court, both of Columbia.

Police were unable to determine a motive last night. No weapon was found, but they recovered an unspecified amount of drugs at the scene, said Howard County police spokesman Sgt. John Superson.

"We're looking at possibly other individuals" involved in the crime, Superson said.

Court records show Barney was charged in September with second-degree assault and giving a false statement to a police officer. In May, he was charged with possessing a handgun. In February, he was charged with drug possession with intent to distribute, first-degree assault and possessing a handgun.

It was not clear last night how those cases were resolved.

Soon after the shootings, before police identified Barney, his mother saw the commotion and walked toward Stevens Forest to see what was going on, fearing he might have been involved.

"My son's not home," explained Barney's mother, who lived with him.

County police responded to a call about 4: 20 p.m. reporting multiple gunshots in the woods behind the Tor apartment complex in the 5700 block of Stevens Forest Road, near Oakland Mills Village Center, Superson said.

Police said Mayfield staggered out of the woods behind the apartment buildings and collapsed in grass between two resident parking lots.

Officers found Barney near a paved pathway in the woods, police said.

Barney, who was wearing tan work boots and light-blue pants, was found lying face up near the bike path, the left side of his face bloody. He was wearing a home detention bracelet on his ankle, police said.

Officials searched for evidence, using floodlights attached to tripods. Up the hill, police searched for a bullet that might have hit a building at 5788 Stevens Forest Road.

"All I heard was about five or six shots," said a 58-year-old woman who was in her daughter's apartment in the Tor complex when the shootings took place. "I thought it was a car backfiring."

Yvette Edmond, 39, was washing her clothes in her first-floor apartment in the building that might have been hit. She heard five sounds like firecrackers, but quickly realized they were gunshots, she said.

"This is very unusual. There's been a break-in recently and some kids playing with BB guns, nothing major. Just small stuff," Edmond said.

Oakland Mills was a candidate this year to receive funding from the state's HotSpot crime prevention program, but another Columbia village, Harper's Choice, was recommended for that designation. Before Oakland Mills applied for the program, residents and officials banded with police to form a public safety group.

That group, called HOME, or Harness Oakland Mills Energy, was formed in part in response to a gunfire exchange near the village center last November, and continuing complaints about drug and alcohol use and loitering.

In recent months, several village businesses, including the Exxon station and the Royal Farm convenience store, both of which have since closed, were the target of armed robberies.

One woman, 34, who lives in the 5700 block of Stevens Forest Road and did not want to be identified, said the area has gone downhill. She said she often takes walks along the bike path where one of the bodies was found, but is reconsidering that.

"I don't even know if I'll go there again," she said. "I didn't think such an extreme thing could happen."

Jason Graves, 19, who moved from Oakland Mills to Hickory Ridge in August, heard about the shooting and returned to the area yesterday. When he moved to the area in February 1998, he said, "I heard this is one of the worst areas of Columbia. I saw a lot of fights by Royal Farm. People out all hours of the night."

Howard County's first homicide of the year occurred in March when a Baltimore woman, 52, was shot outside Circuit Court in Ellicott City. Her estranged husband was charged. An 8-month-old died in North Laurel in June and a 22-year-old was charged with murder. In September, an 18-year-old Beltsville man was shot in the head after a dispute, also in North Laurel. He died a week later.

Earl Jones, who represents Oakland Mills on the Columbia Council, was surprised to hear of yesterday's double shooting.

"That's just amazing," he said.

Robert Larsen, 17, a student at Lincoln Technical Institute in Columbia who lives in nearby Dorsey's Forge apartments, said the shooting surprised him, too.

"This is my first time living away from home, and it's a big scare," said Larsen. "I moved from Stafford, Va. -- I lived there for eight years and I heard of maybe one shooting."

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