Five women were found shot to death in a Northeast Baltimore rowhouse last night, capping a violent weekend in which 10 people were killed by gunfire in the city, police reported.
The women, believed to be related, died of multiple gunshot wounds at the home in the 3500 block of Elmley Ave. in Belair-Edison, police said. They were targeted and the shootings were not random, police said. Names of the five were not released last night.
Witnesses saw a group of men leaving the neighborhood in a 1992 gold Nissan Maxima shortly before 7:30 p.m. Minutes later, police received a 911 call reporting a shooting in the house.
A half-hour later, occupants of a car matching that description were involved in a carjacking attempt at the McDonald's restaurant at East 29th Street and Greenmount Avenue in North Baltimore, said Agent Ragina L. Cooper, a police spokeswoman.
The intended carjacking victim ran into the McDonald's, pursued by one of the suspects. Warren Brooks, who has served for 18 months as a Baltimore school police officer, was moonlighting as a plainclothes security guard at the McDonald's, said Leonard Hamm, school police chief. When the suspect pointed his weapon at the officer, Brooks drew his handgun and fired once, Hamm said.
The suspect dropped his weapon and fled, police said. The weapon was recovered, but police would not describe it last night.
The suspects fled in the Nissan.
"Apparently, a patron was driving through the drive-through. We believe the suspects in this case attempted to carjack that person," Cooper said. "The suspects then attempted to go into the McDonald's, and they were fired upon by an off-duty school officer."
Court records list the owner of the house where the shootings occurred as Mary McNeil.
Neighbors said that a woman moved in a little more than a year ago and that few knew her or the younger women at the home who were thought to be her daughters.
Residents in this racially mixed, working-class neighborhood said there were often visitors to the two-story rowhouse where the bodies were found. The visitors would double park on Elmley Avenue and run in the house, neighbors said.
But aside from occasionally playing music too loudly, neighbors said the people living in the house were quiet.
E. Lynn Wolf, who has lived across the street for six years, said she was aware of the comings and goings of young women who appeared to be in their teens and 20s. On warm days, Wolf said, one of the young women frequently could be seen filling a small blue wading pool on the front porch so a toddler could splash in it.
Wolf said she had never noticed any problems at the house or anywhere on the street.
"The biggest trouble we have here is kids riding go-carts," Wolf said. "And the worst thing I've heard happening is four or five years ago, someone got their pocketbook snatched."
Police said last night that they did not consider the shooting a domestic incident. Col. John E. Gavrilis, head of the criminal investigation division, described the shootings as an "inside job," meaning that all the victims were targets.
A neighbor said he watched as five men approached the house, acting suspiciously.
"As I looked at them, they looked back at me and acted as though they were up to something no good," said the man, who lives several doors away but did not want to be named. The Nissan bore Maryland license plate GGB-562.
Police said at least two semiautomatic weapons were used in the killings, and it appeared that everyone who was in the house when the gunmen arrived was killed.
Police found the body of a woman believed to be in her 60s in the kitchen, and discovered the other four bodies in the club basement. One victim was found slumped in a chair; the others were sprawled on the floor, police said.
All had been shot several times in what police called an "execution-style" slaying. Police said it did not appear that the house had been ransacked.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who described the incident as a "mass murder," visited the crime scene yesterday evening and reassured Belair-Edison residents that the neighborhood is safe.
"This neighborhood during this incident should not be concerned with a random marauding group of people," Schmoke said. "It appears the killers in this horrific incident targeted the victims -- we are not involved in a spree of crime here."
A crisis team was sent to the scene to help distraught relatives deal with the situation, mayor said, saying that even hardened police officers were affected. In addition to the Elmley Avenue murders, at least 20 other shootings occurred in the city this weekend -- five of them fatal, police said.
Early yesterday, Lionel Robinson, 23, died after being shot in the chest during an argument with two unidentified suspects outside his Southwest Baltimore home, police said.
Witnesses told police the suspects fled on foot after the 12:45 a.m. incident in the 2600 block of Marbourne Ave., in the Lakeland neighborhood. Police discovered Robinson's body in the back yard.