Man fatally shot on E. Baltimore corner

Killing is 14th of year

crime forum is today

January 18, 2000|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

Baltimore recorded its 14th homicide of the year yesterday when a 24-year-old man was fatally shot on what police say is a busy corner for marijuana dealing in East Baltimore.

Police said Joseph Ross, of no fixed address, was shot at least twice near the corner of Eager and Castle streets about 11: 30 a.m. and stumbled into a vacant house in the 900 block of N. Castle St.

He stumbled out of the house and collapsed on the front steps, where police answering a call for a shooting found him.

Ross died a short time later at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Police said they knew of no motive in the shooting.

The killing, the fourth of the holiday weekend, came the day before acting police Commissioner Ronald L. Daniel and his newly appointed top deputies were to meet the public at the first of two scheduled forums.

"There is no question [yesterday's shooting] heightens the urgency to get the new police structure in place," said Tony White, a spokesman for Mayor Martin O'Malley.

The forums, sponsored by the City Council's public safety committee, are scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at Polytechnic Institute, 1400 W. Cold Spring Lane, and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow at Dunbar Middle School, 500 N. Caroline St.

Daniel and his deputy commissioners -- former New York Deputy Commissioner Edward T. Norris and former Baltimore police Lt. Richard P. Reiman Jr. -- will answer questions from the public and City Council members about proposed crime-fighting strategies. Norris is to be in charge of police operations, while Reiman will oversee police administration.

The council will hold formal confirmation hearings on Daniel's appointment in two weeks, and a vote is expected a week after the hearings, said council President Sheila Dixon.

"The community meetings are designed to find out what are the crime problems and how the commissioner plans to address those problems," said Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr., a 1st District councilman. Daniel is likely to be questioned about the deadly start to the new year, D'Adamo said. The homicide total is one more than at this time last year, and 47 nonfatal shootings have occurred -- the same number as at this time last year.

"I think people expected the day after [O'Malley and Daniel] took office there would not be another murder or any more drugs on the corner," D'Adamo said. "But I don't think we can blame the police commissioner. He has only been there for 10 days, and it took us 12 years to get into this mess."

Daniel, a 26-year department veteran, would not comment yesterday on the weekend slayings but said he is "concerned" that police have made arrests in only seven of the nonfatal shootings.

Police arrested suspects in fewer than one-third of the city's nonfatal shootings last year.

Daniel said he has temporarily withheld a proposal to reverse the dismal arrest rates by transferring detectives who investigate nonfatal shootings from the homicide unit at police headquarters downtown to district stations.

Then-acting Commissioner Bert L. Shirey had ordered the move in late December, to get more detectives on the streets.

Daniel said he wants Norris to have a chance to review the proposal. "I don't want to decentralize and if it does not work, have to bring them back down" to police headquarters, he said.

A decision on the move is expected by late next month, Daniel said.

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