Man who says he saw killings in Dec. arrested after shots fired at police

5 women were shot in Belair-Edison

February 04, 2000|By Tim Craig and Rafael Alvarez | Tim Craig and Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

The man who claims to have witnessed and survived the carnage on Elmley Avenue in Northeast Baltimore in December -- during which five women were killed in drug-related violence that hasn't been fully explained -- was arrested at the scene of the killings yesterday after a handgun was fired at police.

Police said Ronald Lee McNeil, 37, of the house in the 3500 block of Elmley Ave. in Belair-Edison where the killings occurred Dec. 5, was taken into custody about 6: 45 a.m. after officers arrived with a warrant for his arrest.

The arrest followed an incident Monday in which a woman who lives two blocks away on Elmora Avenue was allegedly forced at gunpoint to phone a male relative to come to the house.

A statement of charges filed in Baltimore District Court says the gunman was McNeil, who, the document says, told the woman to "get him over here, so I can do him."

After McNeil threatened the woman for a period of time, the charging document says, police arrived. McNeil assured officers that there was nothing wrong and left. Based on a report of that incident, police showed up at McNeil's house yesterday morning with a warrant for his arrest.

Police said that while officers were on the first floor of the Elmley Avenue home, McNeil fired four shots from a 9 mm handgun from the top of the stairs. Police, who did not return fire, arrested McNeil.

McNeil was being held last night at the Central Booking Intake Center on charges of first-degree assault and weapons charges relating to yesterday's events. He is charged with false imprisonment in the incident Monday against Priscilla A. Harrison of the 3500 block of Elmora Avenue.

Neighbors said yesterday McNeil and Harrison are the parents of a baby boy.

According to the charging document, McNeil made a phone call shortly after forcing Harrison upstairs and told an unknown person on the line: "I got her here, I'm going to get some questions answered."

When Harrison became hysterical after seeing that McNeil was armed, the document says, he told her to shut up or be killed. Harrison's mother called a short time later, and McNeil reportedly hung up on her. Police arrived about an hour later. After persuading officers that all was well, McNeil told Harrison, according to the charges, "If you breathe a word of this to anyone, I know where your family lives."

The women killed Dec. 5 were Mary McNeil Matthews, 39; her mother, Mary H. Collien, 54; and her daughter Makisha Jenkins, 18; Trennell Alston, 26; and LeVanna Spearman, 23. The next morning Matthews' son, Iavares McNeil, 22, was found dead behind a nearby elementary school. Four men were indicted last month on murder charges in the shootings of the women.

McNeil -- convicted of assault with intent to murder in 1993 and sentenced to six years in prison -- has told reporters that he witnessed the slayings of the five women, including his mother, sister and niece. He said he escaped by playing dead. Police have refused to confirm or deny that.

Police said yesterday that they are investigating whether McNeil's arrest is connected to the killings in December.

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