Ex-city man shot and killed on his sailboat in Guatemala

Robbery was apparent motive, relatives say

June 17, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A 40-year-old man who used to live on a sailboat in Baltimore and was active in the arts was shot in the head and killed last week while visiting Guatemala, relatives said.

The family members said Steve Gartman, who moved to Florida in 1996, was killed on his 36-foot sailboat, the Sea Lion, during an apparent robbery. They said the boat was docked on the Rio Dulce, near the eastern coast of Guatemala, at the time of the incident. There have been no arrests, they said.

Gartman, a drummer who helped run the annual Baltimore International Rhythm Festival, was found dead June 8 by other boaters.

His wife, Laura Marino, a native of Colombia, said she flew to Guatemala and was allowed to read the police report. She said Gartman was last seen alive June 4. He had been shot once in the leg and four times in the head, she said.

Guatemalan authorities could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, a source at the U.S. State Department confirmed the death. The source said U.S. officials are monitoring the investigation in Guatemala, as is routine in the death of an American abroad.

Gartman grew up in Pennsylvania and had lived in Baltimore for about eight years before moving to southern Florida. He ran a computer consulting company.

His mother, Dorothy Gartman, said he lived on his boat at various marinas, including ones in Fells Point and Canton.

He was active in the arts and specialized in drumming. In 1994, he was one of 20 local poets, musicians and artists to take part in a Father's Day play, "No Lawyers in Loincloths," that examined aspects of men's lives.

"He was quite well known within the drumming community," said a friend, Rory Turner, a member of the Maryland State Arts Council.

Gartman met his wife after moving to Florida. Marino, who was working for a Colombian engineering company with offices in Miami, was visiting a boat show when she met Gartman. They married last year.

"She was his soul mate," Mrs. Gartman said yesterday.

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