Police seeking teens in killing

Hotel party guests may have had role in Columbia shooting

1 youth dead, 1 wounded

January 16, 2001|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

Howard County police are seeking additional teen-agers who attended a surprise birthday party at a Columbia hotel Saturday night where a shooting left a high school student dead and a classmate critically wounded.

It marks the second time in as many months that students at Long Reach High School - where both victims were seniors - have been left to deal with the loss of a classmate.

Andre Devonne Corinaldi, 18, who lived in Columbia, was killed. Lauren Nicole Perkins, 17, of Elkridge was in critical condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The double shooting at Courtyard by Marriott, on Stanford Boulevard, occurred two months after Ashley Nicole Mason, a 14-year-old Long Reach freshman, was found fatally stabbed behind a Pizza Hut on Route 108.

"When Ashley Mason passed, everyone was terrified up and down the school," Corey Murphy, a sophomore and one of Corinaldi's neighbors, said yesterday. "[Andre] was really popular. People are used to sitting next to him in class.

"I know there's going to be a lot of crying."

Ashley Mason was the first Long Reach student killed since the school opened in 1996.

Corinaldi's death was Howard County's first homicide of the year in what neighbors say is supposed to be a safe, quiet suburb.

As of last night, Howard County police had made no arrests. They said they were looking for uninvited party guests who might have been involved.

The shooting occurred just before 11 p.m. at a party at the hotel in Corporate Park, near Route 175 and Snowden River Parkway, and near a popular shopping center and usually crowded restaurants.

Long Reach, in East Columbia, has become the focal point of discussions about crime and how best to deal with what some residents fear is the deterioration of the planned community's oldest neighborhoods.

Police said an argument broke out during the party, which was held in adjoining rooms, 123 and 125. They said several shots were fired from one room into the other, apparently through a door that was left open so that partygoers could wander through the makeshift suite.

It was unclear whether the victims were targeted, said police. Both students were shot in the head. Corinaldi was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers had been called about someone with a gun and were on their way when the shots were fired, said Mike Walker, general manager of the 152-room hotel, where weekend room rates range from $69 to $89.

Guests had complained

Earlier in the evening, guests in the room above the party had complained to the front desk about the noise. "We told them, `You can't have parties here,'" Walker said.

The hotel has no policy against renting rooms to people younger than 18, he said, adding that he didn't know the age of the person who registered.

"If you can pay for the room, we can't discriminate against you," Walker said.

Very little alcohol was found at the party, said Howard County Police Cpl. Paul Yodzis. No weapon has been recovered, and police know of no motive or suspects in the shooting, he said.

Police interviewed almost 20 guests and were looking for some who fled before officers arrived. Some uninvited guests attended the party and might have been involved, Yodzis said.

David Bruzga, who has been principal at Long Reach High since it opened five years ago, said he is dazed by what happened.

"You really don't ever expect people that you work with, young people particularly, to become victims of senseless violence," he said. "It's just shocking, to say the least."

Counseling available

Counselors and psychologists will be at the school today, as they were after Ashley Mason was killed. Two neighbors have been charged in her death.

"We're just getting over [Mason's slaying] now," Bruzga said. "To deal with a similar event is going to be even more difficult."

Perkins is a performer and is active in the school's dance and choral programs.

Corinaldi was an athlete, a varsity football player in 1999 who ran track in the spring.

"He liked to go to the movies and the mall and get girls and stuff," said his friend, Murphy. "He always had friends. He never got in fights or anything like that."

Bruzga said, "He was just a friendly, outgoing, well-mannered, well-liked student. He just impressed me as a fine young man."

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