Man held in fire, killing

Police say suspect identified by dying victim of attack

4 in house when blaze hit

Arundel resident shot by `affiliate' who had long record, police say

January 20, 2001|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Lying in the back of an ambulance, hours from death, a wounded Andre Darnell Samuel told police the name of the suspect in a bizarre arson-and-shooting attack that destroyed his family's home and left his grandmother critically burned.

Yesterday, police charged a suspect - the man named by Samuel in the attack early Thursday at the family's Anne Arundel County home - with first-degree murder and arson, authorities said.

Kevin Hartford Bass, 28, of the 2100 block of Tucker Lane in Baltimore was taken into custody Thursday evening in Northwest Baltimore.

He was described by police as a "known affiliate" of Samuel - and according to court documents had once been a defense witness in a criminal case against Samuel's younger brother, Corey.

Court records show an extensive arrest record for Bass, and convictions on drug, assault and weapons charges.

Bass was ordered held without bail in a brief hearing before a District Court commissioner in Annapolis, and taken to the county detention center on Jennifer Road.

The attack occurred shortly before 3:30 a.m., beginning with the fire that investigators say was set intentionally near a rear sliding glass door, where traces of an accelerant were found.

Awakened by the smell of smoke and an alarm sounding in the house, members of the household fled - with Samuel and his mother, Janie Samuel, 46, shot as they ran out the front door, police said.

A fourth family member escaped unhurt, authorities said yesterday, but they would not confirm whether it was Corey Samuel.

Janie Samuel, who has worked as a software analyst, was released after treatment at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Andre Samuel died there about 7 a.m. Thursday. His grandmother, Rhunette J. Fisk, 64, remained in critical condition last night in the regional burn unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Witnesses told investigators that a man fitting Bass' description was seen in the neighborhood jumping into the passenger side of a white minivan, which sped away from the fiery crime scene, according to charging documents filed in District Court yesterday.

Bass is the listed owner of a white Mazda MPV minivan, the documents said.

"Investigators are trying to determine if there are others involved," said Officer Charles Ravenell, a county police spokesman.

Bass was stopped in a vehicle in the Forest Park neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore about 7 p.m. Thursday by county detectives.

Kevin Bass is named in court records as having been a defense witness in a 1998 criminal case against Corey Samuel, who had been charged with theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and malicious destruction of property. The outcome of the case could not be determined yesterday.

Authorities declined to comment on any relationship between Bass and the victims, except for the statement in charging documents that Bass was a "known affiliate" of Andre Samuel.

A motive for the attack had not been established, Ravenell said yesterday.

Anyone with information about the case was asked to call Anne Arundel County police at 410-222-3456.

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