Waverly Apartment residents said yesterday they are terrified by the violence that has claimed five lives in the past week, and some fear the most recent weekend killings might not be the end of the carnage.
Though many in Waverly speculate that last weekend's shootings were retaliation for two killings in the area six days before, police did not reveal a definite motive in the shootings. Maj. Robert Biemiller, commander of the Northern District, said drugs "might be the motive" for the "outlandish" incidents.
Police continued questioning residents and relatives of the victims for clues in the shootings and names of suspects. None was identified yesterday in either set of shootings.
Biemiller held a news conference at 1:30 p.m., yards from the site of the Feb. 18 shooting that killed Dontai Edwards, 21, and Brandon Wilkins, 25. The most recent shootings, in which Tony Blizzard Jr., 18, Jamal Fisher, 18, and Donte Weddington, 25, were killed, occurred in a parking lot across the street from where Edwards and Wilkins were shot.
Fisher, Weddington and Timothy James were in a parked car shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday when shots were fired. Blizzard, who had been standing outside the car, was pronounced dead at the scene. James, 18, was listed in serious but stable condition last night at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. A fourth man in the car, whose name is being withheld by The Sun, was not injured.
The shootings raised to 42 the number of people killed in Baltimore this year.
"Increased patrols will run around the clock," Biemiller said of the police presence in the North Baltimore neighborhood, where neatly kept lawns are dotted with flower beds. "I think it's a wake-up call, anytime you have this amount of violence in this small community; ... you definitely got to get in and address it."
Dennis Dubose, 47, Weddington's stepfather, said last night that Weddington and Fisher were first cousins. Their mothers are twins, and Fisher's mother lives in the Waverly Apartments, he said.
"They were like brothers," Dubose said of Weddington and Fisher, adding that the five men in Saturday's shootings were good friends.
Weddington had been job hunting, Dubose said, and though his background was in telemarketing, a Baltimore nursing home called him yesterday to offer a job.
"He had a good sense of humor," Dubose said. "He was liked by everyone that he came in contact with."
Dubose said Weddington was in good spirits when family members last saw him Saturday. He said Weddington told him that he and the others were going out that night.
"We're just trying to figure out why this might have happened," Dubose said. "All we know is that they [police] took two cars from off the parking lot and were searching for fingerprints, and they're searching the shells for fingerprints. They asked us whether we knew anything."
Dubose said Weddington had not been in trouble with authorities "to his knowledge."
District Court records show that Fisher was charged last month with second-degree assault, a case that prosecutors dropped. Fisher was a ninth-grader at Lake Clifton/Eastern High School, where his attendance was poor, school officials said.
Lake Clifton officials planned to have a crisis intervention team at the school today for students who might need to discuss Fisher's death.
Wilkins, a victim in the Feb. 18 shooting, had been arrested several times as an adult and had convictions including theft and possession of a concealed rifle, for which he served a year in prison in 1995.
Edwards, also killed Feb. 18, had recently become a father. A picture of him holding his daughter -- now 3 months old -- was taped yesterday to a tree in front of where he died.
Nearly two dozen balloons adorned the tree, including some heart-shaped ones that read "I love you." Flowers and a small, white teddy bear also adorned the tree.
As Biemiller spoke to reporters and Waverly residents yesterday, Edwards' funeral was ending. Two women who said they had attended the services said they were too upset to talk as they walked by the memorial.
Biemiller said the Waverly community had been fairly quiet. He acknowledged that residents had tried to schedule a meeting with him a few weeks before the first shootings, to discuss property break-ins and other area crimes.
"I spoke to a community leader at the `Mayor's Night In' about a week and a half ago," Biemiller said. "We discussed increased patrol about some break-ins, not violent crime like this."
Biemiller said he intends to meet Thursday with the Better Waverly Community Organization board to discuss increased patrols.
The community lost its Police Athletic League center a year ago. Residents hope that a YMCA will be constructed on the Memorial Stadium site nearby to occupy young people and keep them away from violence.
Paula Branch, a member of the board of Better Waverly Community Organization, said the killings cast a black eye on a good neighborhood. She, like other Waverly residents, acknowledged some problems with drugs there.
"We have done so many positive things in this neighborhood," said Branch, a 12-year resident. "This sort of violence is unprecedented here, even for those apartments where we know there's a drug problem."
Branch said the shootings have caused many in Waverly -- particularly elderly residents -- to become fearful.
But Gary Eckrote, district property manager for Waverly Apartments, insisted that the 310-unit complex -- where rents range from $325 to $525 -- is safe. He said he plans to talk with the Better Waverly Community Organization about implementing a crime watch team, under the auspices of the police.
Sun staff writer Liz Bowie contributed to this article.