Waverly killings laid to revenge

Suspect's brother was killed a week earlier at same place

March 08, 2001|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The shootings that claimed three lives in North Baltimore's Waverly neighborhood two weeks ago were motivated by revenge for a double killing a week earlier in the same community, city police said yesterday.

Otis Edwards III, 25, who was charged Tuesday in the Feb. 24 killings, is the brother of Dontai Edwards, 21, one of the victims in the Feb. 18 shootings.

Agent Angelique Cook-Hayes, a city police spokeswoman, said investigators believe that Otis Edwards' motive was retaliation. The reason his younger brother was killed remains unknown, police said.

"We haven't established a motive in that one," said Detective William Ritz of the homicide unit. "I haven't had anyone identified yet."

Ritz said he is not sure whether any of the victims in the triple killing are connected to the earlier double killing. He said a witness who might know is not cooperating.

The shootings, which left five people dead and another man paralyzed from the neck down, stunned Waverly and prompted calls for more police patrols to combat drugs, which police speculate might have been a motive.

Edwards was ordered held without bail yesterday by District Court Judge Jack Lesser, pending a tentative April 2 trial date. Police said they are seeking an accomplice whom they have not identified.

The first killings occurred Feb. 18 about 7:20 p.m. outside the Waverly Apartments in the 700 block of Exeter Hall Ave. Police investigating a report of shots fired found Dontai Edwards, 21, dead in front of a townhouse. Brandon Wilkins, 25, the son of a retired state social worker, died a short time later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Six days later and yards away, four people were shot while inside or climbing into a 1998 Honda Civic. A fifth target, outside the car, fled and was not injured.

Police identified the dead as Tony Blizzard Jr., 18, Donte Weddington, 25, and Jamal Fisher, 18. Timothy James, 18, was shot once in the back of the head and remains at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, paralyzed from the neck down.

Court charging documents filed yesterday describe those shootings as calculated executions, with two gunmen, one standing on each side of the Honda, each shooting two people from behind.

Police said they charged Edwards, who lives in the first block of Dowling Circle in Hillendale, with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a violent crime. After a search that lasted several days, he was arrested in a friend's house in the 1800 block of E. 28th St.

The victims in the latest attack were close friends, and some were related. Weddington and Fisher were first cousins.

Weddington, family members have said, was about to be offered a job at a nursing home the day he was shot. Fisher was a ninth-grader at Lake Clifton/Eastern High School.

Fisher's mother, also Weddington's aunt, said yesterday that the four victims from Feb. 24 did not know Edwards or the victims from the Feb. 18 shootings.

The woman, who declined to give her name, said the shootings were a case of mistaken identity and "a case of anger. The arrest is not going to bring them back."

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