E. Baltimore man held in shooting of city officer

Detectives say he may be linked to victim of earlier police killing

Retaliation a possibility

March 28, 2001|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

City police arrested a suspect yesterday in the shooting of an officer Monday, and said they are investigating whether the gunfire was retaliation for the fatal police shooting of a man earlier that day.

Detectives said the 26-year-old East Baltimore man charged with shooting Officer Willie D. Grandy might be related to or a friend of the man officers killed in Southeast Baltimore Monday morning.

Donnell A. Ward of the 1300 block of Treeleaf Court, a cluster of hidden walkways and townhouses in the Somerset public housing community, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and was being questioned by homicide detectives last night. He was arrested while walking up an east-side street about noon yesterday.

Police said Ward's relatives told them he was the cousin of Damon Hilton, 24, of the 1100 block of N. Bond St., who was fatally shot by police about 12 hours before Grandy was shot. Detectives later said the men's mothers may be cousins.

Ward's family could not be reached yesterday. Hilton's mother, Donna Hilton, 48, who lives in Madison Square in East Baltimore, said the Ward name sounded familiar, but she would not say if they were related.

A man at her house, who identified himself as the dead man's older brother but would not give his name, said no one was trying to get back at police. "What would that solve?" he said.

Deputy Commissioner Barry W. Powell said a relationship between Hilton and Ward could help explain the shooting in which Grandy was wounded in the leg while arresting a 16-year-old on a marijuana charge.

"We'd have to find out if there were any motivating factors," Powell said. Last night, detectives said interviews with Ward have been fruitless. They said even if the two are related, the shootings still could be coincidence.

Police said Grandy was ambushed by a man who walked up behind him during the arrest in the 700 block of Wharton Court, three blocks west of Johns Hopkins Hospital, and fired at least two shots, hitting the officer and the youth he had handcuffed. Ward was charged with a second count of attempted murder in the shooting of the youth.

Officers saw the suspected gunman run into a house, and they quickly cordoned off several square blocks during a two-hour standoff with the five occupants. They stormed the dwelling and took three men into custody.

Early yesterday, police released the three and said the gunman apparently escaped through the back door. A woman who answered the door at the house but refused to give her name said yesterday the gunman never was inside, and the occupants didn't open the door because police told them to stay inside.

Police would not say how they learned the shooting suspect's identity.

Ward has been arrested four times since 1994, twice on drug charges, but never convicted. His latest arrest occurred in April, when an officer reported seeing him take part in what police suspected was a drug transaction in the 2400 block of E. Monument St.

Hilton, the man killed by police on Monday, had a more extensive criminal record. He pleaded guilty in April 1998 to possession of drugs with intent to distribute after city Housing Authority officers arrested him in a raid of a house in the 400 block of Aisquith St.

Police said they found Hilton lying in bed on top of two small bags of marijuana, and also discovered 21 small bags of heroin in the home.

Hilton was sentenced to 18 months in prison and served most of his sentence before being released and placed on probation.

Court records show he kept his appointments for drug testing but was arrested Jan. 22 after he was shot in the leg in the 1400 block of E. Eager St. He walked to Hopkins, where a doctor reported finding 18 vials containing crack cocaine secreted in his body.

Police charged Hilton with possession with intent to distribute drugs; his trial had been scheduled for early next month.

Hilton's mother said her son was trying to turn his life around and find a job.

Police said Hilton had a powerful .44-caliber revolver with an 8-inch barrel when he was pulled from a stolen car about 12:30 a.m. Monday in front of a restaurant at Highland and Foster avenues.

That is an area where several recent taverns have been held up. Police said they believe the people in the car were casing the restaurant, but have not linked them to the other holdups.

Police said Hilton shot Officer Anthony R. Molesky, 37, once in each leg, and was then shot several times and killed by Molesky and officers Kurt H. Nagl Jr. and Mark P. Daugherty.

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