Boy, 16, killed, 4 hurt in east-side shooting

Two men approached youth, asked for drugs, according to witnesses

July 18, 2001|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed early yesterday in East Baltimore and four others were wounded in an incident that police said they were still trying to unravel.

A gunman shot Tony Watson from only a few feet away, hitting him in the chest, police said. The shooting occurred about 12:15 a.m. while Watson was sitting on a stoop in the 900 block of N. Collington Ave.

Watson died about 3 a.m. at Johns Hopkins Hospital, police said. Several other people who had been sitting nearby were wounded, police said. All were treated and released from city hospitals.

Family and friends recalled Watson yesterday as a "good kid" who enjoyed fixing televisions and other electronic equipment. He was going to be a sophomore at Lake Clifton-Eastern High School, his family said. He lived with his mother and cousins in the 1400 block of E. Federal St., about three-quarters of a mile away.

"He had a heart of gold," said his mother, Pearl Venable, 41.

Police said two men approached the group. Witnesses said one of the men asked Watson whether he had "any weed."

Watson replied, "No, I don't sell weed," and the men walked away, witnesses said.

A few minutes later, the two men returned, and one took out a handgun, witnesses said. The man said, "It's nothing personal," said one witness who requested anonymity. He then shot Watson, police and witnesses said.

Several people sitting on nearby stoops scattered and the gunman chased them into a rowhouse and opened fire, wounding four people.

Police raided that house and recovered 160 vials of suspected cocaine, another 1 1/2 ounces of suspected cocaine, a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and several boxes of ammunition, police said.

Latasha Jackson, 22, was sitting on the stoop with Watson when the shooting started. She was grazed on her left leg.

"I was scared," Jackson said.

When police first arrived at the scene, they thought the shooting might have something to do with gang violence that has shaken East Baltimore in recent months, police officials said.

Tavon D. Dixon, 20, lived in the 900 block of N. Collington Ave. Dixon had been charged until this week in the shooting death of a gang leader in November. That killing allegedly sparked retaliatory violence that led to the Memorial Day mass shooting of 12 people at 2032 E. North Ave. One person died in that attack.

Prosecutors dropped the case against Dixon on Monday. Police said they had found evidence that exonerated him. Dixon has been charged with federal cocaine possession and is being held without bail at the city detention center.

Police said they do not believe yesterday's shooting is related to the past violence and they have several leads on potential suspects in yesterday's shooting.

Anyone with information can call Detective Keith Benson at 410-396-2100.

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