Man, 20, charged in carjacking, fatal shooting

September 20, 2001|By Del Quentin Wilber and Jason Song | Del Quentin Wilber and Jason Song,SUN STAFF

A 20-year-old man has been arrested and charged in the carjacking and fatal shooting of a man who was believed to have been operating an unlicensed cab last week, city police said yesterday.

Matthew Bethea of the 5000 block of Conant Way was charged with first-degree murder and armed carjacking in the death of Hugh J. Brice Jr., 45, of the 6500 block of Eberle Drive in Northwest Baltimore, said homicide Detective Ray Laslett.

Brice was found shot once in the torso about 11:45 p.m. Sept. 13 in the 3200 block of Burleith Ave., Laslett said. He died about a half-hour later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Laslett said Brice's car was missing, and he had been operating as an unlicensed cabbie, or "hack." Officer Bryan Ruth spotted the car Sunday and tried to stop it. It crashed in the 2400 block of Frederick Ave., Laslett said. Police caught several people running from the car, including Bethea, and questioned them, Laslett said.

Several witnesses said Bethea had been driving the car, and Bethea acknowledged he had carjacked Brice's cab and shot him in the vehicle, according to charging documents filed in Baltimore District Court.

Bethea was charged Monday and ordered held without bail Tuesday by a District Court judge.

Brice was one of about six unlicensed cabbies killed this year, police said. The most recent cases involve two men who were shot and killed within days of each other in Clifton Park.

"It's illegal, and it's a dangerous thing to do," said Ragina C. Averella, a police spokeswoman. Police said most carjackings of hackers go unreported because the victims fear being charged with operating an unlicensed cab.

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