Owner fatally shot outside his restaurant

Wife and nephew are also hit

gunman flees in waiting car

228th homicide of year

A rowdy patron had been ejected from party earlier

November 21, 2001|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

The 36-year-old owner of a downtown restaurant was shot and killed early yesterday outside his business after his employees had thrown out a man who had become rowdy during a party, police said.

Shortly after the man was removed, someone approached Robert B. Wright about 1:35 a.m. outside his business, the Lighthouse Restaurant in the first block of Park Ave., police said.

The man pointed a handgun at Wright, who yelled for his wife and nephew, who were standing nearby, to run away.

The gunman opened fire, hitting all three, before hopping into a waiting car and fleeing, police said.

Wright died about 3:30 a.m. at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. His wife, Lucinda, 44, and his nephew Christopher Davis, 19, both of Baltimore, were treated and released from Shock Trauma, police said.

Police said detectives were continuing to pursue leads last night into the city's 228th homicide of the year.

Overcame troubles

Family members described Wright as a jovial man who overcame drug addiction and a lengthy criminal record several years ago and was trying to run the restaurant and a painting business.

"If there is one thing I'm proud of, it's that he turned his life around," said Wright's father, Willie Wright, 59. "He got up and stayed up. He was real positive."

Wright, known as "Bobby," grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Northern High School in 1982, family members said.

He almost immediately ran into trouble with drugs and the law, getting arrested on a variety of charges during the 1980s. He was found guilty of theft on two occasions.

Sometime in the late 1980s, family members said, Wright nearly died of a drug overdose. That spurred him to enter drug treatment, they said.

"He said he was tired, that he'd had enough of it," said his mother, Brenda Wright, 56. "He never looked back."

Turned to business

After that, Wright opened a painting business. He bought a motorcycle, which sat yesterday on the front lawn of his Govans home, its chrome polished to a mirror shine.

Despite making great strides in recovering from addiction and his criminal past, Wright appeared to slip in 1998. He was arrested on drug distribution charges and pleaded guilty a year later to possessing and intending to distribute drugs. He was sentenced to three years of probation.

Family members said they were unaware of that conviction. But they said it did not diminish their faith in the "backbone" of their family. They said Wright was always helping them with their problems.

Cedric Dyer, 35, a cousin, said he was abusing drugs a few years ago. But Wright spoke to him and that led to Dyer getting help.

"He said you have to get tired of seeing people with everything and you have nothing," Dyer said. "He gave me the advice I needed."

Family members said he purchased the Lighthouse about a year ago and it soon became a family affair. His wife holds the liquor license.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Darrell Townsend of the homicide unit at 410-396-2100.

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