Spate of homicides spurs plan for Baltimore vigil tonight

14 killings in 11 days alarm communities

March 28, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A spate of 14 killings in 11 days in Baltimore has alarmed church and community leaders and prompted them to call for calm and prayer.

In response to the eruption of violence between March 15 and Monday, a candlelight vigil is planned for tonight on Edgecombe Circle in Northwest Baltimore, near where Lisa Renee Brown and Oliver L. McCaffity Jr. were found shot to death in a car Feb. 28.

The Rev. Willie Ray, chairman and founder of Save Another Youth Inc. and Stop the Killing Coalition, said he and a coalition of church, community and political leaders originally planned the vigil for Brown, whose father is the Rev. Milton E. Brown, pastor of New Life Evangelical Baptist Church in East Baltimore.

But after the bodies of a homeless couple were found in woods in Brooklyn on Saturday; brothers Darryl and Anthony Wyche, 29 and 24 respectively, were found shot to death in a car in Northwest Baltimore early Monday; and Dana A. Mayers, 15, was shot to death in West Baltimore that night, Ray knew the vigil had to address each of those victims and their families.

"I'm getting tired of these vigils," Ray said last night, marking his 17th year leading vigils for homicide victims. "I've been tired."

Yet despite the recent rash of killings - an average of more than one a day - the city's homicide total is below what it was at this time last year.

By March 27 of last year, 58 people had been killed in the city, compared with 55 as of yesterday, said Officer Troy Harris, a police spokesman.

While Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said the recent spate of killings is disheartening, he doesn't plan to change his crime-fighting approach.

"This isn't unlike other spikes we've had," Norris said. "We don't feel alarmed. We'll follow where it goes."

Police know of no motives or suspects in the deaths of Brown, McCaffity, Mayers, the Wyche brothers or the homeless couple - Douglas H. Holquist and an unidentified female companion.

Sun staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this article.

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