Columbia drive-by suspect surrenders to Howard police

Charges against him include attempted murder

May 21, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Nearly a week after Columbia's only drive-by shooting in recent memory, a third suspect - identified by another suspect as the shooter - turned himself in at Howard County's Southern District police station yesterday afternoon, county police said.

Derek Travell Powell, 21, of the 11600 block of South Laurel Drive in Laurel was charged with 12 counts, including first-degree attempted murder, in connection with the shootings May 14 in Columbia's Wilde Lake village, police said.

One of the three Columbia teen-agers wounded by gunfire underwent surgery yesterday to graft skin over a bullet hole in his left calf, his mother said.

"It's not looking good," said Lela Martinez, mother of 16- year-old Wendell Martinez. "He's got a huge hole in his leg from where the bullet ricocheted off his shoe."

During previous surgery, doctors inserted a metal rod to support his shattered left tibia, she said.

The other wounded teen-agers, Ryan Fasset, 18, and Tanelle Mitchell, 15, were treated at hospitals and released the day of the shooting, according to spokeswomen for Howard County General Hospital and Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Verbal altercation

Police arrested Laurel residents Teon Nicholson, 24, and his cousin Philip Nicholson, 20, and issued an arrest warrant for Powell within a day of the crime.

According to court documents and Lela Martinez, the drive-by shooting followed a minor verbal altercation between the three Laurel residents and a group of about five teen-agers who were walking and riding bicycles near Wilde Lake High School.

The Laurel men were at Wilde Lake High that day to attend a banquet with Teon Nicholson's mother, Sharon Annette Thomas, court documents state. A spokeswoman for the Howard County public school system identified Thomas as a custodian.

The Nicholsons and Powell briefly left the banquet to smoke, according to court documents, and made eye contact with a group of teen-agers. The teen-agers ignored them, but the men surfaced about an hour later with a car and a gun, the documents state.

An off-duty park police officer obtained the license plate number of the dark blue Lincoln from which shots were fired, leading police to Thomas' residence, court documents show.

Teon Nicholson cooperated with police officers and was taken into custody without incident, according to court documents. He told police that he drove the Lincoln and Powell shot at the teen-agers - who were standing in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Daystar Court - from the passenger-side window.

`Not in a gang'

Lela Martinez said her son is "not a fighter ... more of a mama's boy" and would never start trouble with a group of people he didn't know.

"He's not in a gang or anything like that," she said. According to court documents, Wendell Martinez told police the Laurel men initially asked if the teens were showing gang signs, to which he said they answered, "No."

Wendell Martinez likely will remain at Shock Trauma for another week, his mother said yesterday.

The Nicholsons remain at the Howard County Detention Center, according to a correctional officer there. They face the same 12 charges as Powell, police said. Powell was awaiting a formal reading of charges before a court commissioner last night.

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