Three men fatally shot at apartment complex

Two Dundalk residents charged within hours of incident in Baltimore

July 09, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Three Baltimore County men were fatally shot outside an apartment complex in Southeast Baltimore early yesterday, and police quickly arrested and charged two suspects from Dundalk.

Two men walked to within several feet of the victims, who were sitting on the front steps of the Broening Manor apartments in the 1300 block of Bonsal St., near O'Donnell Heights, just after midnight, police said. One of the men fired three shots with a revolver, hitting each victim once in the head, police said.

The victims - Thomas Barnes, 28, of the 3500 block of Dunhaven Road, Dundalk; Frederick Jenkins, 28, an Army soldier on leave; and Eljermaine Street, 28, of the 700 block of New Pittsburg Ave. in Dundalk - died at the scene. Police said they were visiting friends at the apartment complex.

Richard James and William Faulkner, both 23 and residents of the 500 block of New Pittsburg Ave. in Dundalk, were arrested at 4 p.m. at James' home by detectives with the Warrant Apprehension Task Force, police said.

James and Faulkner are charged with first-degree murder.

Ragina C. Averella, a police spokeswoman, said the shooting likely stemmed from "an ongoing dispute between these individuals."

Court records show that in September 2000 Faulkner was charged in Baltimore County Circuit Court with assault and ordered not to come in contact with Frederick Jenkins' brother, Derek, who lived in the Bonsal Street apartment building where the slayings occurred. Derek Jenkins was with the three victims when the gunman opened fire, but escaped injury, police said.

Averella said police were able to make arrests within hours of the shooting because "we had some very good leads early on."

Residents said they were startled by the shootings on their normally quiet street of three-story apartment complexes and a handful of rowhouses.

A 13-year-old girl said she heard three gunshots, grew scared and had trouble falling asleep. Another woman said she dropped to the floor when she heard gunfire.

Clay Bowling, 35, lives in a third-floor unit overlooking the shooting scene. He was chatting online with a friend when he heard what he thought was a firecracker, then two other booms.

"It was boom, pause, then boom, boom," Bowling said. "I thought it might be carryover from the Fourth of July. But it didn't sound right."

Bowling raced to his window and saw two men running north on Bonsal, he said. He said the porch light that shines on the steps was not working, so he didn't see their faces.

A few minutes later, a police officer came to his door and told him there had been a shooting.

"This is the first time I have ever seen anything like this," said Bowling, who has lived in the complex for six years. "I never thought it would end up on my front steps. Most of the time, it's pretty quiet out here."

Bill Poist, 71, has lived in a rowhouse near the shooting scene for 40 years. He often leaves his doors open during hot summer days, but he is going to rethink the practice.

"My kids could be coming out the door and be shot for no reason at all," Poist said.

In Dundalk, where the suspects grew up, family members in the close-knit community were stunned at the arrests of the two longtime friends. They said that neither was capable of killing anyone and that the two men were seen at Joe's Tavern, a local bar, at the time of the shooting.

"It's no way that my brother could have done that," said Cherrie Fleming, 25, one of James' three sisters.

She said James graduated from Dundalk High School and worked at a warehouse. She also said he was supporting a 7-year-old son, Tyquan. She described her brother as a "lovable person" and that he and Faulkner were friends of the victims.

"That's what's getting everybody," she said. "They were so close."

Faulkner's family said Faulkner and Street were cousins. Faulkner's sister, Sherrita Alston, 20, said, "He doesn't own a handgun. ... He's not violent."

Alston said her brother has a drinking problem, but she didn't think he was capable of such violence. She described Faulkner and James as "very sensitive. They're not that type of crowd."

William Faulkner Sr. said his son dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player and had recently decided to turn his life around. The first order of business was to kick his drinking habit, he said.

Attempts to reach the victims' relatives were unsuccessful.

The killings put the city's homicide toll at 10 in the past eight days, and 137 for the year - equal to last year at the same time.

Last July, the city recorded 10 homicides, the lowest monthly total since 1984.

Sun staff writers Johnathon E. Briggs and Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

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