A friendship for life ends in violent death

Shooting: Close since childhood, three young men are slain together in Baltimore

one probably was an unintended victim.

July 10, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt and Gerard Shields | Laura Barnhardt and Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Growing up in Dundalk, Thomas Barnes Jr., Frederick Jenkins and ElJermaine Street were practically inseparable.

They played cards and wrote rap lyrics together. They graduated from high school together. Early Monday, while they were visiting Jenkins' brother, they died together.

The three men, all 28, were each shot once in the back of the head as they sat outside an apartment complex in Southeast Baltimore just after midnight.

Two men from the same neighborhood where Barnes, Jenkins and Street grew up near Turners Station were being held yesterday without bail. They were charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

As Baltimore City homicide detectives began piecing together how the three men, one of them on leave from the Army and not an intended target, became murder victims, relatives were making arrangements to remember two of them - together.

"They were the best of friends," said Street's sister, Lynnette Stokes. "They were like brothers."

A double funeral is planned for Street and Barnes, who are cousins, later this week. Jenkins' family is working with Army officials to coordinate services for him.

Jenkins, who was married four months ago, was to fly to Germany yesterday to see his wife. He had returned a week ago from a tour of duty in Kuwait, where he served as a computer specialist in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Army officials at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, where Jenkins was stationed, expressed shock at his death.

It is startling, said Sgt. 1st Class David Dismukes, an Army spokesman, "especially coming from the firestorm overseas to home."

A sort of reunion

Jenkins' arrival home was the reason the men were together, family members said.

"Whenever Fred came home, they were always together," Stokes said. "They spent a lot of time talking, catching up on who was doing what, how their kids were doing, what they were going to do next in life."

On Sunday night, the three men were visiting Jenkins' brother, Derek Jenkins, who lived in the Broening Manor apartments in the 1300 block of Bonsal St., near O'Donnell Heights.

Detectives said Barnes, Frederick Jenkins and Street were sitting on the steps of the apartment complex a few minutes after midnight when two men approached and one fired three shots from a revolver from a few feet away.

Suspects arrested

Richard James and William Faulkner, both 23, of the 500 block of New Pittsburg Ave. in Dundalk, were arrested Monday afternoon. Police said the two suspects were with a friend who lives across the street from the shooting scene just before the killings.

Detectives and family members said they suspect that Frederick Jenkins was not an intended target.

"He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Jenkins' mother, Felicia Waterhouse.

"He was not a thug," said Gayle Waterhouse, Jenkins' aunt, who was with relatives at her sister's home in Randallstown. "A lot of people out there think this was gang-related or drug-related. He died for nothing."

Detectives said they believe Derek Jenkins, Barnes and Street were the intended targets, though detectives were still digging deeper into the motives yesterday.

Long-running dispute

Detective Donald Bradshaw of the homicide unit said the shooting resulted from a long-running dispute and the suspects felt "the time and opportunity were there, and they took advantage of it."

Police were still looking for a weapon yesterday, but they said they believe James was the shooter.

"We can't figure out why this would happen to these three men - all of them quiet, laid-back, well-liked, well-loved young men with their whole lives ahead of them," said Stokes.

Run-in with the law

Court records show that in September 2000, Faulkner was charged in Baltimore County District Court with assault and ordered not to come into contact with Derek Jenkins. Jenkins was with the three victims at the time of the shooting but escaped injury, police said.

All three victims graduated from Dundalk High School in 1992, Stokes said. Street was working as a forklift operator in Dundalk. The father of a 3-year-old daughter, Street was engaged to be married this year and would then have had two stepsons, said Stokes.

Barnes, who had no children, was working as a Social Security clerk. He had briefly served in the National Guard, Stokes said, but recently returned home after his parents became ill.

Family members remembered Frederick Jenkins as a mild-mannered man, a computer expert who loved to record music ranging from rap to jazz.

Jenkins, the father of a 4-year-old son, was particularly close to Barnes, family members said.

"They grew up together since they were 3," Felicia Waterhouse said. "They went to Head Start together. You don't find friendships like that."

She added, "It's just the irony that they were both so close in life that they would have died like that."

Waterhouse would not disclose Derek Jenkins' location yesterday, except to say he was in Baltimore. Most of the day she spent trying to write her son's obituary.

"He should be writing mine," said Waterhouse, breaking into sobs. "I shouldn't have to write his."

Funeral services are scheduled for Sheet and Barnes at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Mount Olive Baptist Church, 651 Mount Olive Road in Baltimore.

Sun staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this article.

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