Man who shot youths says he just asked them to move

No bail set for Banks, 60, who killed a man in 1970s

July 30, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

William Banks wanted to leave his house, he told police, but several boys on his stoop refused to move. One even cursed at him, he said.

Now, Banks is charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of three youths, ages 11, 15 and 18, outside his Southeast Baltimore home Sunday afternoon.

"I am tired," Banks told officers, according to court papers. "I am tired. That's all I asked was for them to give me space or move off my steps."

Banks, 60, was being held without bail yesterday after a hearing in Baltimore District Court. Though the boys may have provoked Banks, prosecutors said, he went too far.

"We do not believe this rose to the level" where deadly force was warranted, said Assistant State's Attorney Barbara Richmond.

Prosecutors pointed out that Banks had been convicted of manslaughter in 1975.

Banks' attorney, Murray M. Blum, who did not attend the hearing, said he was going to meet with his client today.

"There was a reason this happened, and we're going to do everything within our power to protect Mr. Banks," Blum said. He "was extremely upset at what happened. We need to assess where we are going to take it from here."

The wounded youths continued to recover yesterday.

William James, 15, of the 1100 block of Poplar Grove St. in West Baltimore, suffered gunshot wounds to his left arm. Dominique Byrd, 11, of the 100 block of N. Ellwood St., was shot in the hand. Barry Bolling, 18, of the 100 block of N. Potomac St., was shot in the chest and hand. Byrd and Bolling were treated and released from local hospitals. James was listed in good condition yesterday at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

According to police, Banks confronted several youths outside his home in the 100 block of N. Decker Ave. about 1 p.m. Sunday.

After failing to persuade them to move, Banks walked past them and toward his van parked in front of the rowhouse, police said. According to investigators, he turned and fired several shots with a .38-caliber handgun.

Banks then walked into his house and called emergency dispatchers, saying he had shot several people and had his weapon with him, police said.

Relatives of the youths said Banks should not have resorted to violence.

"Being fed up and tired doesn't justify shooting somebody," said Joyce Mack, 39, Bolling's mother, who attended Banks' bail review hearing. "That is not justice."

Menyonde Lewis, James' mother, said Banks needs "to feel the pain of a bullet going through his own hand," though she said she does not believe in vigilante justice.

Lewis was upset by the sympathetic portrayal of Banks in news reports.

"It's not fair to my child," she said.

Friends of the wounded youths disputed the version of events that Banks related to detectives. Xavier Brown, 22, said he was hanging out with the youths just before the shooting.

Brown said they were not sitting on Banks' front steps and that he never asked them to leave.

"He didn't say nothing to nobody," said Brown, who ran when Banks opened fire. "He just started shooting."

Yesterday, most neighbors described Banks as a quiet man who always said hello. For 16 years, he has been employed at Donald's Place, a liquor store and check-cashing business in the 400 block of N. Montford Ave., where co-workers described him as an intelligent and courteous man.

But Banks has been arrested for violence in the past. In 1974, Banks was charged with murder. Several months later, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served two years in state prison. Further details about the case could not be determined yesterday.

District Judge H. Gary Bass, who presided at Banks' bail review hearing yesterday, recalled in court that he had prosecuted the manslaughter case.

Bolling was sentenced last month to 18 months' probation after being convicted in District Court of drug possession and resisting arrest. As a condition of his probation, he was ordered to attend school regularly, complete 100 hours of community service and avoid drugs, records show.

Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said he does "not condone the shooting," but he sympathizes with residents who are frustrated with troublesome teen-agers.

"Why aren't they on their own stoops?" Norris asked. "People are intimidated. ... You've got elderly people, older people, and they are like prisoners in their own homes."

Norris said police are investigating reports of neighborhood teens setting Banks' fence on fire and intimidating the man in the past.

The shooting was not the city's first brush with vigilante justice.

Earlier this month, Edward Day, 54, was charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy trying to steal a bicycle from his yard.

In 1994, Nathaniel Hurt, a 61-year-old retired steelworker, fatally shot a 13-year-old vandalizing his car. Hurt went to prison for 14 months for killing Vernon Lee Holmes Jr.

Four years later, 78-year-old Albert Sims shot a 15-year-old boy, Jermaine Jordan, after his Cadillac was hit with a brick in the 1600 block of Llewelyn Ave. Sims, the only resident of a block filled with vacant and boarded-up houses, was eventually found not competent to stand trial and committed to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, the state's facility for the criminally insane.

Sun staff writer Jonathan D. Rockoff and researchers Sarah Gehring, Jean Packard and Sheila Jackson contributed to this article.

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