Man said to be ex-port official found dead

9-year-old daughter also discovered shot to death in Silver Spring home

Motive under investigation

August 08, 2002|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

A man identified in media reports as a former deputy director of the Maryland Port Administration and his 9-year-old daughter were found fatally shot late Tuesday at the man's home in Silver Spring.

Montgomery County police identified the victims as George Gregory Russell, 47, and Erika Smith, 9, who police said lived with her mother in Washington and was visiting Russell's home in the 9300 block of Columbia Blvd.

Officers were sent to the Russell home in the Montgomery Hills area about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in response to a 911 call originating there and reporting gunfire.

When officers arrived, they heard what seemed to be a gunshot inside the house and rushed in to find Russell wounded and on the phone with a 911 operator.

His daughter was found upstairs dead from gunshots, police said.

Russell died later at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, police said.

Washington's WJLA-TV, and an Associated Press report quoting the Washington Post, identified the father as the former deputy MPA chief who resigned in 1997, along with his boss, amid allegations of insider trading related to investments in Baltimore Bancorp shortly before its sale was announced. Russell was a member of the bank's board.

Yesterday, police and forensics specialists spent much of the day at the house investigating the double shooting.

Investigators would not say last night whether a weapon had been found in the house, or whether the deaths were the result of a murder-suicide or were a double murder.

The violence left the neighborhood of young couples and families stunned.

"It's a terrible, terrible tragedy," said Hillary Clark, 25, who lives five doors away. "I will find peace of mind knowing what happened, rather than thinking it was a random incident in my neighborhood."

G. Gregory Russell, as the port official was known, had worked as senior audit manager for accounting firm Arthur Andersen and Co. before his hiring by the MPA in 1989 as its chief financial officer and director of finance.

He resigned as deputy director amid allegations by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission of insider trading -- namely, that he tipped off his boss, then-Port Authority Director Michael P. Angelos, about Baltimore Bancorp's impending sale to First Fidelity Bancorp.

Russell and Angelos resigned from the top port jobs and agreed to pay thousands of dollars in penalties to settle the SEC complaints.

Previously, Russell had come under scrutiny for a possible conflict of interest with his port job as a partner in a group planning to purchase a small waterfront hotel near a site proposed by the MPA for docking cruise ships.

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