`You don't expect this'

Homicide: Just as he turned his young life around, Michael Spencer was fatally shot close to his Pikesville home.

January 15, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

The trouble for Michael Anthony Spencer II was supposed to be over.

He had survived the abuse at one of the state's now-closed boot camps for juvenile offenders. He had graduated from the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School for delinquents, gotten his General Educational Development diploma and enrolled in the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County. He had rededicated his life to Christ, his parents said, and seemed to be on the right track again.

He would have turned 18 this week.

Instead, he became Baltimore County's first homicide victim of the year, when he was shot in the head and bled to death in a laundry room of a Pikesville apartment complex Jan. 5.

Yesterday, police charged Marvin Blume Jr., 20, of the Warren Park Apartments in Pikesville with first-degree murder.

"I feel like our son was ambushed," said Spencer's father, Michael Anthony Spencer Sr., a welder at the Naval Academy. "He had come to the aid of the friend who looked up to him to fight his battles."

Spencer's violent end resembled so many deaths of young black men in Baltimore area, his father said. But his son had what so many of them didn't.

"Our son had everything to live for," said Spencer. "He wasn't some stereotype. There were no drugs involved. He didn't even drink. He wasn't the product of a broken home. We take vacations as a family. We raised him in the church. You don't hear enough about the exceptions to the stereotypes, that not all kids out here are on dope, shooting up people, robbing and stealing."

Just hours before Spencer was shot in the face and the chest, he had shoveled the snow off a neighbor's sidewalk -- refusing to take money for the chore, his father said.

Spencer and Blume, also known as "Sporty," had been in a fight the day before the shooting at the Warren Park Apartments, according to court charging documents. But Officer Shawn Vinson, a county police spokesman, said it was unclear what the two men had been arguing about.

Spencer was pronounced dead at the scene, shortly after police arrived to check on a report of gunfire in the apartment complex at 20 Warren Drive.

Blume confessed to his involvement when he was arrested about 11 o'clock Monday night, police said. He was being held without bail last night at the county detention center.

Judging from the wounds, it looked as if his son's killer had held the gun to Spencer's chin, fired, and then shot him again in the chest, his father said.

"The injuries were so bad that they wanted him to wear a hat in the casket. But I said no. Even though he was 6-foot tall, I loved to pat him on the head. `You're still my boy,' I'd tell him, and then snatch off his hat."

The family had moved to their two-story brick home in Pikesville about six years ago from Forest Park in Northwest Baltimore, where Spencer had played football and shown an interest in math and computers.

"Michael was a leader in our youth ministry," said the Rev. P.M. Smith, a pastor at Huber Memorial Church of Christ in Baltimore. "You don't expect this kind of thing to happen in Pikesville -- not to family like this."

When Michael Spencer II started getting into trouble with police for crimes that included stealing a bike, his father volunteered with his church to be part of a youth ministry at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore County.

Later, he and his wife, who works in the accounting department of an insurance company, asked prosecutors to recommend sending their son to the school and then to the boot camp.

Their son testified about the beatings by the camp instructors and was one of the youths who received a financial settlement from a lawsuit against the state, which he used to help pay for his tuition and books, his father said. A lawyer in the case who described Spencer as smart and mature said she expected him to do well as an adult.

Spencer earned a C average in his first semester of college and his father was teaching him to drive the family van.

"He was a likable kid," said his father. "He wasn't a perfect child, but he was headed in the right direction. He didn't deserve to die."

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