Man, 23, sought in killing at nightclub

Police criticize action of management after college senior was stabbed

April 29, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber and Alec MacGillis | Del Quentin Wilber and Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police are looking for a 23-year-old man in the fatal stabbing of a Morgan State University senior and have criticized operators of a downtown nightspot for their actions after the killing early Saturday.

Investigators were also frustrated that no Morgan State students had offered information on the stabbing of Rashed Z. Tolliver, 21, even though the Baltimore Live nightclub was packed with patrons from the college. Nearly 30 people - some covered in blood - rushed from the club to Maryland General Hospital, where Tolliver died. All denied knowing anything about the attack when questioned by police.

Damon Anthony Williams of the 600 block of N. Eutaw St. was charged yesterday in an arrest warrant with first-degree murder in the stabbing of Tolliver on Baltimore Live's dance floor. Tolliver was a month away from graduating with a degree in political science.

Police are angry that the club's management did not report the attack. Instead, club employees herded patrons out of the building and locked the doors, said Edwin Day, chief of the department's detective bureau. Police did not know a stabbing had occurred at the club until after responding to the hospital, Day said.

When police finally entered the club, they found Baltimore Live employees cleaning up the crime scene.

The club's owner and holder of its liquor license, Ahmed Mettally, did not return messages left on his club's answering machine.

"I become very angry when I see an incident where the owners of the establishment should have had some responsibility for what is going on," Day said. "Their answer is to close the doors and clean up?"

Police said they were trying to determine a motive for the killing but believe that the attack stemmed from a months-long dispute between Tolliver and Williams, a former Morgan State student and disc jockey at the club.

Police said about 400 Morgan State students were attending a party at the club to celebrate the end of classes. No students have come forward with information about the attack, police said.

"It's disappointing," Day said. "You'd like to see someone help the police in this kind of situation."

Tolliver was remembered yesterday by family members as a focused man who dreamed of becoming a lawyer. He had a 2.74 grade point average and was scheduled to graduate May 18.

Tolliver lived on campus and was hoping to return to his hometown of Mount Vernon, N.Y., to attend law school, said friends and family members.

His path from New York to Morgan was not always easy. As a child, he was placed in foster care and adopted at age 3 by Mamie and Grover Belcher, who have raised 13 children - including other adopted and foster boys and girls - in their Mount Vernon home.

Many of the Belchers were planning to attend Tolliver's graduation ceremony, they said.

"He was so excited that we were all coming," said Mamie Belcher, who last spoke to her son on Friday morning when she urged him to secure more graduation tickets.

Tolliver graduated from Mount Vernon High School and briefly attended Fort Valley State University in Georgia before transferring to Morgan in 1999.

Described by friends as a shy and quiet person, Tolliver was also known for his giving nature. "He was always willing to help people," said Tim Rollerson, 23, a close friend in Mount Vernon. "He was just such a good character."

A funeral is scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday at Mount Vernon Heights Congregational Church at 258 S. Columbus Ave., Mount Vernon.

Morgan officials said there will likely be a memorial service on campus in coming days.

Anyone with information about the crime is urged to call Baltimore Police Detective Charles Bealefeld at 410-396-2100.

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