Morgan campus mourns student

Police in city, New York seek man in club killing

April 30, 2003|By Kimberly A.C. Wilson | Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN STAFF

As Morgan State University students and officials organized candlelight vigils last night to remember a senior slain at a nightclub during the weekend, police in Baltimore and New York searched for the former student accused of the crime.

Rashed Z. Tolliver, 21, who would have graduated next month, died Saturday morning at Maryland General Hospital. A first-degree murder warrant has been issued against Damon Anthony Williams, a frequent campus presence known around area nightclubs as DJ Action.

Justin T. Brown, president of Morgan's student government association, said he would ask fellow students to help bring Tolliver's killer to justice.

"I'd tell people, `Let's just imagine it was someone close to you, you would want justice,'" Brown said. "A lot of people have been surprised. They're shocked and surprised, because when you see this on the news it doesn't hit you at home, but this time it did."

Word spread around campus yesterday that the victim and suspect had argued at the school early Friday. Late that night, police said, they argued again at the Baltimore Live nightclub, where campus promoters had organized a private party to begin the "I Love Morgan" weekend.

Police believe Tolliver was stabbed inside and rushed by friends to the emergency room.

Ahmed Mettwaly, who has owned the downtown nightspot since 1998, said Williams had handled the music at four or five previous events organized by Rated R Entertainment, a promotions group run by current and former Morgan State University students.

"But I banned him from the club because of his attitude," Mettwaly said. "People come to dance, and he's getting on the mike with like, `yo, this' and `yo that.' He's a good DJ, but people wanted to hear music more than they wanted to hear his mike."

When the club owner realized Williams was spinning records at the club Friday night, he told a security guard to pass on the word that the DJ needed to stop talking so much.

Barely an hour later, Mettwaly saw people running after Williams. When he questioned his bouncers, they told him there had been an incident outside the club and that they had called police, he said. After herding patrons from the building, club employees locked the doors and began cleaning up the blood.

"I thought, you know, if he was killed inside that they wouldn't clean the crime scene, but they said he was killed outside," Mettwaly said.

But Edwin Day, chief of the department's detective bureau, had sharp criticism for what he called the club's destruction of the crime scene.

Last weekend's incident was not the first violence at the club at Howard and Saratoga streets.

In April 1997, police responded to a disturbance at the nightclub, known then as Club Raven. A crowd of more than 700 people had grown unruly when the promised headliner, hip-hop artist Lil' Kim, failed to perform 15 minutes before closing.

According to a police incident report filed the next morning, security guards "overreacted," spraying patrons inside the club with pepper spray and sending seven people to the hospital for asthmatic reactions.

On New Year's Day 1998, an 18-year-old patron, Danny Fisher, was stabbed twice in the back in the club. A year later, bouncers ejected two men who were fighting over a woman. One of the men pulled a handgun from his pickup truck and shot the other in the leg.

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