Four shot, one stabbed outside restaurant

Victims were injured after argument downtown

October 14, 2003|By Matt Whittaker and Del Quentin Wilber | Matt Whittaker and Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Four men were shot and another was stabbed after an argument in a popular downtown Baltimore restaurant spilled outside early yesterday, police said.

All the victims of the incident, which occurred about 1 a.m., are expected to survive. Police said problems began when an argument erupted during a private party at the Downtown Southern Blues restaurant in the 800 block of N. Howard St.

Employees ejected the group from the restaurant, where the argument escalated and a group of people began beating and stabbing a man, police said.

A friend put the victim in his car and drove him to Union Memorial Hospital, police said.

Police identified the stabbing victim as Kenneth Thomas, 31. Hospital nurses refused yesterday to say whether Thomas was at the hospital.

Another fight broke out, police said, and a man took out a handgun and opened fire. He wounded four men before he fled, police said.

The four gunshot victims walked across the street to Maryland General Hospital, said Detective Donny Moses, a police spokesman, who described the wounds as superficial. The victims were identified as Harold Friend, 21; Kevin Joyner, 33; Melvin Washington, 26; and Willie Thomas Jr., 25.

The restaurant's resident agent and owner, Anthony Leonard, and its manager, Harvey Shugarman, could not be reached for comment. They did not return phone messages left at Southern Blues, which was closed yesterday.

Maj. John Skinner, commander of the Central District, said his officers had few problems with the restaurant, which generated only seven calls for police service - none for violent behavior and most for car accidents, silent alarms sounding and a theft - since Jan. 1.

"As far as it being a problematic liquor establishment, it wasn't even on our radar," Skinner said.

Skinner said he was adding police patrols to the area when the restaurant closes to prevent retaliatory violence.

Business owners in the block, which is known as Antiques Row, said they did not think the incident would scare off customers.

"I don't see why [business] would go down," said James Judd, owner of Amos Judd & Son, an antiques store. "This was at nighttime. ... It does scare a lot of people, but I don't think it's going to hurt us at all."

But some residents said the shooting worried them.

Joshua Whitaker, who lives in the 800 block of Howard St., said he was thinking of moving.

"This restaurant has brought a young group of people to this block that weren't here before," he said. "I knew it was just a matter of time until someone got shot."

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