Motive for shooting may not be parking

Victim had dispute with someone the day he was killed in car

February 26, 2004|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A dispute over double-parking may not have been the motive behind Tuesday's fatal shooting of a West Baltimore man as he sat in a car with his girlfriend and her young daughter, city police said yesterday.

The victim, Bernard Thomas, 23, of the 800 block of W. Lexington St., was shot as he sat in the front passenger seat of a Toyota Avalon on North Schroeder Street, said Officer Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman.

His girlfriend was sitting next to him, driving the car, and her 9-year-old daughter was in the back seat. Neither was hurt as the shots were fired and hit Thomas through a closed window.

Police initially said the shooting was apparently the result of a dispute about double-parking.

Thomas, according to court documents, had been previously charged by police with numerous offenses -- including attempted murder, possession with intent to distribute narcotics and assault. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at Maryland Shock Trauma Center with wounds to the torso, Monroe said.

Thomas was riding with the girlfriend and her daughter about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday when they stopped at Dolphin Street and Myrtle Avenue. Thomas got out, went into a nearby corner store and later engaged in a heated verbal exchange with a man standing on the corner, Monroe said.

Thomas got back into the Toyota, and his girlfriend drove to Fremont Avenue and Franklin Street, where they visited someone.

While they were visiting, a witness observed a silver Honda Accord with tinted windows and a temporary license tag parked nearby, Monroe said. Police were told the driver of the Honda appeared to be watching Thomas and his girlfriend.

As they left the area and were driving on the 400 block of North Schroeder toward Mulberry Street, the silver Honda Accord sped past them, stopping suddenly in front of them and blocking them in, Monroe said. The driver got out of the car and approached the Toyota with a handgun, and began firing as the driver of the Toyota started backing up, Monroe said.

After the shooting, the gunman fled in the Honda. Thomas' girlfriend drove to the 700 block of West Mulberry, where she flagged down a Housing Authority police officer who called 911.

Monroe said the motive for the shooting remained undetermined.

"Homicide detectives have not ruled out the possibility that something other than a parking space dispute precipitated this incident," Monroe said. "It was blatant disregard for the safety of the occupants in that vehicle, and also anyone in close proximity [of the shooting] because the suspect just opened fire."

Agent Donny Moses, another police spokesman, said counseling and treatment are provided for children who witness such violence. "Generally, our community affairs officers talk to children and evaluate whether they're going to need additional counseling when they've been exposed to a traumatic incident," he said.

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