The man with a gun arrived at a Remington group home for recovering addicts Monday night to collect a $300 drug debt. When Nathaniel "Nate" Gulliver realized that his roommate, the debtor, didn't have enough money, Gulliver offered to visit an ATM.
Gulliver, 49, left the house - apparently accompanied by an unarmed man - nearly drained his account, returned 15 minutes later and handed over the cash, said Baltimore police Maj. Richard C. Fahlteich.
But Gulliver's peace offering wasn't enough for the gunman, who started shooting.
Gulliver and two others, including the debtor, were killed, and a fourth man was wounded, police said.
Early yesterday, police arrested and charged Derrick Taylor, 26, who has multiple Baltimore addresses.
The gunman targeted the debtor and shot the others because they were witnesses, according to police.
Police declined to disclose several details about the shootings, including who owed the debt or how many people were in the room when the shootings occurred.
Police said the $300 debt was owed for marijuana and that some of the debt might have been repaid.
The triple homicide was the deadliest act of violence in Baltimore since May, police said. In announcing the arrest of Taylor, detectives praised the efforts of Gulliver, a college graduate and former probation officer who was struggling to reclaim the life he lost to drugs.
"He was trying to be a Good Samaritan," said Fahlteich, who oversees the city police homicide detectives. "He was trying to keep anybody from getting hurt."
Detectives characterized the triple killing as brazen, even for Baltimore, where 278 homicides were recorded last year.
"This truly is a case where the shooter said, in essence, `I can't leave any witnesses,'" Fahlteich said. "The only reason the other people were shot is solely because they were there."
Taylor was arrested about 1 a.m. yesterday at his girlfriend's home in the 4000 block of Ridgecroft Road in Northeast Baltimore, police said. He was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, police said.
Detectives are searching for the man who accompanied Gulliver to the cash machine. That person is thought to go by a name or nickname similar to "Devane," Fahlteich said. Based on the accounts police provided yesterday, it is unclear whether the second man entered the home in the 500 block of W. 27th St.
Gulliver, Antown Arthur, 38, and Steven Matthews, 36, were killed on the second floor of the three-story group home. Two victims were found seated on chairs and the third on a couch. All three had been shot in the head.
A fourth victim, whose name police have not released, was shot in the back and suffered a graze wound. He broke out a second-story window and escaped as the gunman shot at him from the window, police said.
Detectives said tips from the public were crucial in breaking the case.
Taylor, who was being held at the Central Booking and Intake Center yesterday, has 10 previous arrests for charges including weapons violations and is on probation through November, said Chief of Detectives Antonio Williams.
Several members of Gulliver's family said they learned from detectives this week of his heroics.
Gulliver, whose wife and two children left him in 1989 because of his drug problem, came to Baltimore from southeastern Pennsylvania nearly two years ago, relatives said. He thought that by moving he could escape some of his troubles. Family members said he was making noticeable progress, studying the Bible and making up for unpaid child support payments to his ex-wife.
Bonnie Armstead, his former wife, said, "He really had just started to come around."