2 killed and 4 wounded in E. Shore shootings

April 08, 2005|By Kelly Brewington, Chris Guy, Josh Mitchell, Gus Sentementes | Kelly Brewington, Chris Guy, Josh Mitchell, Gus Sentementes,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY - A two-state, apparently random shooting spree that began shortly after 8 a.m. yesterday in Laurel, Del., ended 45 minutes later in Salisbury with six people shot, two fatally, and a 22-year-old man arrested and charged with murder.

Allison Lamont Norman, 22, of Seaford, Del. was tackled by police and arrested in Salisbury. He was wearing body armor and carrying a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol with extra ammunition clips. He was charged with first-degree murder and handgun violations, said Wicomico County prosecutor Davis Ruark.

Police said Norman apparently did not know his victims and that he acted alone. Police declined to comment on a suspected motive for the bloody rampage.

The chaos erupted on a mostly sunny morning along a 14-mile stretch of U.S. 13 that winds through the rural Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware.

"It was a chaotic scene. At this point it seems like a random shooting," said Wicomico County Sheriff R. Hunter Nelms. "Our 911 center was lit up."

Norman, who has several prior drug-related felony convictions in Delaware, was wanted on a Maryland warrant issued Wednesday, when he failed to appear in Wicomico County Circuit Court on gun charges related to an incident last fall.

A family friend said Norman appeared distraught this week, was seen wearing a bulletproof vest on Tuesday, and that he feared for his safety.

"He said, `I can't talk now, so much is going on. I'm afraid,'" said Linda Cain, 40, of Bridgeville, Del. "I just wish he trusted me enough to open up.

"He's not a bad person. He's a loving person. They don't know his emotional condition," Cain said.

The spree began in an apartment complex in Laurel, Del., a town of about 4,000 just north of the Maryland state line, and ended near an elementary school in Salisbury, a city of 25,000 at the head of the Wicomico River.

At 8:14 a.m., police were called to the Carvel Gardens apartment complex in Laurel, where they found Jamell Weston, 24, dead of gunshot wounds.

"He was just walking along and got caught up in somebody else's problem," said Melvin White, an uncle.

Iris Weston, 43, said her son, Jamell, was shot as he returned to their apartment after walking his 6-year-old nephew to a nearby school bus stop. She described her son as a gentle and friendly man who was disabled and unable to work.

Weston said she was told that the gunman was firing at another man with whom he had a dispute concerning the other man's girlfriend. Her son was caught in the crossfire. A cousin of Weston's, Marcus Cannon, was slightly wounded and was in stable condition last night.

Several residents said they believe Norman had a relationship with a woman in the area. Initial police reports said the gunman had a child with him when he arrived at the apartment complex. The child was not with him during the shootings, however, police said.

Police said Norman then stole a black Ford Focus and fled. The car's owner, Cedric Harris, 43, said he had gone to the apartments to visit a friend and left the keys on the seat.

Minutes later, he walked out to see someone driving his car out of the parking lot at breakneck speed, Harris said.

The same car was seen at the shootings in Salisbury and in Laurel and Delmar, Del., said Delaware State Police Cpl. Jeff Oldham.

Police alleged that Norman drove first to a nearby shopping center, where another person was shot. Police did not release the victim's identity but said the person was in critical condition.

The shooter then headed south, shooting at but not hitting several people in Delmar, which straddles the state border. A shot was fired at a garbage-truck worker but missed, and the bullet lodged in the wall of a house, said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley.

In Salisbury, 14 miles south of Laurel, witnesses described a chaotic scene where the suspect shot at people in their homes and moving vehicles in working-class neighborhoods. The spree ended near West Salisbury Elementary School, just west of the city limits.

At least three vehicles near the school were hit, but no pupils or staff were injured. As a precaution, all 24 Wicomico County schools went into lockdown mode about 9 a.m. - the first time that has happened in the district's history.

Tracy Sahler, a spokeswoman for the school system, said the lockdown order was lifted at 10:40 a.m.

Tya Sampson, who lives on Adventist Drive near the school, said she saw a car with a shattered windshield and another car with a bullet-size hole in the door. Worried, she called Delmar Elementary but couldn't pick up her son because of the lockdown.

Marsha L. Henderson of Salisbury, who was driving on Adventist Drive, was shot and wounded. She was treated at a hospital and released.

About half a mile from West Salisbury Elementary, on Nokomis Drive, shots were fired at four homes. A dog was shot and killed, police said.

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