News from around the Baltimore region

July 20, 2005


Man fatally shot, gunman is wounded, police say

A supervisor at a century-old Northwest Baltimore beverage company plant was fatally shot last night by a disgruntled laid-off employee who was shot and wounded moments later by police, authorities said.

The employee - who had been laid off two months ago and was not identified by police - entered the H.R. Nicholson Co. plant in the 6300 block of Oakleaf Ave. about 7:45 p.m. and asked for Dennis Wilson, his former supervisor, police said.

He found Wilson and shot him at least once in the upper body with a shotgun, police said.

Several employees who witnessed the shooting fled, and at least one called police. The gunman, who had parked his Ford Bronco next to the building in a no-parking zone, was confronted outside the single-story, cinderblock building by officers, who ordered him to drop the weapon, police said.

When the man ignored the order and pointed the weapon at officers, he was shot, police said.

Wilson, whose age and address were not available, died at Sinai Hospital, where the gunman underwent surgery. His condition was not released.

Thomas Abrams, an employee, said Wilson and his assailant each worked for the company for several years. Abrams said he did not know why the gunman was laid off.

Abrams, shaken, said he fled the building when the shotgun was fired, and added, "I don't know why anyone would do something like that."

Barbara Johnson, 47, a hairdresser who lives on Kenshaw Avenue across the street from the building, said she was in her kitchen when she heard police ordering someone to drop a weapon. "All of a sudden, I heard about 10 shots, and that's when I fell to the floor fearing I might get shot," she said.

- Richard Irwin


North Laurel man charged in November cross-burning

A North Laurel man has been charged with burning a 3-foot wooden cross and slashing residents' tires in November in what Howard County police are calling racially motivated harassment.

Spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said police believe that Thomas Donovan Spain of the 10600 block of Glen Hannah Drive was targeting a black family that lives close to where the cross was placed. The tires of two cars belonging to the family also were slashed.

Spain, 44, told a Howard County detective and an FBI agent last month that he was not targeting anyone when he burned the cross, slashed the tires and sprayed graffiti, including a swastika, on utility poles in the Leishear Village community.

"The vehicles selected were random," according to statements from Spain included in the charging documents.

The cross was placed on a parking island on Glen Hannah Drive.

Spain came under suspicion after police noticed similarities between the graffiti and drawings an officer saw in Spain's home, according to charging documents.

Spain has been charged with race- and/or religious-related harassment, race- and/or religious-related destruction of property, and three counts of misdemeanor destruction of property.

- Melissa Harris


New York man pleads guilty in '04 killing of city man

After 1 1/2 days of testimony, a New York man pleaded guilty yesterday and was sentenced to 40 years in prison for last year's shooting death of a 30-year-old East Baltimore man, according to the Baltimore state's attorney's office.

Leighton Rose, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y., shot Romel Pittman in the head in the 2400 block of E. Eager St. on Jan. 14, 2004, according to prosecutors. Officers spotted a gray Ford Focus speeding away and summoned a police helicopter, which followed the car until it stopped. Rose emerged from the car and was arrested.

He pleaded guilty yesterday to first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, and was sentenced to life in prison, with all but 40 years suspended.

- Justin Fenton


Off-duty city officer injured in armed robbery attempt

An off-duty Baltimore police officer was shot in the foot during a shootout after an attempted armed robbery Monday night in Northeast Baltimore, police said yesterday.

Officer Kevin Simmons, 32, was talking on his cell phone about 11 p.m. in the 5300 block of Goodnow Road when two men approached him, displayed a handgun and demanded his property, police said. Simmons, a nine-year member of the department who works in the Southwestern District, drew his weapon and exchanged gunfire with the suspects, who fled the area, police said. Police recovered a 9 mm handgun.

Simmons was treated at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for a gunshot wound to his foot and released. No arrests have been made.

- Gus G. Sentementes


Lead-poisoning partnership has meeting today at noon

A brown-bag lunch meeting of the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Partnership is to be held at noon today at Baltimore City Community College's Liberty Campus.

Topics to be discussed include lead paint enforcement initiatives by the city and state, recent General Assembly legislation and a recent class action settlement by DuPont.

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