Killing elicits grief, anger

Solution sought to Robinwood violence

March 01, 2006|By ANNIE LINSKEY AND ANDREA F. SIEGEL | ANNIE LINSKEY AND ANDREA F. SIEGEL,SUN REPORTERS

Early Sunday morning gunshots rang out in Robinwood.

In addition to hitting a van, a car, a few trees, at least one struck Benjamin Phillip Evans in the back as he was going into his girlfriend's home, Annapolis police said. Evans, 25, died at 6 a.m. at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

"He was a real great person, really athletic, he played basketball and football," said his niece Ashley Stocks, 18, of Annapolis. "He was a real gentlemen, real respectful."

The killing comes seven months after Temont "Tay Tay" Fisher, 20, was gunned down on the same street. A 15-year-old was arrested in that case, and his trial is set to begin this week.

Police distributed more than 150 fliers last weekend in Robinwood, a public housing community in the city, offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Evans' killer.

Sgt. Pamela Johnson of the Annapolis Police Department said investigators have "a few leads," but need the public's help.

Evans' killing is the third homicide in Annapolis this year. Last year, there were five homicides in the city.

Robinwood was built in 1970, and the homes line several blocks of Tyler Avenue. There are nearly 500 residents in the neighborhood and, although rent varies based on income and number of dependants, the average is $200 a month.

In the past six months, the community has had two shootings, one stabbing, and 21 other assaults, according to Annapolis police spokesman Kevin Freeman. There have been 41 calls to the police for suspected drug activity, Freeman said.

Annapolis police said they plan to step up patrols of the neighborhood, but they defended their protection of it. "You can't be everywhere all the time," Freeman said. "A lot of these things basically happen when officers are in the area."

Housing authority Director Eric Brown, who visited the neighborhood after the shooting, said, "I feel that the authority and the Police Department are doing everything that they reasonably can to address the issue."

He said he's planning to meet with residents.

City council member Julie Stankivic, whose Ward 6 includes Robinwood, said the solution to the violence needs to come from the community. "They have to own their community and make the changes that have to be made within themselves."

Neighbors expressed anger and outrage about the killing of a man they described as devoted to his family.

"He hung with my sons. He was like a godchild to me," said Doris Johnson, 49, who lives a few doors down from where the shooting took place. "There was no reason for that person to do what he did. They took a life."

She said Evans was polite and took good care of his two children. "You got a lot of good kids in this community. Every child here is not a drug dealer," she said.

Johnson said she thinks politicians, police and housing authority leadership are not doing enough to address neighborhood crime.

"Where is there for a black kid to go to?" she said. "There is nowhere for the teenagers to go. They hang out on the corners. Where can they go?"

She said the community's recreation center is not adequate and that teens who become idle and bored turn to crime.

The only time she sees elected officials, she says, "is when there is an election or a crime."

Johnson said she was asleep when the shooting occurred and woke up when police knocked on her door to tell her that her van had been hit by one of the bullets.

A few miles away, the trial for another Robinwood shooting was beginning in downtown Annapolis, this for the 15-year-old accused of fatally shooting Fisher on Aug. 2.

Police have said they believe that Fisher brought the juvenile and two other friends to Robinwood that night to settle a score - but before that could happen, the juvenile's gun accidentally went off and Fisher was fatally shot through the neck. The Sun does not identify juveniles accused of crimes.

Assistant State's Attorney Sandra Foy Howell told Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Nancy Davis-Loomis yesterday that her case "primarily depends on the testimony" of two witnesses," Clarence Curtis Wright, 19, and Keith Cornish.

But Assistant Public Defender Kimber Lee Davis said in opening remarks that her client's "accusers are dishonest."

Prosecutors sought to try the teenager as an adult on a manslaughter charge, partly because he has been in trouble since the age of 12, but the judge rejected the request in September.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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