Woman, 19, killed outside nightclub

Incident rekindles concern about crime in area near Penn Station

April 01, 2006|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

A 19-year-old pregnant woman was shot and killed early yesterday in front of a popular late-night club on North Charles Street, reviving years-old concerns from people in the neighborhood near Penn Station about crime in the area.

City police did not release details of the slaying, which occurred about 1 a.m. outside Club Choices in the 1800 block of N. Charles St., one block from the Charles Theater and in a neighborhood being billed as an emerging arts and entertainment district.

Authorities did not release the name of the victim, nor would they provide details on how the shooting occurred and whether the victim had been in the club, which is licensed to stay open all night. Club Choices does not sell alcohol, but shares a door and an owner with Club Trip's Place, which serves alcohol until 2 a.m.

Calls to Anthony D. Triplin, the club's owner, and his attorney, John A. Austin, were not returned yesterday.

Joy Martin, owner of Club Charles and Zodiak in the 1700 block of N. Charles St., has been critical of Choices and yesterday he called it "a nightmare."

Martin said she was in the area early yesterday when police cars swarmed the area after the killing. "That place is what is holding back development," she said. "Last night, that could have been one of my customers. This is not what the arts and entertainment district is about."

After criticism for unruly behavior associated with Club Choices in 2003, Triplin considered selling his two establishments. The Baltimore Development Corp. considered purchasing the property and had it appraised, but it was higher than the money allocated for acquisition, said Paul Dombrowski, the BDC's planning and design team director.

Dombrowski said the latest killing might rekindle the BDC's interest. "Apparently, it is not all that peaceful and quiet," Dombrowski said. "With this happening, this raises some serious questions."

In 2003, Club Choices was cited twice by fire inspectors who said they found exits bolted or padlocked. That same year, a liquor board inspector said he found patrons bringing alcohol from Trip's Place to Choices. The owner was fined $800, but that was overturned on appeal.

Club Choices in on a block where the majority of buildings are boarded up, a stark contrast with the block south where the movie complex and cafes draw crowds.

Vander Pearson, owner of a flower shop at the north end of the 1800 block of Charles St., said things have quieted at Club Choices in the last two years.

Pearson, who often works well into the early hours on weekends, said many of the issues that previously hampered the area - backed up traffic, trash and belligerent behavior by intoxicated clubgoers - has subsided.

"Throughout the years, you've had different types of people go there," Pearson said. "Some of those other people, they're just not around anymore."

Jennifer Mange, executive director of Station North Arts and Entertainment Inc., said she has heard complaints from neighbors.

"Our attention is on the 1800 block of Charles Street again," Mange said. "I don't think the events can be ignored."

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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