Details emerge in birthday shooting

Police say man had ejected suspect from his daughter's party

April 18, 2006|By GUS G. SENTEMENTES | GUS G. SENTEMENTES,SUN REPORTER

The weekend was supposed to be filled with cheer for Bryant C. Jones and his family. Out-of-town relatives came to Baltimore for Easter festivities and for a Sweet 16 birthday party planned for his daughter.

But the birthday party Friday night was ruined by gunshots. As an unruly male teenager was being escorted out of the house, police say, he pulled out a handgun and fatally shot Jones before a crowd of partygoers.

The next day, police arrested 16-year-old Jamal Charles and charged him as an adult in connection with the killing. Yesterday, a judge ordered Charles, who has a juvenile criminal record, held without bail at Central Booking and Intake Center.

Police say the birthday party started out as a family affair at the Southwest Baltimore rowhouse but was opened to neighborhood children - and the family decided to charge a $1 cover fee to help defray the costs of food and drink.

When one of the boys allowed into the party had a dispute with a girl, Jones ejected him and returned the boy's dollar.

But as the boy was leaving about 9:45 p.m., he pulled a gun and fatally shot Jones, once in the head and once in the arm, police say. A city police officer patrolling in the area heard the gunshots and rushed to the rowhouse in the 1000 block of N. Augusta Ave., court documents show.

Jones collapsed in his living room and medics took him to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died early the next morning, police charging documents show.

Witnesses identified a suspect, and police arrested Charles on Saturday as he walked out of his home in the 300 block of Denison St., several blocks from the shooting scene.

Police charged Charles as an adult with first- and second-degree murder, use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime, first-degree assault, handgun possession, and discharge of a firearm within city limits. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Police said Charles has a juvenile record that includes narcotics violations, a second-degree sex offense, a handgun violation, and disorderly conduct. Because those charges were handled by the juvenile justice system, their dispositions are not on public record.

Charles has a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 12.

Jones' wife, Alisa, said yesterday in a brief telephone conversation that she was too upset to talk about her husband and what happened. She said funeral arrangements have not yet been made.

At the Joneses' home yesterday afternoon, several birthday balloons remained tied to the porch, bobbing in the breeze. A cardboard sign, with taped flowers, had been placed in a front window. It read: "RIP Bryant."

Shortly before 2 p.m., three officers went door to door handing out cards announcing free services for residents.

"A tragic incident has occurred in your community," the card said. "We are here to assist in the healing process and to answer questions. ... Please let us help to bring our community closer."

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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