Standoff ends when city police arrest man after fatal shooting

Police arrest neighbor after fatal shooting

October 03, 2006|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,sun reporter

A 40-year-old man was arrested by police yesterday afternoon, ending a seven-hour standoff in a Northeast Baltimore neighborhood that police said began when he allegedly used a shotgun to kill a neighbor who was cleaning his truck.

Police declined to speculate on a motive for the slaying that occurred about 6 a.m. in the Belair-Edison neighborhood, but they said the suspect spoke briefly with the victim before the shooting.

Billy J. Horne, 47, was wiping the dew from his navy pickup truck when he was hit in the upper body with a shotgun blast, police said. He was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

"It was a succession of loud booms," said Erin Kolbrich, 26, who lives on the same block. "It was still dark out. It freaked me out enough that I moved away from the window."

A police spokesman identified the suspect as Marvin Ferguson of the 3800 block of Lyndale Ave. who was charged last night with first-degree murder. He was being held at Central Booking and Intake Center pending a bail review hearing today.

Immediately after the shooting, Ferguson stood outside until he heard police sirens, and then retreated into his home and refused to speak with negotiators, said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman.

While trying to coax Ferguson out, police instructed neighbors to stay indoors. Commanders stationed patrol officers at the alleys and used yellow tape to block off Lyndale and surrounding streets. A police helicopter buzzed overhead for most of the morning, and officers with shields, automatic weapons and helmets crouched in the alley behind Ferguson's house.

Negotiators used a megaphone and yelled "Marvin" repeatedly - urging him to surrender, according to neighbors. Police also tossed a phone into the home for him to use. "None of the attempts resulted in any kind of contact," said Maj. Paul Sheppard, who commands the city police special operations section.

At 12:40 p.m., police set off a "flash bang" grenade - a device that is designed to make a loud, distracting noise but cause no harm - and entered the house. A few minutes later, police led Ferguson outside in handcuffs.

Neighbors described the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood as a working-class enclave where people keep to themselves. The homes are mostly red brick rowhouses, and many have front porches. Yesterday many residents used portable phones to try to contact each other to find out what was going on.

Horne, the victim, was known to polish his truck in the early-morning hours. Doris Koehler, 78, who lives across the street, liked to joke with him about the ritual. Yesterday she was one of the last people to speak with him.

"This morning, I went out, and he was washing his car. I said, `Good morning,'" she recalled.

Then she hollered: "You're washing the wrong car!" hoping Horne would clean her car, too.

Horne played along, saying: "OK, I'll be up," she said.

She went to the back of her home to get into her car and then heard several bangs.

"Five minutes more and I would have been right there when he was shot," Koehler said.

"The shots were not pop-pop - these were so loud and so strong. ... I'm very sorry for the gentleman and for his family."

Few residents said they knew Ferguson, and while various rumors circulated, nobody could say for certain what had happened between him and Horne.

Court records show that Ferguson is the father of two girls - ages 6 and 7. In June the girls' mother, Michel Bissessar, unsuccessfully sought a restraining order against him, according to court papers. She wrote in the papers that he had threatened her multiple times at her work and Baltimore County home and that he might have access to a firearm.

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