2 brothers are slain within 3 hours

After killings, police scramble to protect relatives of victims

December 21, 2006|By Gus G. Sentementes and Annie Linskey | Gus G. Sentementes and Annie Linskey,SUN REPORTERS

Two brothers who ran an East Baltimore garage were gunned down execution-style yesterday three hours apart in different city neighborhoods, and police scrambled to protect their families as detectives searched for suspects in the attacks.

The first to die, Ralston Holder, 52, was shot several times on the parking lot of his Northeast Baltimore apartment complex shortly before 10 a.m. after dropping off his girlfriend at the airport, police and relatives said.

About 12:45 p.m., a masked gunman jumped out of a car, ran up to Everton R. Holder, 41, and shot him several times at the brothers' towing and repair shop in the 3300 block of E. Fayette St., police said. A second person was also wounded by the gunfire there, but his injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

"To have two brothers gunned down within three hours of each other is pretty extraordinary," said Col. Frederick H. Bealefeld III, chief of detectives. "It's not something you see every day. It sets off a lot of bells. It is such an incredible occurrence."

Bealefeld said investigators believe the brothers' murders are connected, though he declined to speculate on a possible motive. The Holders were partners in a garage business called Eveready Towing & Repair and didn't appear to have criminal records in Maryland, he said.

"We encourage anyone in the public who has any information at all ... to call us," Bealefeld said.

The killings shook the brothers' families, who gathered last night at a North Baltimore Jamaican carryout restaurant. Both men were from Jamaica, and the restaurant is owned by the victims' sister, relatives said.

Bealefeld said that when detectives learned that the second victim was the brother of the first, investigators rushed to locate other family members and place them under police protection.

"That was mission No. 1, to protect other family members," Bealefeld said. "We worked very quickly to try and locate additional family members to try and ensure their protection. ... We found anybody and everybody we could get our hands on."

About 15 relatives appeared to be under police protection, with three police officers standing guard inside the restaurant. One officer would not allow a Sun reporter to interview relatives inside.

Late last night, Everton Holder's wife, Tami, contacted The Sun and said she and other family members were not worried about their safety.

"It was an execution," she said of the killings, adding that "they killed who they wanted to kill. They wanted to eliminate the competition."

As recently as August, Everton Holder had filed a criminal complaint against a man alleging second-degree assault and a threat of arson, according to court records. The records show that the defendant, Ryon Minor, has not been served with the warrant. Another man, Earnest Minor, filed a second-degree assault charge against Everton Holder about the same time, but prosecutors dropped that case, records show.

Police declined to comment on those cases.

After Ralston Holder was gunned down at his apartment complex, relatives, including his brother Everton, rushed to the scene in the 5700 block of Hazelwood Circle. Everton Holder consoled his family and gave information to detectives about his brother's murder, but police declined to disclose what he told them. Police officials said they had not located any witness to the first shooting.

Tami Holder, 42, said her husband told her he knew the motive in his brother's shooting, but "didn't want to talk" because he was "numb."

"He said he knew," she said. "He was a little worried about himself, but he wasn't scared." People who were at the towing and repair shop yesterday morning were on edge because they had heard that Everton Holder's brother had been killed.

When Everton Holder arrived at the body shop in the afternoon, his buddies asked him if he was all right. "He didn't say nothing," said a friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of safety concerns after witnessing the shooting.

Everton Holder -- known as "Cliff" to friends and relatives -- had been at the shop for about 10 minutes, and was leaning against a car and talking to another employee, when a red car arrived. "The person in the passenger side came out and started to shoot," the friend said. "It was a big gun. It was not a little `Pop. Pop.' It was `Boom. Boom.'"

After taking cover, the friend said, "I came back outside, and everyone was yelling. Cliff was on the ground bleeding to death. We were looking for something to cover him up with."

Detectives were seeking information about a red car, possible a Dodge Neon or Chevrolet Cavalier, that was seen leaving the shooting scene at the garage, Bealefeld said. Both brothers were shot with handguns, he said.

Sherman Crowder, an off-duty Baltimore police officer, said he has been taking his personal cars to the brothers' shop for 20 years. Everton Holder owns the shop's property, paying $250,000 for it in May 2004, state records show.

Crowder said he knows a number of city police officers who have auto work done at the shop. Crowder took his Corvette to the shop last month for some work.

Tami Holder said her husband left Jamaica 16 years ago, and had five children ages 12 to 26. Ralston Holder had left Jamaica earlier, and was the father of three children -- two of them grown, the other a 3-year-old son, she said.

Tami Holder said her brother-in-law had taken his girlfriend to the airport for a Christmas vacation trip to Jamaica.

The brothers are the city's 265th and 266th homicide victims this year. The city appears likely to exceed last year's total of 269 homicide victims.

Police urged anyone with information about the shootings to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100; tipsters may remain anonymous.

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com annie.linskey@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Nicole Fuller and Matthew Dolan contributed to this article.

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