Freedom awaited victim of shooting

Dismas House detainee who was killed Monday was to be released this summer, relatives say

May 09, 2007|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,Sun reporter

His killers wanted Thomas S. Mouzon Jr. dead so badly that they were bold enough to confront him on a busy East Baltimore street and shoot him repeatedly in front of at least 10 witnesses.

A police spokeswoman said that bystanders heard Mouzon yell, "It wasn't me! It wasn't me!" moments before two men opened fire as the victim and nine other detainees were being escorted by an unarmed staff member from a basketball court to a halfway house on North Caroline Street.

When the shooting about 8 p.m. Monday was over, Mouzon, 23, lay on the sidewalk in front of Dr. Bernard Harris Sr. Elementary School, across the street from Dismas House, where he had been close to finishing a three-year sentence for cocaine distribution, officials said.

"He wasn't a troublesome person," said a weeping Angel Howard, 44, an aunt who helped raise him at her home in East Baltimore. "He never bring any harm to anybody."

Mouzon was one of four men killed within a 10-hour period between Monday evening and early yesterday in apparently unrelated incidents.

The most recent occurred shortly after 2:30 a.m. yesterday when 23-year-old William Don Curtis was shot in the head and chest on Raymonn Avenue, a block from his home there in Northeast Baltimore's Belair-Edison neighborhood.

The other victims were identified by police as John Lee Graves, 26, of the 900 block of Montpelier St., who was shot about 8:40 p.m. Monday on Cliftview Avenue near Clifton Park; and Michael Eugene Davis, 25, of the 3900 block of Edgewood Road, shot nearly two hours later on Woodbine Avenue in Forest Park.

At least five other people were injured in shootings across the city from late Monday through yesterday afternoon.

The spasm of violence pushed the city's homicide total to 101, compared with 93 for the same period last year.

The state Division of Correction had assigned Mouzon to a halfway house, where he worked off-site during the day, according to officials and family members. Relatives said they expected him to be released this summer.

Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a DOC spokeswoman, said the group of halfway house residents was being escorted by one unarmed duty specialist when the shooting occurred.

She said the killing has prompted a review of policies and procedures at that location, which houses inmates convicted of minor crimes and considered a low risk to the community.

"We will work with the administrators of [Dismas House] to look over and review the complete incident and the factors that were involved," Doggett said. The facility provides adult community rehabilitation services on a contractual basis to the state corrections division.

Police declined to release additional details about Mouzon's killing, but his relatives said they were stunned by his death. Mouzon had a 1-year-old daughter.

Howard, a cafeteria worker at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and other relatives said they believe that Mouzon was mistaken for somebody else.

The shooting occurred in a busy area in the 1400 block of N. Caroline. Next to the halfway house, St. Francis Xavier Church runs a bustling Head Start day care program, caring for about 300 children. The elementary school is across the street.

Yesterday morning, the street was packed with cars, and parents walked children past faded blood stains and a discarded purple latex glove on the school steps.

Christopher Barnes, director of the Head Start program, said the shooting was a rare tragedy on a street that generally has had few problems with violence.

He said it was "fortunate" that the killing didn't happen when the program or the school was in session - or when parents drop off or pick up their children in the early morning or afternoon.

"These situations do prompt you to look at and re-evaluate" security measures, Barnes said. "This building is secure. You have to be buzzed in to enter. ... We want to keep reinforcing that this is a safe place."

Lisa Cannon, 41, said she lives a block away and heard the gunshots from her house, but didn't think much about it.

"It's common," Cannon said about the gunfire.

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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