Violence reclaims part of Barclay

Neighborhood on east side has seen 4 shooting deaths in 3 months

May 11, 2007|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,sun reporter

Charles Pace. Vic Roy Fenner. John Doe. Deandie Hatcher.

Four men have been fatally shot on the streets of East Baltimore's Barclay neighborhood within the past three months, the most recent early yesterday. One of the victims remains unidentified.

The scenes where they died are short walks from one another, on city blocks that are busy with contractors renovating run-down rowhouses during the day and drug addicts and dealers roaming the streets at night.

The area just west of Greenmount Avenue and south of 25th Street -- targeted in the mid-1990s by police who tried reclaim it as part of a mayoral initiative -- now seems dangerous and forlorn. Residents are reluctant to talk to police.

"They're scared. They're afraid," said the Rev. Andre H. Humphrey, head of Reaching the Unreachable Outreach Ministries, a small nonprofit that works with neighborhood children. "Too many families are benefiting from the drugs, so they're not going to say anything. They're going to look the other way."

Police are embarking on a new crime-fighting plan that encourages cooperation with neighborhoods, even as homicide and non-fatal shootings continue to rise. Officials have proposed strategies on tracking illegal guns and clamping down on repeat violent offenders.

Through yesterday afternoon, 102 people had been killed this year, compared with 94 people last year during the same period. As of Saturday, the latest figures available, shootings citywide stood at 234 this year, compared with 177 during the same period last year.

The Eastern District's Barclay neighborhood has been one of the city's hardest hit by violent crime this year. Though many residents say that the area has improved over the past decade, problems remain.

"We definitely have some gang issues -- that's a big part of the problem," said Matt Jablow, a police spokesman. Jablow said the department has had several special-operations teams deployed in the area for several months to address crime. "That area has been getting special attention for a long time."

City police have installed surveillance cameras along the Greenmount Avenue corridor. But the worst acts of violence have been occurring at night, and on corners and in alleys where the cameras don't monitor.

The latest shooting occurred about 4 a.m. yesterday. The victim, Deandie Hatcher, 17, of the 2400 block of Barclay St., was shot multiple times in the head in the 300 block of E. 23 1/2 St. -- a small, one-block side street between Barclay Street and Guilford Avenue. He died within the hour at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Late yesterday morning, his blood still stained some parts of the alley.

On May 2, police officers responded to a report of a body in a dilapidated rowhouse in the 2300 block of Barclay Street, its walls sheared off, the interior rooms exposed and cluttered with rubble and debris. In the basement of one building, police found the body of a man who had been shot. Police said he might have been dead for two days, and he has not yet been identified.

Vic Roy Fenner, 17, was fatally shot Feb. 27, in the 2200 block of Guilford Ave., on the same block as an office for the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation. On Feb. 19, Charles Pace, 22, was shot and killed in the 2300 block of Barclay St., near yesterday's killing.

Police said that the violence this year and last year is in part linked to gang activity. In September, two men were killed as part of a gang dispute, by a member of a gang known as the Young Gorilla Family, or YGF. Police arrested and charged Eric Tate, a YGF member, with first-degree murder.

The Young Gorilla Family, a group of teenagers and young adults, is one of the area's most active gangs, according to police.

Police also said they believe that Fenner's older brother, Donatello Fenner, 19, is connected with the gang. On March 3, police officers arrested the older Fenner after they said he sped away from a traffic stop. Police reported finding a loaded .38-caliber Taurus revolver on him and a loaded Sig Sauer handgun in his car. He faced multiple counts of illegal handgun-related charges, court records show.

Several days later, police commanders announced a renewed effort to target illegal guns and used Fenner's arrest as an example of model police enforcement.

But late last month, Judge Martin Welch gave Fenner, who had no prior convictions as an adult, a five-year suspended prison sentence and four years of probation -- though police and prosecutors were pushing for prison time.

Mayor Sheila Dixon commented on the Fenner case at a meeting of Baltimore criminal justice officials Wednesday, calling him a "known gang offender" whom police and prosecutors had identified as a "priority case." She noted that he had initially received a $300,000 bail, but was out free on a suspended sentence.

"This really says that we've got to beef up and take this issue a lot more seriously," Dixon said.

Sun reporters Julie Bykowicz and Richard Irwin contributed to this article.


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