An intruder, a weapon and many questions

Police delayed picking up suspect's bag, woman says

June 08, 2007|By Julie Turkewitz | Julie Turkewitz,Sun reporter

Last Sunday afternoon, a man entered Nancy Jones' Southwest Baltimore home and held a long black gun to her head, she says. He fled only after a neighbor called 911 -- but left his weapon behind.

For five days, Jones didn't touch it. Instead, she says, she called city police and tried to get them to pick it up from her Wilkens Avenue rowhouse. Not once, not twice, but she called at least five times, she says.

There it sat where the gunman had left it -- in his oversized Army green canvas bag, neatly hung on the hook of a coat rack at the top of the basement stairs, covered by sweaters and jackets, including a gray hoodie belonging to Jones' grandchild.

Jones didn't touch the bag. She didn't open it, much less open it and look inside. "I've always been scared of guns," Jones says. "I've never had any experience with them."

Yesterday, frustrated with the lack of response, a friend contacted the media on her behalf. After a phone call from a Sun reporter yesterday afternoon, city police quickly retrieved the bag and weapon.

Officers discovered that the gun did not fire bullets, only BBs.

Police say Jones never contacted them about the weapon, and question why -- if she was worried about a gun in her house -- she did not call 911.

Had Jones called the district station house, says a police spokeswoman, an officer would have gone immediately to collect the gun.

"We needed to make sure if there was a weapon in the house it was secured," says officer Nicole Monroe, the spokeswoman, just after city police picked up the gun. "I see that the officers did their job. I'm concerned that she's making these allegations that are just not true."

Jones insists she called.

"I can't believe it's been all this time," she says, standing in the kitchen by the unlocked door where she alleges that Ronald Lee Burkhart, 29, a man she knows from the neighborhood, entered her house Sunday.

Jones lives with her husband, daughter, and three of her grandchildren, ages 9, 11 and 14. She says Burkhart has bothered her family in the past, often asking for money. Police arrested him Monday on charges of assault, destruction of property and trespassing.

She said that when she came home Sunday to find him standing in her kitchen, swearing and holding a gun, it shook her up.

"I said, `Oh no. Oh no. You have to go,'" Jones says.

"I was just shaking and thought I was going to pass out."

julie.turkewitz@baltsun.com

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