4 arrested in June 2 street attack

Victim, 27, remains in a coma after severe beating, robbery east of Patterson Park

June 12, 2007|By Gus Sentementes and Liz F. Kay | Gus Sentementes and Liz F. Kay,sun reporters

They stole his cell phone, credit cards and a watch. But for those common and easily replaceable items, Zachary "Zach" Sowers' attackers also nearly took his life.

Two teenagers beat the 27-year-old near his home east of Patterson Park, according to Baltimore police, as he walked home from a Canton bar.

Since the attack June 2, the part-time graduate student has been in a coma at Johns Hopkins Hospital while his friends and family - including his wife of eight months - have stood vigil and chronicled his slow recovery on an Internet site.

Four suspects were arrested Sunday, police said. They said that two of the suspects attacked Sowers and the other two are believed to have waited in a getaway vehicle.

Authorities said Sowers' credit card was used to buy gasoline and to rent Deja Vu and Smokin' Aces from a rental machine at a McDonald's in Dundalk.

Police said Trayvon K. Ramos, 16, charged with attempted murder and other offenses in the attack on Sowers, was out on $50,000 bail after being charged with attacking a woman in Elkton in February. Police said Ramos was charged in that case with carjacking the 31-year-old woman as she walked to her minivan.

Three others, Arthur Jeter, 17, Eric L. Price, 16, and Wilburt Martin, 18, also face charges that include attempted murder in the Sowers case, police said.

Baltimore homicide detectives got a break when they discovered charges from two gas stations and a McDonalds' "redbox" movie rental unit on Sowers' credit card shortly after the attack, according to charging documents filed in District Court.

Using surveillance video from both gas stations, detectives developed a description of one suspect and a vehicle, a Dodge Stratus, charging documents state.

Baltimore County police spotted the vehicle Friday near an apartment in Dundalk, authorities said. Police obtained a warrant to search the apartment and recovered the two movies and a Timex watch that belonged to Sowers.

According to charging documents, two men drove to Baltimore and picked up two others. Two of the four got out of the car near Highlandtown Middle School and confronted Sowers. One of the men asked Sowers for a cigarette and then started beating him.

The Internet site published by Sowers' family and friends includes prayers and thoughts for him.

Sowers has a full-time job in finance and is earning a master's degree in information and telecommunications systems at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, said a friend, Fanya Workman. Sowers is a self-taught disc jockey who occasionally plays music at friends' parties and bars, she said.

Workman said her friend had too much to live for and would have handed over the items without the need for violence.

"He would never have put up a fight that would have caused him such terrible pain," she said. "This was just somebody who was out to hurt someone."

Sowers was listed in critical condition last night, a Johns Hopkins spokeswoman said. He suffered serious brain injuries in the attack and has developed pneumonia but is expected to emerge from the coma, according to the Web site.

liz.kay@baltsun.com gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

Sun researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this article.

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