Shot man drives SUV into pool, dies

Passenger survives plow through concrete wall

August 26, 2007|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,Sun reporter

A man who had just been shot drove a sport utility vehicle through a concrete wall and into the backyard pool of a well-known criminal defense attorney and died early yesterday in Northwest Baltimore, city police said.

The man was wounded during an apparent robbery attempt shortly after midnight. He was in a Jeep Cherokee in an alley near a group of comfortable single-family homes overlooking Lake Ashburton, police said.

The victim apparently lost consciousness as he sped away and crashed through a wall behind the Spanish-style home of Warren A. Brown in the 3000 block of N. Hilton St., according to police.

The victim was pronounced dead at Sinai Hospital. An autopsy will be performed to determine whether the gunshot wound -- as opposed to drowning or something else -- was the cause of death. The man's name was not immediately released as police sought to contact his family.

Police had no suspects as of yesterday afternoon, said Officer Nicole Monroe, a spokeswoman. Detectives were talking with a passenger in the SUV who survived the crash, she said.

"This is unimaginable," said Brown, who has represented a number of high-profile clients over the years. "I feel almost protected from this type of thing. When it ends up in my pool, a dead body, it's reality smacking you in the face."

Brown said he and his wife were eating at a Fells Point restaurant when his 16-year-old daughter called to say that their home's back wall had fallen in the pool. The daughter, who was in the house with her 14-year-old sister, called back moments later to say that a car was in the pool as well.

When Brown and his wife arrived home, more than a dozen uniformed officers and detectives were combing the backyard, he said. Paramedics were trying to revive the driver, who had been pulled out by neighbors, Brown said.

The SUV was standing on its nose, almost completely submerged in the 9-foot-deep pool, Brown said.

Yesterday afternoon, Brown recounted the scene as a police officer wearing rubber gloves collected evidence in the yard, including a black wig lying next to the pool. Broken car parts and shattered glass were strewn about.

Brown said the crash sent cinderblocks from the wall flying across the yard, shattering a glass door yards away.

Brown noted that he has represented many people who have been charged with violent crimes, including murder.

"I deal with this from a distance," Brown said. "I feel like a referee on the field. I'm representing guys who commit acts such as the one that led to his death. But it never touched me."

Brown's wife, Donyelle, who was preparing to host an AIDS benefit in Baltimore last night, said their children sometimes go swimming late at night. "We thank God our kids weren't out there," she said.

She said her friends at first thought she was kidding when she told them what happened. "They thought it was something you see on The Wire," she said.

Warren Brown said the incident, along with other recent crimes in the neighborhood, has prompted him and his wife to consider selling their home and moving to the suburbs.

Two weeks ago, he said, his 18-year-old son was robbed at gunpoint a block away from the family's house. It's not unusual to hear gunfire in the distance, even in a neighborhood known for being home to many upper middle-class families, Brown said.

He said he knows there is irony in a criminal defense attorney being driven out of the city because of crime.

"Many of these people are not deserving of my representation," Brown said. "There are bigger issues at play. When I'm defending them, I'm defending the Constitution."

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