Safety is evaluated after slaying

Howard police assure residents of security in Columbia

April 16, 2008|By Emily Groves | Emily Groves,sun reporter

For residents of the Wilde Lake community home to last week's homicide, as well as surrounding Columbia villages, the issue is simple: safety.

"We came to find out that we're safe," said Nichole Hickey, 62, who lives in Columbia's Harper's Choice neighborhood.

Hickey was one of about 50 people who attended a community meeting held by Howard County police Monday night at Slayton House in the Wilde Lake village center.

Police held the meeting to address concerns in the wake of a "tragedy in the community," said county police Chief William McMahon, referring to the fatal shooting of Bryan Antoine Adams Jr., 20, April 9 in the 10400 block of Twin Rivers Road in front of the Wilde Lake village center.

Police have charged Antajuan L. Wilson, 19, of the 10800 block of Green Mountain Circle in Columbia, in the killing. Wilson confessed to the killing after his arrest late Saturday, according to court documents.

Residents praised the arrest at the meeting, but it was clear some are still concerned.

"Right now I'm not feeling so good," said Columbia resident Anthony Burke.

Burke, 40, said he is most concerned for the safety of his three small children and is hoping for some "long-term planning" to make the community safer, though he didn't expect solutions that night. He said he attended the meeting to "hear what [the police] had to say."

Columbia resident Celia Greenberg also attended the meeting to find out more about the crime, and because she was "concerned about the procedures after."

Greenberg's street was one of several that were closed immediately after the shooting, forcing her to park her car and walk through the woods to pick up her daughter at home, which she feels was probably not safe at the time.

Greenberg asked questions during the meeting about how to determine if it is safe outside during events like last week's slaying.

"If my 16-year-old daughter calls wanting to know if it is safe to go outside and walk the dog, will someone be able to answer her?" she asked.

McMahon provided a nonemergency phone number in response.

Most of the hour-long meeting was spent on questions from community members about motive and links to drug or gang activity.

McMahon stressed the investigation is still under way, but he said there is "no indication at all" that the homicide has links to drug or gang activity.

Community members showed interest in preventing another crime, asking about "predictive behaviors" or signs within the community.

McMahon said there were "probably not any predictive behaviors," and reiterated that "you live in a safe community."

He stressed that police presence in the community "is not going to be going away."

For many residents, this assurance was comforting, and Hickey said she left the meeting feeling safe.

Other residents, like Josephine Greenly, 79, left the meeting content with the information received, but were still unsure about their safety.

"They don't know what's going to happen in the future," Greenly said.

emily.groves@baltsun.com

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