Man charged in February killing

Second suspect in fatal shooting near Morgan State is being sought, city police say

April 24, 2008|By Gus G. Sentementes and Annie Linskey | Gus G. Sentementes and Annie Linskey,Sun reporters

Jason Allen was no stranger to Morgan State University police.

Last year, he admitted being in a fight outside a Morgan dorm, according to court papers filed by school police officers.

Now, police have charged Allen, 24, in the shooting death of Jeff Payne at a Valentine's Day party at a privately run residence hall near Morgan's Northeast Baltimore campus.

Allen, who lives in Baltimore, was arrested and charged Monday with murder. Police are still looking for a second suspect, said Officer Troy Harris, a city police spokesman.

Jarrett Carter, a spokesman for Morgan State University, cautioned against drawing any connections from the two crimes and said the students should feel safe. "What we're talking about is two separate incidents, one on campus one off-campus, that were separated by a year."

Police released no details as to motive in the February killing. They said the shooting was sparked by a fight that began earlier that day between two groups.

Neither Payne, 22, nor the suspect were students at Morgan.

The victim's mother said her son had been living with a roommate in Laurel and had come to this country from Liberia, having escaped civil war there.

"Right now, I don't know what to feel," said Wilma Kromah, the mother. "Should I be happy or should I be sad? It is good news, and the detectives are working so hard to get them off the street. But for me, as a mother, I don't know what to feel."

Payne left Liberia in 1995 and joined his mother, who was living in Howard County. Growing up, he got in trouble with the law and was charged in some break-ins.

On Feb. 14, he went with his roommate to a party at the Morgan View Apartments at 1520 Pentridge Road. About 12:45 a.m. Feb. 15, someone burst into Apartment 108 and fired at Payne, according to court papers.

One suspect ran through a bedroom window, police said at the time. Payne was found slumped in a doorway; he later died at Good Samaritan Hospital.

The case has taken homicide detectives to New York City to search for suspects. Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman, said detectives with the Warrant Apprehension Task Force arrested Allen on Monday in the 1600 block of Northwick Road.

Allen is being held without bail at the city detention center.

Court records show that Allen had been arrested a year earlier by Morgan police.

The campus force was called to quell a fight involving a knife outside Blount Residence Hall around 10 p.m. in January 2007, according to police papers.

Four people left the scene in a silver-colored car; Morgan officers found the vehicle and questioned the four people inside, including Allen.

Allen admitted that he had been in a fight outside the dorm, according to police papers. They found a pellet pistol and a cell phone in the car -- but no knife.

"The other guy had the knife," Allen told police, according to court papers.

The next evening, Kevin Foster came to the campus police and said that he had been jumped outside the dorm.

"He stated that they struck him with their firsts and knocked him to the ground and then hit and kicked him with their feet and hands," according to court papers.

Prosecutors dropped that case on Dec. 26 when the victim did not show at court.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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