'Rogue elements' blamed in slaying

Brother says victim had tried to make apartments safer

June 26, 2008|By Kevin Rector | Kevin Rector,Sun reporter

Police say they know of no motive for the shooting death of a property manager at a Woodlawn apartment complex, but friends and family say they think the crime might be related to his job.

Milton John Barnes III had taken steps to make the complex safer for its residents.

"We know he was sent there to deal with some rogue elements in the neighborhood," said Carl Barnes, his brother. "That was part of his assignment - to get things straight."

Matthew Greene, a close friend of Milton Barnes, said a Barnes family member told him that "some young guys in the neighborhood thought he was the police."

Barnes, 37, whom friends and family called Tone, died Tuesday from a gunshot wound to the head he received last week, police said.

Barnes was found bleeding and unresponsive last Thursday morning in the rental office of the Hunters Crossing apartment complex in the 6300 block of Monika Place. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and remained in critical condition until his death, police said.

Barnes, a husband and father who lived in the Clinton area of Prince George's County, was working in Woodlawn to gain managerial experience needed to become a regional property manager, his brother said. He was passionate about his work and was actively trying to make the area around the complex better, his brother said.

"He had a very entrepreneurial spirit," his brother said. "He was a very fun person to be around, but when it came to business, he took his business serious."

Barnes worked at a number of other apartment complexes before going to Hunters Crossing, and he had a history of taking young men under his wing, his brother said. He said his brother started a youth basketball and cheerleading summer camp in Suitland.

"He helped a lot of people get jobs, mentored a lot of young people, kept them on the straight and narrow at a lot of complexes he worked at," he added.

One of those young people is Greene, who lived in the Heritage Square Apartments in New Carrollton when Barnes was a leasing specialist there.

"He was putting together a basketball team, and through some people in the neighborhood he heard I played basketball," Greene said. "It was an outlet."

It wasn't long before Greene began looking at Barnes as an older brother, he said.

"We were the best of friends, even though we had a 10-year difference in age," he said. "He was always available for me to talk to him, and vice versa."

According to Heritage Square community manager Alfonso Torres, who worked with Barnes between 2001 and 2006, Barnes was a "people person" who twice won a company award for good customer service.

"He was promoted because of his qualities and because he was a very good worker," Torres said. "He was very friendly and determined, so people liked that."

kevin.rector@baltsun.com

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