Suspected hate crime victim shot in 2008 dies

Glen H. Footman wounded while walking in Mount Vernon

November 28, 2009|By Peter Hermann | peter.hermann@baltsun.com

A 52-year-old man who was shot and critically wounded last year in Mount Vernon has died, according to authorities, who are investigating whether the victim was shot because he was gay.

Glen H. Footman was pronounced dead Nov. 9 at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, nearly 14 months after he was shot twice after being seen walking hand-in-hand with his partner in the 600 block of N. Howard St.

Baltimore police confirmed Footman's death on Friday but said the medical examiner's office has not yet ruled it a homicide, pending additional tests to determine whether he died as a direct result of the injuries he suffered in the shooting. Authorities said no arrests have been made. Police said at the time of the Sept. 22, 2008, shooting they had classified the attack as a "possible hate crime."

The victim's father, H. Rodney Footman, said by telephone from Brewer, Maine, that police told him a witness overheard a young man say shortly before the shooting: " 'I'm going to kill myself a gay tonight.' He took off with that intention, and he did just that. Police were very upfront with us in saying that the chance of this ever being solved is practically nil."

Police could not confirm that account Friday but said Footman and his partner had been walking south on Howard Street shortly after midnight when a male on a bicycle approached them from behind. Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman, said Footman paused to speak to the man as his partner continued to walk.

Moses said the partner turned and saw Footman and the young man "in what seemed a nonconfrontational conversation." Moses said the partner yelled, "Come on, let's go," and then heard two gunshots. He ran to Footman, who was lying on the ground.

The spokesman said the gunman ran but then returned to get his bicycle and rode north on Howard Street.

Footman grew up in Brewer and attended Purdue University in Indiana and the University of Maine, Orono. He was a licensed drug and alcohol counselor for youths, and had a master's degree in business administration in pastoral theology. His father said Glen Footman married in 1979, and the couple had two children before divorcing.

He moved to Texas, where he counseled inmates at a maximum-security prison; his father said he met Alex Chavarria, his partner and "soul mate," in San Antonio in 1996, and that the couple moved to Baltimore about two years before his death. Footman wasn't licensed to perform counseling in Maryland and was shot two weeks before he was to have started a new job at an insurance company, his father said.

A death notice published in Maine's Bangor Daily News said Footman "will be remembered by all who knew him for his sense of humor, infectious laugh, engaging smile, and truly pure kindness. He has touched many with his unforgettable spirit in his roles as a father, partner, son, brother, uncle and friend. He will be sadly missed."

The notice also noted that his relationship with Chavarria "became his sustaining grace during his last challenging year of physical and emotional struggle."

Chavarria, who now lives in San Antonio, did not return calls seeking comment. Footman's father said his son died at Shock Trauma surrounded by friends and family, and was buried Nov. 20 in Bangor, Maine.

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