2 in hospital after hotel shooting

Suspected gunman critical, his victim fair

two others in custody

gun not an Uzi

December 07, 2009|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com

Two men remain hospitalized and three face charges in the wake of a birthday party in a downtown hotel that ended violently early Sunday, with one party-goer shot by a semi-automatic pistol and the shooter allegedly disarmed and badly beaten by others in the crowd, police said.

Police said they intend to charge Raymond Woodland, a 19-year-old from West Baltimore, with first- and second-degree attempted murder if he recovers and is released from the hospital. Woodland was in critical condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Two Baltimore men were in custody - Dominic Anderson, 22, and Abdullah Omar, 21 - and police said they intend to charge them with first- and second-degree attempted murder in Woodland's beating. They were apparently friends of the shooting victim, Marquis Johnson, 19, of West Baltimore. He was in fair condition at Shock Trauma. Police said they expect him to survive. They said they don't know whether he knew Woodland or what prompted an argument that led to the shooting.

At first, police thought the weapon was an Uzi submachine gun, which caused news of the shooting to spread widely online. The gun was later identified as a TEC-9, also known as a DC-9 - a semi-automatic "assault pistol" that can be converted by owners into an automatic weapon. It looks like a miniature submachine gun, and police described it Sunday as about a foot-and-a-half long. It is not on the legal handgun roster maintained by the Maryland State Police.

"They're out there, but they're not common," said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. "How does someone who's 19 years old end up with a semi-automatic pistol?"

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III held a news conference to stress that it was an "isolated incident" for the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel, where the shooting occurred, and unusual for downtown hotels in general.

He railed in frustration against "idiots and morons" with guns they're ready to use in a fight. He declared that the police are doing what they can but said authorities need everyone in the city to "help us remove this scourge."

The Sheraton, a sand-colored tower on West Fayette Street, was quiet late Sunday morning, with few people except employees in the lobby. General manager Chris Phillips, stationed near the entrance, said he had already talked to police.

"They've asked us not to make any comments until they've completed their investigation," he said.

Bealefeld said the party was thrown in two adjoining hotel rooms on the eighth floor, rented by a "young lady" who paid cash. Besides partygoers, few people were staying on that floor, he said. But the hotel got noise complaints and dispatched security officers just before Johnson was shot at about 3 a.m.

"By all appearances, the Sheraton did whatever they could to take steps against this," Bealefeld said. "They were, indeed, on their way to break up this party when the shooting occurred."

Police found about 20 young adults, all from Baltimore, when they arrived. None of the men involved in the shooting or beating was celebrating his birthday that weekend.

Guglielmi said police at first thought that Woodland had been shot multiple times because he was so severely injured. "He was beaten with the gun," Guglielmi said.

Random attacks last spring raised concerns about - and brought more police presence to - the city's busy tourist areas. Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, saw the hotel shooting as a different sort of case.

"This was not a random act of violence," Fowler said. "The incident says nothing about downtown. It says more about gun culture in our country and the need to lock people like this up."

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