Security guard is fatally shot downtown

February 21, 2010|By Julie Scharper and Peter Hermann

A security guard working an overnight shift at the Bank of America building in downtown Baltimore was shot and killed early Saturday when police said he tried to quell a dispute over a woman that erupted between a friend and several other men who had just left a nightclub.

Police identified the guard as James Ball, 38. He had worked for Wackenhut, a private security company hired by the building's owners. He died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center shortly after being shot twice, at least once in the chest, according to police.

The shooting occurred a few minutes after 2 a.m. as patrons were leaving clubs scattered across downtown.

Baltimore police chief spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said a 25-year-old man and his girlfriend had just left a downtown club, which he refused to identify, and were walking to their car near the bank at 10 Light St.

The woman went to the car and the man stopped to chat with Ball, with whom he was friends, at the bank entrance. As they talked, a group of men approached the car "and made advances toward the female," Guglielmi said.

Ball, who was unarmed, and his friend walked to the car and argued with the men, but the exchange escalated, the spokesman said. "The security guard tired to mediate the dispute," Guglielmi added.

Police said one of the men in the group went to his car, returned with a handgun and fired as many as nine shots. Guglielmi said detectives believe the gunman was firing at the 25-year-old man, but missed him and hit the unarmed security guard.

Ball had been working more than 70 hours a week to pay for the Windsor Mill home he shared with his longtime girlfriend and two children, said his brother, Austin Ball.

"He was a hard-working guy," his brother said. "Things were really looking up for him."

Ball had worked for the U.S. Postal Service, but, after his hours were cut, took jobs for two different security firms. He worked an eight-hour shift Friday in Columbia before reporting to work at the bank building.

On the way to Baltimore, James Ball ran out of fuel on I-95 and his brother brought him gasoline and followed him to a filling station. They parted about 1 a.m. Hours later, he learned his brother had been shot.

Guglielmi said police have no suspects or people of interest in custody, but investigators are reviewing tapes from CitiWatch and private cameras at the bank.

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